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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Danon’

The Right Moment for Israel’s Danny Danon?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

Lunacy.” That’s how Danny Danon describes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to hand over 104 killers to the Palestinian Authority as a “goodwill gesture.”

He’s hardly alone, as many observers (including myself) are outraged by this move. But Danon, 42, has a unique place in this debate because he (1) sits in Israel’s parliament as a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, he (2) is chairman of Likud’s powerful Central Committee, and he (3) serves as Israel’s deputy minister of Defense. In American terms, his criticism resembles Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 2010 interview mocking Vice President Joe Biden. But McChrystal was gone within days whereas Danon continues to gain influence and stature.

Danon’s ability to denounce his own prime minister’s actions points to his not being a routine politician. Three qualities stand out: a devotion to principle, a mastery of tactics, and the ability to articulate a vision.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset's Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Danon has remained true to the core principles of his party and his country. His righteous opposition when his party makes mistakes – such as the 2009 freeze on building residences for Jews on the West Bank or accepting the two-state solution – shows a strength of character. As he points out, “It’s not easy being in a room of thirty people, alone saying no.”

His rise through Israel’s national camp institutions reveals tactical skill: serving as assistant to Uzi Landau, as head of the World Betar Organization, then head of the World Likud Organization, as organizer of street protests and challenger to the prime minister for the party’s leadership. These efforts culminated in his strong showing in his party’s electoral list (coming in No. 5) and the jaw-dropping 85 percent of the vote he won in elections to lead Likud’s Central Committee. With reason, the Forward newspaper calls him “a master of social and conventional media” and the Times of Israel deems him “a major stumbling block toward Palestinian statehood.”

Finally, the vision: Its fullest articulation is found in his 2012 book, Israel: The Will to Prevail (Palgrave), where he sketches an ambitious and contrarian view of his country’s foreign policy. Arguing that “history shows us Israel is often better off when she acts on her own behalf … even if that means contravening the wishes of U.S. administrations,” he concludes that the Jewish state “fares best when she makes decisions based on her own best interests.” Jerusalem, he holds, should pursue its goals “with or without backing from her allies.” This argument, commonplace enough for most states, is audacious in the case of small, beleaguered Israel.

Danon’s moment may have arrived. As Netanyahu appears to be making excessive and immoral concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Danon has emerged as a leading dissident ready to challenge his prime minister (remember “lunacy”). Should Netanyahu feel no longer welcome in his own party and leave it to found a new one (following exactly in Ariel Sharon’s 2005 footsteps), Danon will be a potential candidate to lead Likud and win a subsequent election.

One sign of his rise is the invective used against him. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni coined the term “Danonism” and demanded that Netanyahu reject it. Gideon Levy, an extreme left columnist for Ha’aretz newspaper, disdainfully but fearfully writes that “little Danny Danon will be big, the sugar of the Israeli right. … [he] will go far.”

Looked at in historical perspective, since the taciturn but principled Yitzhak Shamir left the prime ministry in 1992, his six successors variously engaged in political betrayal, ethical corruption, and delusional egotism. Sharon (2001-06) abandoned his electoral mandate to the point that he had to flee his own party, even as his financial shenanigans had him in constant trouble with the law. Ehud Olmert (2006-09) had to resign due to a cloud of corruption charges. Focused on the Iranian threat, Netanyahu did well since 2009 but his recent offer of 104 murderers disturbingly contradicts the electoral platform of a half year ago.

Will the Likud Remain Democratic?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

One piece of political news that probably went unnoticed to most, especially among all the coalition-negotiation rumors, was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering cancelling the Likud’s primaries.

An article about this was first published on Jan. 28th,  just after the Knesset election on Israel’s Walla news site. Then, over the last few days it sprung up again in Ma’ariv/NRG and Yediot. Another Feb. 10 article in Ma’ariv claims that the Prime Minister intends to have the primaries cancelled before ministers are sworn into the government – that is, potentially in a matter of weeks.

To most people this is just internal party politics, but it’s really not. It directly affects the democratic nature of the State of Israel. In Israel, voters do not choose individual candidates, they choose slates. In effect, there are 120 legislators, but not a single representative. The candidates themselves are chosen via internal party processes – sometimes by a committee – a larger “central committee” or a smaller secretariat or selection committee – sometimes by the chairman, sometimes by the membership in an open primary. Those primaries are the only opportunity a citizen has to vote for an actual legislator, the only time a legislator directly faces a citizen and is held accountable for his record.

Unfortunately, only a few parties hold primaries. Likud and Labor do. This past election cycle, the Jewish Home held primaries, but only half of its list was chosen in the primaries, the rest by the central committee of T’kuma/the National Union. Kadima held primaries for its chairman, but cancelled its primaries for its list because it was expected to only get a maximum of 3 seats (in the end it got two). In total, about 42-3 Members of Knesset were chosen in primaries, meaning about  1/3rd of Knesset Members were chosen by actual people and not by party bosses. Even more unfortunate, is the fact that only a small percentage, something like three percent, of the public is eligible to vote in a party primary, and even less actually do vote.

But still it’s a start. If Israel won’t change over to a district-based electoral system (one representative per district), the only hope for the Members of Knesset being chosen by the people is through the primaries.

The alleged reason for cancelling primaries is, reportedly, that there are those who believe that the Likud’s list was too right-wing and that cost it votes and at the same time, not all party members voted for the party. Or in other words, the “settlers” registered to the party to push candidates like Tzipi Hotovely, Danny Danon, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Moshe Feiglin. The problem with that allegation is that there are many factions within the party who behave this way (like unions and members registered by vote contractors); there probably was a higher voting rate among settlers who were registered for the Likud then those who weren’t;  and of the 11 seats the Likud-Beytenu list lost from its prior standing the Knesset, seven mandates worth of votes went to the right. Any internal party player, especially the Prime Minister knows all this.

It is true though that the primaries are intensely manipulated – by the various factions/MKs/branch chairmen/vote contractors (vote contracting, as I have explained elsewhere refers to the practice of registering people to the party and then kind of bargaining with their votes for personal gain). This is a huge problem. But this manipulation can only take place because so few people are registered to the party. Many of them are registered by internal players, who can trade on their votes.

If, on the other hand, a million or 500,000 people  instead of 120,000 were registered to the Likud, and those people were registered by the party itself and not for any specific internal party player, it would be too hard for any vote contractor or even group, such as a union, to register and control the numbers necessary to manipulate the system. Vote contracting in its current powerful form, would be a thing of the past.

That would require an immense registration effort by the party over several years. That is very possible. In Israel, however, long term solutions, are not the preferred solutions. It’s easier and more seductive to maneuver one’s way to power, which in this case may mean canceling the primaries and concentrate power in the hands of an even smaller group of people.

Can the Likud Survive without the ‘Feinschmeckers’?

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

This is the second entry in an in depth series about the composition of the Likud’s list of candidates for the Knesset. Yesterday’s entry discussed the fact that the Israeli media were quick to condemn the Likud’s rightward shift, but in fact of the first 25 of the Likud’s list (the candidates who are likely to be in the Knesset), 20 are members of the current Likud Knesset faction, three were required to be new faces,and the two other new candidates, Moshe Feiglin and Tzachi HaNegbi, who are both familiar faces to the Likud, balance each other out ideologically. So the Likud faction in the upcoming Knesset and the last are pretty much the same.

The big shock, to the media at least, was the fact that Benny Begin, Mickey Eitan and Dan Meridor – whom Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Liberman once labeled the Likud’s ‘Feinschmeckers’ – did not achieve realistic spots. But can it be claimed the Likud won’t be the Likud without them?

Well for one thing, the Likud was the Likud without Meridor and Begin for about a decade. Both of them left the party, each for different reasons (Meridor was finance minister and left over a disagreement about the Shekel exchange rate in 1997 while Begin left to found the Herut party in protest of Netanyahu’s executing the Hevron withdrawal and continuing with the Oslo process).

It should also be noted that Begin didn’t do that poorly in the primaries, he ranked 22nd on the national part of the list, but was bumped back to number 38 on the list because of all the spots reserved for geographic districts and certain demographics. What was surprising about Begin was that he had been number five in 2008 and now dropped so many spaces.

But this was a different election than in 2008, where every Knesset Member feared for his political future, new candidates from Kadima and Moshe Feiglin, who was expected to win a spot in the top 20, were introduced into the mix.

That Begin did as well as he did is surprising given that he has been completely inactive politically. He has no aides. He does not do political events. He does not register Likud members. Nor has he been very active or vocal publicly for the last few years (though in fairness to him, he had health problems). In any political system, even a ‘Likud prince’ like Benny Begin needs to campaign and he didn’t.

Begin also came out against “Hok Hasdarah” saying he was against “bypassing” the High Court of Justice, adopting the Leftist position about the supremacy of the Supreme Court, despite the lack of a constitution and the principle of “parliamentary supremacy” (according to which parliament is the supreme lawmaking body).

This earned him a bad reputation among the Likud’s ideological membership, but that didn’t seal his fate. He could have received sufficient support elsewhere, but he didn’t campaign. And again, despite that, he still managed to score 21, 600 votes – more than twice what was needed to win in 2008 – and rank 22nd among the national candidates. The difference between him and Carmel Shama HaCohen, the last ‘national’ candidate to get a secure spot, was a mere 230 votes.

Nevertheless, the loss of Begin would be a blow to the Likud. Begin is a powerful and respected voice against Palestinian statehood, so if he were again offered to be a minister-without-portfolio that would be good for the Likud and the country.

But remember, it was that opposition to Palestinian statehood that led people to say in 2008 that his rejoining of the Likud had made the Likud too extreme. For example, here is an Arutz Sheva interview with Dan Meridor, where Meridor is asked if he would be able to work with Begin despite their sharp disagreement regarding Palestinian statehood. Meridor tries to smooth over those disagreements, but acknowledges that they exist.

It is therefore quite disingenuous now for pundits to claim that Likud without Begin is an extremist Likud, when they claimed that the Likud with Begin was an extremist Likud.

Like Begin, Meridor was not politically active. I met his chief of staff once. The meeting did not go well. He made insulting comments, stating that only an “abel” (apparently Arabic pejorative for mentally disabled) “doesn’t believe we’re giving them [the Palestinians] something [a state],” that was not long after my associate and I had politely informed him that we represented a more nationalist group. Going into the meeting, we knew Meridor’s politics, but we thought we might find common ground on other issues. The way Meridor’s Chief of Staff handled it was just bad politics. If that was an example of Meridor’s political strategy, it’s no surprise that he lost.

Likud’s Pro-Settlements Shooting Star Hints He Wants Housing Ministry

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Likud Member of Knesset Danny Danon said on saturday night that in the next government, the ministry of housing and construction, which oversees and provides assistance for new construction, including in Judea and Samaria should be held by a Likud member.

To that end, voters should give the Likud as many mandates as possible, as that will make it easier for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the portfolio within the party. It is currently held by Ariel Attias of the Shas party.

Danon’s comments were made at the Member of Knesset’s victory-Chanukah party in Rishon Letzion, which was attended by hundreds of Likud members and activists who supported Danon in recent Likud primaries.

Surprising many, Danon, who is considered one of the most nationalist members of the Likud, ranked fifth in the primaries among Likud candidates for the Knesset. After the merger of the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu’s list of candidate for the Knesset, Danon is number nine.

Normally, Knesset Members who rank so high in a party are considered for positions in the cabinet if the party forms or is part of the government.

Danon could be indicating what ministry he would prefer to hold in the next government.

However, despite his success in the recent primaries, Danon, has often clashed with Netanyahu, making it less likely that Netanyahu will offer him a ministry.

In addition, there has been speculation that Netanyahu will want to provide ministerial positions to Likud members who are part of the current government, but did not rank high in the Likud primaries. These include Minister of the Treasury Yuval Steinitz as well as several members who ranked so low in the Likud primaries they are not likely to appear in the next Knesset at all, Benny Begin, Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor.

Current Likud ministers, Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan, Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, Minister for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev Silvan Shalom, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, all ranked in the top ten in the Likud’s primaries and are all expected to receive portfolios in the next government.

MK Danon Urging Netanyahu to Fire Barak for his ‘Wacky’ Statements

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

MK Danny Danon (Likud) on Saturday night asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in response to the latter’s remarks against the Likud.

“Barak is a dying breed. His wacky statements are the symptoms of his being a political corpse. He used to head the government and now he heads only himself,” Danon said.

The Eagles Have Landed

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Israeli summer is in full glory – ice-cold watermelon, late-afternoon cookouts, summer camp, and the arrival of another planeload of smiling, energized immigrants from North America, courtesy of Nefesh b’Nefesh, the Jewish Agency, the Ministry of Absorption, and the Jewish National Fund.

The third flight since June 18 brought 229 Jews home on the “wings of eagles” from New York’s JFK airport.

Two young olot actually fulfilled the custom of kissing the hallowed ground, in this case the Ben Gurion tarmac.

Two young olot actually fulfilled the custom of kissing the hallowed ground, in this case the Ben Gurion tarmac.

The new Israelis – young and old, singles and large families – were greeted with tears and warm embraces from family members, as well as songs and a celebratory, 800-people welcoming ceremony organized by Nefesh b’Nefesh and its partners.

There was an 800-people welcoming ceremony on hand.

There was an 800-people welcoming ceremony on hand.

Among the dignitaries present to address the honored immigrants was Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Chairman MK Danny Danon.

“I’m honored, and we are all excited to come and greet you today because for you it’s a special moment, but also for the people of Israel,” Danon told the attendees.  Offering respect to recently deceased Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, Danon told the crowd a story about a question he once asked the respected Israeli leader.

“After I introduced him in an event in Florida many years ago, I was younger, with more hair…  I asked Shamir ‘what was your great achievement? Leading the underground? Being in the Mossad? Being the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the prime minister? What was your great achievement , Mr. Shamir?  He told me ‘Listen, young guy. The great thing is to bring olim to eretz yisrael [the Land of Israel]’, that’s what he believed, and that is what we are doing here today.”

However, Danon offered a stark contrast between the number of immigrants choosing Israel as their home, and the number of Africans doing the same.  “Unfortunately, there are more African infiltrators who come from Africa to Israel than olim who come to Israel every year.  So the government must do more,” Danon said.

“I want to tell you, the people who made the decision – for you, it was a personal decision.  You chose to bring your family, you chose to come to live in Israel, you made the right decision.  The best place to bring up, to educate Jewish families is here in Israel, and I know that you come from a wonderful community, but you will not regret it.”

In the 10 years since Nefesh b’Nefesh’s inception, the group has assisted 30,000 Americans, Canadians, and British Jews in making aliyah.  Included in that number are 2,500 new IDF soldiers, 378 physicians and psychologists, 650 scientists and medical professionals, and 2,300 new residents in Judea and Samaria. The good times have kept on rolling after the planes landed, with  immigrants celebrating 4,000 births, and 640 marriages.

Yael Katzman, Director of Communications for Nefesh b’Nefesh, said that while the organization continues to receive applications from Jews of all backgrounds and personal situations, it has noticed an increase in the number of singles and young professionals choosing to make Israel home.  Nefesh b’Nefesh has responded by specializing events and information for the group.

“We’re doing all sorts of special programming for them,” Katzman said.  “Next month we have a boat ride we’re organizing in the NY area so they can get together and hear about Israel and aliyah and network with each other.”  Approximately 1,400 young professionals are expected to touch down in 2012.

One of those young professionals is Tag Adler, son of Yeshiva University Dean Norman Adler, who returned to Israel after several years in Los Angeles while his wife pursued her PhD, and left the illustrious Google Corporation to make Israel home.

“The market here is incredible for hi-tech in general – this is ‘startup nation’, so I knew that if I left Google, I could come here and find another job and luckily I was able to do that,” Adler said. “And there’s so much talent here and so much opportunity, that people should not be intimidated to come here to get a better job. In fact, I got a really good job, even a step up from what I was doing with someone else, so the dream can come true in Israel.  You can have your cake and eat it too here in Israel.”

According to Katzman, the majority of American immigrants harken from New York and New Jersey.  Among the concerns Nefesh b’Nefesh helps them address are separation from family members staying behind in the Diaspora, language barriers, and employment.

“Nefesh b’Nefesh was created on the foundation of helping people overcome the obstacles, whether it’s employment or integration or bureaucratic processing, but these are all things Nefesh b’Nefesh has tried to help with and it’s the secret to our success in the last decade,” Katzman said.

Despite criticism that Nefesh b’Nefesh has not garnered a huge surge in the number of Jews hearing the call to return to the homeland, Katzman noted that Nefesh b’Nefesh applications continue to pour in, and that the numbers are only rising.  “We’re expecting close to 5,000 olim this year,” Katzman said.  “We have never experienced a decrease in the number of olim – we’ve only gone up.”

Overwhelmingly, said Katzman, Nefesh b’Nefesh olim are Jews who connect deeply to their Jewishness.

“The people who are making aliyah are people who are affiliated or people who feel a strong sense of Jewish identity, they are committed,” said Katzman.

“Your family’s going to have to respect your decision that you have to live your dream, and they’re going to have to really love you and set you free to do that,” Adler said.  “But ultimately you’re going to have to make that choice to live that dream.”

 

Peace Now: MKs Protesting Illegals Promoted Racism, Violence

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The general director of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheier, has urged Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to open a criminal investigation into MKs Miri Regev (Likud), Danny Danon (Likud), and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), for making speeches Wednesday in Tel Aviv he says incite racism and violence.

The speeches were made to approximately 1,000 protesters in South Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, in response to a wave of illegal immigration and associated surge in crime in the area.  While some illegal immigrants have made the trek to Israel from Sudan and Eritrea to escape persecution, others have taken advantage of Israel’s high level of humanitarian aid and labor opportunities.

In her speech, Regev made comments such as “the infiltrators are a cancer in our body”, and advocated their deportation from Israel.  Twelve protesters were arrested during the event, which deteriorated into rioting.

According to local residents in south Tel Aviv, the streets have become unsafe, with women and the elderly afraid to walk outside.    On May 15, 4 Eritrean men were charged with raping a 19 year old Israeli woman in a parking lot in the area, one of several such incidents which have reportedly occurred since the area become a haven for illegal African immigrants.

Deputy Speaker Danon: We’ll Stop Barak’s Creeping Erosion of Judea and Samaria

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Likud MK and Knesset Deputy Speaker  Danny Danon said that if Defense Minister Ehud Barak is not stopped now, there are nine thousand housing units in Judea and Samaria which are being challenged like Ulpana Hill and the Jewish purchased residences in Hebron.

“We must stop this erosion and say, enough, we won’t let Barak carry out a creeping erosion of the settlements of Judea and Samaria,” Danon told JewishPress.com Sunday night, at the end of a crowded assembly outside the homes of Ulpana Hill in Bet El, under the banner “The Likud Is With the Settlement Movement” (Ha’Likud im ha’hityashvut).

MK Danon was one of a dozen or so Likud MKs and other dignitaries who arrived Sunday evening to show their support for continued and even expanded Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.

Danon promised before Passover to pass legislation to correct the Migron issue, whereby the Israeli High Court had annulled a deal signed between the government and the settlers to prevent a forcible evacuation, and instead provide them with alternative housing on a nearby hill.

“Last week the Knesset convened during its recess, to discuss these very issues,” Danon told JewishPress.com. “Migron was the beginning. It continued with Machpelah House, and now Bet El.”

“There are a few legislative options,” Danon continued. “I have endorsed the Settlement Regulation Act. It’s a good, appropriate, Zionist option. There are other ideas as well.”

The Settlement Regulation legislation determines that after some time has passed and a previously unknown Palestinian claimant comes up with documentation of ownership of an existing settlement, the alleging owner will receive monetary compensation or alternative land, if they can prove their ownership.

Some speakers at the Likud solidarity meeting outside the Ulpana Hill homes have suggested that today all a Palestinian person has to do is go to the Palestinian Authority and receive a piece of paper saying a certain plot of land belongs to him. We asked Danon how the court would go about verifying such claims, which are becoming rampant with the encouragement of leftist, pro-Palestinian Israeli organizations, many of which are directly or indirectly funded by the European Union.

“The mother of all evils is the fact that we have not enforced Israel’s authority over Judea and Samaria,” said Danon. “Today the process is that they don’t go to a court, but instead they begin with filing an appeal with the Supreme Court. And there the entire process of proving ownership is more problematic (as the high court may accept evidence which would never be acceptable to a civil court — YY). If the same claim were filed with a normal court, this would not have been the outcome.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/deputy-speaker-danon-well-stop-baraks-crawling-evacuation-of-judea-and-samaria/2012/04/23/

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