Danon Sets Agenda for Rising Right Wing

Knesset Kingmaker Leads Likud's Young 'Fantastic Four'

New Face of Right: Danny Danon is the young face of Israel’s right wing. He is proud of opposing Palestinian statehood and unapologetic about new laws that some say undermine democracy.
getty images
New Face of Right: Danny Danon is the young face of Israel’s right wing. He is proud of opposing Palestinian statehood and unapologetic about new laws that some say undermine democracy.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published January 05, 2012, issue of January 13, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Lawmaker Danny Danon pauses during an interview to scribble an important note to himself. A question about a derogatory portrayal of him in the left-leaning daily newspaper Haaretz gave him an idea: “I must remember to use this article in my campaign.”

In the piece in question, columnist Gideon Levy wrote that Danon “will be big, the sugar of the Israeli right.” But Levy insisted that Danon “doesn’t know a thing about democracy” and likened him to Senator Joseph McCarthy. Danon was exultant: An attack by a prominent member of the “extreme radical left,” the lawmaker said, is proof that he’s on the right track.

Danon is the best known of the Israeli right’s new fantastic four. The driving force behind the recent wave of Knesset legislation that has shocked many Israelis who fear it could undermine democracy — including President Shimon Peres, who has said that some bills make him “ashamed” — has been four Knesset freshmen: Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotovely, Ofir Akunis and Danon.

All are members of the ruling Likud party, but they take positions significantly to the right of the party leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and pride themselves on doing so.

“I see myself whispering in his right ear, telling him where he should stay,” Danon, the most prominent of them, said on December 20, shortly after submitting a bill to precondition driver’s license applications on an oath of loyalty to the state.

Netanyahu is open, with reservations, to the idea of a two-state solution, but the Likud freshmen are resolute that there must never be a Palestinian state. And while this is a classic Likud position, revised only in 2009 by Netanyahu, observers say that their domestic agenda is new to Israel and to their party.

“The Likud was a lot more liberal,” said Haifa University political scientist Doron Navot, referring to the party’s historic domestic positioning. On internal issues, the legacy of the Likud’s founder and longtime leader, Menachem Begin, was a “strong supreme court and strong minority rights,” he said. “There is a new idea of what democracy means — the rule of the majority, and that’s it.”

Among the measures that these young legislators are pushing —and that critics say threaten democratic discourse ­— are a law imposing sanctions on Israelis who speak out in support of boycotting settlements and a bill to increase financial penalties for libel by six-fold, including cases in which the plaintiff cannot prove any damages. Major Israeli media figures protest that the libel law will cripple reporting in Israel. Both measures enjoy the backing of Netanyahu. Another bill that the four back would heavily tax donations to not-for-profit groups whose work is deemed to be “political.” The bill would also outlaw donations to such nongovernmental organizations from foreign governments. That measure, which is likely to affect a wide swath of groups engaged in human rights and social advocacy, is expected to receive Cabinet approval soon.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.