Israel's Most Dangerous Enemy

Hardliner Danny Danon Brazenly Opposes Peace Talks

Hardline Threat: Danny Danon’s strident opposition to a negotiated settlement is more than political rhetoric. It’s a threat to Israel’s continued existence.
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Hardline Threat: Danny Danon’s strident opposition to a negotiated settlement is more than political rhetoric. It’s a threat to Israel’s continued existence.

By Leonard Fein

Published June 29, 2013, issue of July 05, 2013.
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The most dangerous current threat to Israel may well be Danny Danon, Deputy Minister of Defense and a star of Likud, the linchpin of the governing coalition. He is, in Robert Kennedy’s language characterizing Jimmy Hoffa, “the enemy within.”

True, Israel is threatened by Palestinian and other would-be terrorists who seek to maim and murder Israelis. But that threat is substantially under control. Danon, on the other hand, speaks not only his own mind but the mind of a significant segment of the Jewish population of Israel. And here is what he says — this as recently as June 13, on Channel 1 of Israeli television: “The Jewish people are not settlers in the West Bank, but Israel will make the Palestinians settlers and Jordan will be the one taking control over Palestinians and that’s it.” Asked about Kerry’s upcoming visit, Danon said there would never be a Palestinian state, whether Kerry visited or not. “Israel will control the empty land in the West Bank and turn Palestinian population centers into Jewish settlements.”

Echoing Danon, Ofir Akunis, a Likud Deputy Minister, generally considered a close associate of Netanyahu, asserted that “the Palestinians are not ready to have a state of their own. They are not even ready for full autonomy.”

So: Is it a mistake for the Palestinians to conclude that all the talk of a two-state solution is simply balderdash, loose talk designed to mollify America but not a reflection of genuine Israeli intention?

It was, as nearly as I can recall, Ehud Barak who first suggested that Israel had no partner with whom to negotiate. And if today the Palestinians claim that it is they who have no partner with whom to negotiate, are they mistaken?

There is no peace process, John Kerry’s frequent trips to the region notwithstanding. I do not fault Secretary Kerry’s intentions, but it is not only the road to Hell that is paved with good intentions; it is also the road to nowhere. And as much as Kerry and President Obama would love to broker a resolution of the endless conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, no significant element of a peace deal is even remotely in place. The current road to peace is in fact a road to nowhere.

This pleases Dani Danon, and he is not at all shy about saying so. Here is what he wrote in a recent OpEd piece in the New York Times: “While most voices in the Israeli and international news media are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to grant major concessions to the Palestinians to forestall such a move [the PA’s reputed intention of applying for statehood status at the UN] , he should in fact do the opposite: he should annex the Jewish communities of the West Bank, or as Israelis prefer to refer to our historic heartland, Judea and Samaria.”

Danon refers to “the mistake we made in 1967 by failing to annex all of the West Bank.” As to the Palestinians who live in the West Bank, they “would not have the option to become Israeli citizens, therefore averting the threat to the Jewish and democratic status of Israel by a growing Palestinian population.”

Danon’s understanding of democracy is obviously more than constricted; it is distorted, disfigured. That might be acceptable — free speech and all that — were he not an official of the Israeli government. But he is an official of the Israeli government. And he believes that such international storms as might be generated by his proposed policy would soon enough be spent. What matters, in Danon’s view, is to “further Zionist values and strengthen the State of Israel.”

I grew up a Zionist and a Zionist I remain. I do not recognize the “Zionist values” that Danon asserts. My late father, a reluctant Zionist, was concerned that the Jews might well fail at nationalism, as had so many others. And now comes Danon, determined to prove that my father’s skepticism was warranted.

That is what I mean when I call Danon “the enemy within”, a clear and present threat to the Zionist values to which he appeals and to the safety and welfare of the Jewish state.

Contact Leonard Fein at feedback@forward.com


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