Trending Topics:

I was born ideologically, politically, and spiritually in June 1967 — settler/ambassador Dani Dayan

on 24 Comments

On June 11, I heard a forceful speech: Israeli consul general Dani Dayan’s reflections on his spiritual rebirth in 1967. Speaking to Zionist groups in New York at a conference on “Israel at a crossroads on the anniversary of the 1967 War,” Dayan said that the most important weeks of his life were when he was 11 and experienced the deaths of his grandparents and the 1967 war and committed himself to a nationalist political vision that would take him from Argentina to Tel Aviv and on to be a colonist in the West Bank.

“The winner takes all, by force. And we won. Thank god,” he said, summarizing the war.

I pass Dayan’s speech along (absent the afterthought, which I already quoted), because it shows how deeply-ingrained the rightwing settler way of thinking is in Israeli politics and U.S. Jewish life. You would think Dayan is an outlier. In March 2016, Brazil rejected Dayan as an ambassador because of his settler ideology. Just a year ago Dayan savaged liberal Zionists as “un-Jewish.” Five years ago he wrote on the op-ed page of the New York Times that a two-state solution was “unattainable” and represented a “disaster.”

Yet liberal Zionists have now embraced the famously-charming ambassador. The Forward editor did last year. The June 11 conference that I attended of mostly liberal Zionist groups welcomed him. Rick Jacobs, the president of the Reform Jews, the “most powerful force” in US Jewish life, praised Dayan to the skies (below) and was twice mentioned in the speech.

Let us hear Dayan:

I’m very glad to be here. You know what I’m going to say now is true. It’s not fake news. I don’t know if you heard but this morning in the Kotel [western wall plaza in Jerusalem], a naked woman strolled around the Kotel till she was taken into custody. It seems to be a woman with mental problems– But I wonder whose purpose in the Kotel was fulfilled. [Laughter] And I have some ideas about it…

We are celebrating now the 50th anniversary [of Jerusalem unification]. The 25th anniversary was celebrated in the White House, when President Bush 41 received Mayor Teddy Kollek, the great builder of Jerusalem, of Ramot and all those neighborhoods, and celebrated…. That shows that in politics the variable is larger than the constant, or surely larger than we tend to believe.

Now luckily for me, since I was asked to speak personally, luckily for me the personal and the national and the political and the philosophical are so intertwined that I can under the pretext of speaking personal also speak politics.

Actually I’m now celebrating a kind of birthday these days. I think that I am celebrating my ideological birthday. I was born biologically in November 1955, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. But I think that politically, ideologically and in some sense spiritually, I was born in June 1967 after a long three weeks of labor, from May, late May to early June.

Because for me as an 11-year-old child in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a very Jewish, although nonobservant, but staunchly Zionist family– the product of the amazing Hebrew education system also that the Jewish congregation of Argentina built that was second to none– speaking Hebrew– those were my formative ideological days. Also it was intertwined as I said with a very, very personal happening. My grandparents whom I lived in the same house with, my mother’s parents, decided to go to visit Israel for Yom Ha’atzmaut 1967 [Israel independence day] and they had a terrible road accident, a few days after Yom Hatzmaaut [May 15]. My grandfather passed away immediately. My grandmother struggled in the hospital for a few days more. My mother immediately flew to Israel. When she came, she came for the funeral of my grandmother.

What was happening in Israel in those days was also political, Jewish and completely personal.

And I remember—you know, today you can rewrite history. But I always say that the only advantage I can find of not being young is that I remember. I assume that at a certain stage I will start to forget, but that’s another issue.

I remember the exasperation, I remember the agony, I remember the feeling– you could touch the feeling of anguish, of exasperation, that barely 20 something years after the Shoah it might happen again.

And today when I read these accounts about Israel, the expansionist grand design of the Zionists in 1967, I really don’t know if to laugh or to cry. Because we remember; we remember the explicit chilling statements by all Arab leaders, Nasser in Egypt, Shukeiri of the PLO, and Attasi in Damascus and others, about what the fate of our brethren in Israel will be. And then of course the spiritual innovation — when we returned to the places that I read and learned so much in Hebrew school. Not only Jerusalem, by the way, also Hebron and Shiloh and Beit El, and other places that are the cradle of Jewish civilization, the cradle of Jewish history.

I think if at a certain point– I am a non-observant Jew, I’m a 100 percent Jew but quite nonobservant. I always say that my relationship with God is… one of the things I live to examine after I retire. Maybe I will ask Rabbi Jacobs to be my counselor on that after I retire. But if I was at a certain point close to become an observant Jew in the orthodox sense of the word, those were those days.

And add to that, the amazing spiritual uplifting of coming to live in Israel three and a half years later, and to see the places and to fulfill it personally. And those are for me no doubt the most significant days of my life. And I made a decision, no doubt I made a decision those days that I am still loyal to, that as far as I was concerned, Israel will never return to that vulnerable situation it was in 1967.

That as far as I am concerned I will do whatever I can to prevent Israel’s enemies to have such a wonderful chance to fulfill their dream of destroying Israel. And that decision that I made as an 11 year boy in Buenos Aires, a year and a half before my bar mitzvah– is still my ideological guidance.

It’s very important for me to tackle two points. Again, they are the personal and ideological intertwined.

The first one… In 1988, I, a very urban guy, a guy that loved city life, that was born in a very big city, Buenos Aires, and grew up in Tel Aviv, decided to move to a small community in the hills of Samaria—Ma’ale Shomron– for purely ideological reasons. We had both of us, my wife and I, very good positions. I was chairman and CEO of a large information technology company. My wife was a senior executive in an advertising agency, one of the most trendy agencies in Tel Aviv of those days. Since then they went bankrupt– but nothing to do with the fact that my wife left them.

We enjoyed the cultural scene of Tel Aviv, the shopping of Tel Aviv. And as you can see, we enjoyed too much the gastronomic scene of Tel Aviv.

Nevertheless we decided to leave and live in Samaria. And the question I want to tackle is, Did we do as is often portrayed, an immoral act by doing that, or not?

And for me that’s the most crucial question. It’s much more important than the question if we did a politically wise move. Because for in order for a political move to be wise, it has to be first and foremost moral. I’m a person that tries to live his life by high moral standards, strict moral standards. I never visited South Africa before 1994, I always preferred to spend my shekels in another place, not in a racially segregated regime.

So is it immoral, like persons claim– what I am doing? No! It is not. And I want to devote a few minutes to explain this.

Look, there are two national movements, legitimate national movements, in the patch of land that we Jews call Eretz Israel and the Palestinians call Falastin. The Jewish national movement, the Zionist movement is legitimate, the return to our homeland after 2000 years of dispersion, forced dispersion, in which every single day we yearned to do that. And then a gigantic statesman… Theodor Herzl converted that yearning into a political movement, into a national liberation movement–

And there are the Palestinians who were there when we arrived. Yes, they were there when we arrived, and their claim is also legitimate and makes sense. For sure it is genuine, it’s sincere.

So how do you resolve a conflict like this, morally, ethically?

I must admit even if it’s painful for me to say that the only way that makes sense may be partition. But what happens when partition is proposed time and again, time and again, and the only constant pattern in the political aspect of the Jewish Palestinian conflict, the Zionist Palestinian conflict, the Israeli Palestinian conflict– call it what you whatever name you want– is this: the Zionist movement, Israel, the Israeli government accepts partition, in some cases proposes partition, the Palestinian national movement rejects it.

That is the only constant pattern since 1936 to 2017.

Actually to be on the safe side I used to say that the last time it happened was in 2008, during Ehud Olmert’s administration, but yesterday, Haaretz published the details of the Kerry proposal. John Kerry, 2014. And we learn from there, that Netanyahu accepted Kerry’s proposal of partition and Abbas rejected it…

It happened in ’36, in the Peel Commission, and in 47. Whatever happened on November 29 of 47? By the way, November 29 is my biological birthday, in ‘55. What happened? The Jews of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanyah, New York, Buenos Aires, they went into the squares to dance the Horah and they attacked us. That’s the only reason the state of Palestine doesn’t celebrate its 69th anniversary in May 2017. The only one.

What happened from 1948 to 1967. My academic education is not in politics, political science or international relations. My master’s degree is in finance. In finance, you say that if you own a stock or a share, every day you do not sell it actually you made a rational decision to buy it. Because you can sell it in the market. If you keep it, it’s equivalent to making the decision to buy it. The parallel is that every single day in those 19 years in which the Palestinian national movement decided not made a make peace with Israel in the pre-1967 borders they made the rational decision that they prefer the annihilation of Israel to a two state solution.

And then came ’67. In 1967 there was the blatant attempt to destroy Israel. The Palestinians, the Arabs set the rules of the game: The winner takes all, by force. And we won. Thank god. That Rabbi Jacobs will tell me how to – never mind. I am being recorded, and they love me– the haredi in Israel– as you know.

And yes we have a right to live there. We have a right to live in those disputed territories that we were ready to relinquish but we were attacked.

Yes, I will say more than that. Yes: Israel did, does, and most probably will continue to do its share of injustices. Yes, of course! I don’t know if any other nation that in such an entrenched conflict, did not, including this country.

Yes, Israel did, does, and most probably will do its share of stupidities. Yes! I don’t know if any other nation in such an entrenched conflict did not.

But when I take a look at the big picture, my conscience is clear. We have by far the moral upper hand, including in residing in Judea and Samaria. No settlement was established over the ruins an Arab village, in Judea and Samaria. Yes there are some local disputes about ownership, this place that place, but never a settlement was established on the ruins of an Arab village.

Dayan and Rabbi Rick Jacobs seem to have a real friendship. The Reform movement president says he told Benjamin Netanyahu that Dayan was a “flamethrower” when he was appointed, but Jacobs now praises Dayan for being a very responsive consul general, and for presenting the other side at this liberal conference.

The other side? That conference featured no anti-Zionists. And just one Palestinian, a conservative.

As for revising history: for the facts on the ’67 war, both the alarm beforehand and the ease of the victory, read Norman Finkelstein here, as well as the reflections of I.F. Stone, Avigail Abarbanel, Vivienne Porzsolt, and Joel Kovel here.

Lastly, Dayan insists he is not religious. My definition of religion includes deeply held communal beliefs. Like Dayan’s “spiritual” belief in a Jewish civilization that was “cradled” in the West Bank, then scattered.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

24 Responses

  1. Ossinev on June 19, 2017, 2:17 pm

    “The Jewish national movement, the Zionist movement is legitimate, the return to our homeland after 2000 years of dispersion, forced dispersion, in which every single day we yearned to do that. And then a gigantic statesman… Theodor Herzl converted that yearning into a political movement, into a national liberation movement”

    It`s always a difficult call with these cuddlier Zionist freaks – whether to puke or laugh. On balance I would say that Dayan definitely creases me up ( not with vomit but with laughter)

  2. eljay on June 19, 2017, 2:34 pm

    Zionism is a powerful supremacist ideology: It can make the natives of Argentina who choose to hold the religion-based identity of Jewish believe that they are actually ancient Israelites who are entitled:
    – to establish a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine; and
    – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

  3. US Citizen on June 19, 2017, 3:37 pm

    This man lives in denial and truly thinks Israels failed apartheid policies will prevail. A good debate in London. The Palestinian woman who speaks clearly makes him uncomfortable.
    No wonder Venezuela rejected him and shame on those who made him Consul General in New York.

    Head to Head – Israeli settlers: Patriots or invaders?

  4. wondering jew on June 19, 2017, 5:19 pm

    There is an interesting interplay of politics and morality involved in the settling of the west bank. If Israel had annexed the west bank and given the residents citizenship and the right to vote, then the moral right of the jews to settle the west bank would not go against the morality of disenfranchising a population. but israel did not annex and did not offer the vote to the residents and thus the act of settling amounted to an antidemocratic act.

    (a side note: democracy is on the decline with trump as us president. his minority of the popular vote contributes to the decline of democracy in the world. is democracy a moral value. i believe it is.)

    • Talkback on June 19, 2017, 6:44 pm

      Yes Yonah, Jews have the moral right to disenfranchise a Nonjewish population and violate their right to self determination by illegaly annexing and illegaly settling their territory. And that’s not an antidemocratic act, because Jews are asked what they want. Like in 1948. Who cares what Nonjews want. Anything else you have learned from the Herrenrasse, Yonah?

    • eljay on June 19, 2017, 8:54 pm

      || yonah fredman: … If Israel had annexed the west bank and given the residents citizenship and the right to vote, then the moral right of the jews to settle the west bank … ||

      Had Israel annexed the West Bank, Israelis – not “the Jews” – would then have been entitled to settle in the West Bank.

      || … is democracy a moral value. i believe it is.) ||

      I agree that democracy is a moral value.

      However, supremacism – including religion-based “Jewish State” supremacism – is not a moral value. But you believe it is.

    • RoHa on June 19, 2017, 10:35 pm

      “democracy is on the decline with trump as us president. his minority of the popular vote contributes to the decline of democracy in the world.”

      Because never before has a president or prime minister gained office on a minority vote.

      • Trygve on June 20, 2017, 11:47 am

        In the United States, Donald Trump is the fifth President elected to that office despite losing the popular vote.

      • wondering jew on June 20, 2017, 2:02 pm

        The United States was not a real democracy before the 1960’s when blacks gained the right to vote in the Southern States. The fact that the Trump victory was the second time in 5 elections that the minority of voters elected the president is significant in regards to the feelings of Democratic voters in large states that their votes don’t count as much as Republican voters in sparsely populated states. The electoral college undercuts America’s claim to democracy.

        But indeed there are many particulars about Trump that make his presidency a particularly vulgar assault on democracy. Democracy is a fragile system and Trump with his attempts to disqualify a Mexican judge, his midnight tweets and his attempt to get the head of the FBI to declare loyalty, is a particular specific threat to democracy. The electoral college victory (despite the popular vote loss) is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the threats that Trump poses to the ideas of democracy.

        (How can I tell Israelis that they should be ashamed of the Netanyahu premiership, when the US is led by Donald Trump, whose demagogic impulses far outweigh his democratic impulses?)

      • annie on June 20, 2017, 2:32 pm

        minority of voters elected the president is significant in regards to the feelings of Democratic voters in large states that their votes don’t count as much as Republican voters in sparsely populated states. The electoral college undercuts America’s claim to democracy.

        important point yonah. here’s another; not sure if you’ve been following the news about recent state’s dem conventions (calif, florida and mass come to mind), but there’s a deep crevasse in the dem party right now. lots of democrats are blaming the dem party, they don’t think their votes count unless they are supporting the establishment candidate. in fact, there is a class action lawsuit against the dem party going on right now in florida and last i checked the news the defendants’ attorney just told the court the dem party had the right to choose their candidates behind closed doors if they wanted to. just thought i’d mention.

      • Mooser on June 20, 2017, 3:25 pm

        “(How can I tell Israelis that they should be ashamed of the Netanyahu premiership,when the US is led by Donald Trump?”

        “yonah” even if our standing as Americans is tarnished, we still have moral and ethical obligations as Jews.

      • RoHa on June 20, 2017, 7:21 pm

        And the “first past the post” system undercuts the British claim to be a democracy.

        You should all adopt the Very Wonderful Australian Preferential Vote system that has led to Australia being run by sagacious, honest, far-sighted statesmen whose only concern is the well-being of the people of Australia.

        Real democracy requires sausages.

      • gamal on June 20, 2017, 10:15 pm

        “Real democracy requires sausages”

        its the Wurst, but extrawurst is the rod polse as Churchill says.

      • Keith on June 21, 2017, 10:33 am

        ROHA- “Real democracy requires sausages.”

        Vegetarian sausages? Seriously though, I have come to doubt that real democracy is even possible inasmuch as it goes against the hierarchical nature of tribal life which seems to have a genetic component. People tend to identify themselves as leaders (a few) struggling for power or followers (most) seeking reward as loyal group members. The notion of everyone exercising leadership prerogatives as citizens is not in evidence anywhere. So what you have in the US is capitalist democracy where the elites choose representative candidates who represent their interests and the citizens get to vote for their favorite in an electoral marketing extravaganza. In any event, real power lies with the financial institutions and other corporations who effectively run the political economy. One cannot even conceive of anything approaching democracy in any meaningful sense as long as wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of the elite. All talk of electoral reforms are a joke without a MASSIVE redistribution of wealth downward. And I can’t see that happening.

      • Bont Eastlake on June 21, 2017, 11:28 am


        Your spot on with regards to the dynamics of eager leaders and loyal followers in any functioning society. Both elements will always be separate but need each other in order to survive. The most important aspect of this relationship is the delicate balance between the needs of both sides. You cant have a population with hetegenous followers and homogenous leaders, or vice versa like we have in most Western societies.

      • Bont Eastlake on June 21, 2017, 12:00 pm

        Also in an ideal society, we will have a constant competition within the two classes for meeting their respective needs. The followers will try to best each other in being the most loyal, most supportive and most rewarded by their leaders through novel metrics. Likewise the leaders will also be in constant competition with each other for being the most loved, most helpful, most bountiful etc.

        This constant state of warfare of sorts fulfill the highest needs of every member of society, their self actualisation as human beings. The two classes will never compete with each other, just among themselves. But when relatively distinct members are introduced into society, the dynamics shifts to either assimilate the newcomers or to exterminate them, inviting a new set of dynamics into the system. Thus any form of resistance toward assimilation or extermination by the newcomers will lead to departure from ideal state of society, introducing inequality and dysfunction within its members.

      • Mooser on June 21, 2017, 1:28 pm

        “This constant state of warfare of sorts fulfill the highest needs of every member of society, their self actualisation as human beings.”

        Well, I know you are all ready for that “constant state of warfare”, but do yourself a favor, don’t enter any spelling bee’s.
        Say, can you spell “glibertarian”?

      • Keith on June 21, 2017, 2:56 pm

        BONT EASTLAKE- “This constant state of warfare of sorts fulfill the highest needs of every member of society, their self actualisation as human beings.”

        Surely you jest.

      • gamal on June 21, 2017, 3:37 pm

        “Also….dysfunction within its members.”

        the merest prod and you are off into word salad, you were doing so well for a while no one noticed that you are a total nutter, it reads like bf skinner channeling ayn rand, you blew it again, time to regenerate. Long Live the Revolution you mug.

  5. lonely rico on June 19, 2017, 8:08 pm

    Thanks US Citizen for the link to Head to Head video.

    The wonderful Dr. Ghada Karmi on Palestinian national aspirations –

    “Just get out of my land … Dani Dayan, you represent common thieves, live on stolen land, you drink stolen water, you eat stolen fruit, you farm stolen farms”

    And you murder, torture, and destroy Palestinian men women and children.

    • US Citizen on June 20, 2017, 11:53 am

      I loved it when she pointed out that he was born in Argentina, was from the Ukraine but felt he had more of a right to be in her country. Very good insight into the mind of these messianic, racist settlers.

  6. JLewisDickerson on June 19, 2017, 10:23 pm

    I’m not certain in exactly what ways, but I am convinced Dayan is in some ways very much like “Ken Doll”(who is originally from Brazil).

    Rodrigo Alves: The Human Ken Doll | This Morning

    Broadcast on 16/05/2016
    Rodrigo Alves has spent over £300K on plastic surgery in order to attain his perfect look. He tells Holly and Ben why, even after his nose collapsed, he’s still not stopping.

    Head to Head – Israeli settlers: Patriots or invaders?

    Published on Jul 6, 2013
    A UN report says Israeli settlements violate human rights and could be prosecuted as war crimes, but many Israeli settlers consider themselves patriots. So what hope is there for peace in the Middle East?In a country where settlers are now one of the biggest and strongest political movements, Dani Dayan, a Netanyahu advisor and the outgoing chairman of the Yesha (Settlers) Council, says there is no two-state solution to the conflict and that he is happy with the status quo.Dayan has been a major in the Israeli army, a successful IT entrepreneur, and a University lecturer. In 1999 he became an executive committee member of the Yesha Council, which represents the settler movement, and in 2007, its chairman until February 2013. He completely revitalised the movement until his resignation to campaign openly for Binyamin Netanyahu.Mehdi Hasan goes head to head with Dayan at the Oxford Union, discussing whether Zionism is a colonialist project, whether the so-called apartheid roads are just an urban legend – and more importantly, what is the solution to this protracted conflict?Dayan claims settlements are irreversible but preaches in favour of dismantling the wall. With a lively audience and robust debate from the expert panel, Head to Head is tackling the hard issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Are the settlements a natural extension of the Israeli state or the single biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East? Will the Palestinians ever be able to build an independent and viable state?Joining our discussion are: Dr Ghada Karmi, an academic and the author of The Palestinian Exodus (1999), In Search for Fatima (2002), and Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine (2007); Sam Westrop, a former director of the British Israel Coalition, and a fellow of the New York-based Gatestone Institute; and Hannah Weisfeld, the director of Yachad, a pro-peace, pro-Israel NGO based in London.

    • JLewisDickerson on June 19, 2017, 11:19 pm

      Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy

      Published on Jan 16, 2013

      MOTION: “Israel is Destroying Itself With its Settlement Policy: If Settlement Expansion Continues Israel Will Have No Future”

      Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society on 15th January 2013.

      Patriacide. Nationcide. Whatever you want to call it, that is what Israel is doing with its settlement policy: it is killing itself. If ever greater numbers of Jewish settlers are installed on land regarded by Palestinians as the basis for a state of their own, the possibility of a two-state solution grows ever more remote. Yet the single state alternative, involving annexation of the West Bank, would result in a country where Arabs vastly outnumber Jews and then you won’t have a one-state or a two-state solution: you’ll have a no-state solution. For those who love Israel and wish to preserve a democratic Jewish homeland, as much as for those who hate it, the settlements must stop. That’s what many left-wing Israelis and their friends say. But defenders of the settlements see things very differently. The two-state solution has long been a dead letter in their view: why stop building settlements in the name of a peace plan that is frankly unattainable? Whatever the eventual solution — it could even be a West Bank jointly governed by Jordan and Israel — there is no good reason why both Israelis and Palestinians shouldn’t both expand their settlements in the interim before an eventual peace deal.

  7. Ossinev on June 20, 2017, 1:30 pm

    “Yet liberal Zionists have now embraced the famously-charming ambassador”

    I generally think of Dayan as a wannabe Zionist comedian who sees his role as one of soft selling Israeli racist and Apartheid policies. Having watched and compared the two videos above I am not so sure anymore. In the IQ2 address he verges on the apoplectic at times. Could however simply be a build up of Ziohasbara constipation.

    Having said that however he still comes across as a lot less unhinged than the seriously spooky and deranged Glick who long ago burst her Ziohasbara constipation dam.

    Just imagine being marooned on a desert island with these two weirdos.

Leave a Reply