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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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‘Sometimes We Forget That We’re A Sovereign State’: An Interview with MK Danny Danon

MK Danny Danon

MK Danny Danon

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I think we have to make decisions according to what is good for us. Even though we – Israel and the U.S. – are strong allies and share the same values and enemies, when it comes to decisions, we have to do what’s good for us, no matter what.

I give two examples in the book. The first one is the Yom Kippur War. Golda Meir was afraid to [launch a preemptive strike against Egypt] because she was afraid of Henry Kissinger. We paid a very heavy price because of that. The second example is Prime Minister Begin who decided to attack the Iraqi nuclear reactor even though he knew he wouldn’t have the support of the U.S. at that time.

In the book, I also touch on the issue of President Obama pushing the prime minister for a settlement freeze and a two-state solution. I think at the beginning Netanyahu made a mistake, trying to appease President Obama. Afterwards, though, he stood on principle and told him, “No, we cannot do this.”

Israelis always seem terribly concerned with what the U.S. thinks of it and its policies. Why?

I think because we have many enemies and the U.S. is a strong ally that supports Israel in the UN and on many other occasions. Sometimes, though, we forget that we’re a sovereign state. [Sometimes, it’s important] to say, “Yes, we love the U.S., but we’re not the U.S.” We have different interests. And when it comes to a conflict of interests, we have to do what’s good for us.

In that vein, why is Israel currently asking the U.S. to bomb Iran? Isn’t Iran really much more Israel’s problem than the U.S.’s?

I don’t think we’re asking America to bomb Iran, I think that we’re expecting to see a joint effort of the democracies around the world united against this threat. And we expect to see the leadership coming from Washington.

Iran is an immediate threat to Israel. But eventually it will be a threat also to America and Europe. Nobody can guarantee that [Iran’s nuclear] technology will only be used against Jews. It’s a global threat, and that’s one thing we are trying to convince the rest of the world [about].

Why? If America or Europe doesn’t see matters in this light, let Israel bomb Iran itself. Why is it important for it to convince others to join it?

Because it’s not an easy operation, and I think it will be much more effective if other forces are involved.

In media articles about Moshe Feiglin – head of the far-right Manhigut Yehudit organization – your name occasionally pops up. What do you think of Feiglin?

I just met him two days ago, and I wish him success in his race in the upcoming elections.

Feiglin has many friends but also many enemies. Which category would you place yourself in?

I would put myself as his friend, but that doesn’t mean I accept all of his ideas. He has his ideas, and I have my ideas. But I think that there is a place in the Likud for his ideas, especially when you have people like Dan Meridor in the Likud.

Feiglin’s stated goal is to become prime minister. Supposing he attained this goal, would you be pleased?

Well, I wish him success on becoming a member of Knesset; I think that will be a start. One of the main things of the Likud is that it’s a democracy. So if he will be able to convince the majority of Likud members [to elect him head of Likud, fine]. But I think it’s too early to discuss it.

Do you have ambitions to become prime minister?

I think everybody in politics needs ambition. Ariel Sharon, whom I was close to before the Disengagement, once told me that politics is like a pyramid – every MK wants to become a minister and every minister wants to become prime minister. I am in this game. I am in my first term as an MK and I hope to move up to a minister position.

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About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and holds a Masters degree from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel School of Jewish Studies.


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