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Danny Danon on His New Book about His UN Tenure

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon discussed his new book, “In the Lion’s Den: Israel and the World,” and current events in a phone interview with the Journal.

“In the Lion’s Den,” which was published on May 13, largely focuses on Danon’s tenure at the U.N. and his constant fight against those who hate Israel in the halls of the international body. “I knew I represented not only myself, but the entire Jewish people,” Danon told the Journal, adding that it “comes from my background.” “I’m not afraid to be by myself sometimes when I believe in the cause.” 

“I represented not only myself, but the entire Jewish people” – Danny Danon

In the book, Danon recalls drawing inspiration from the “warrior mentality” of his father, who immigrated to Israel from Egypt shortly after the Jewish state was established. Danon’s father suffered a military injury at the age of 29 and consequently “could not speak well or hear,” so Danon would serve as a “translator” for his dad. Danon credits this experience for instilling in him the “confidence to speak, ask questions and argue if needed.” Despite his injury, Danon’s father would “keep busy and work” as often as he could, which “had a profound effect on my own character,” Danon wrote. “It contributed to the strong feelings I have today about Israel’s place in the world. As a result, I am not afraid of what people think about my views.”

And Danon showed no fear in standing up for his country in the U.N., even when he found himself pitted against the United States. In the waning days of the Obama administration, Danon learned from a representative of a Muslim country that the administration was working to pass U.N. Resolution 2334, which declared the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) — including the holiest sites in Judaism — to be “occupied Palestinian territory” in violation of international law. Neither then-President Barack Obama nor then-U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power responded to phone calls from then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Danon. The U.S. ultimately abstained from the resolution, thus giving it clearance to pass. Danon wrote in the book that he attempted to get other countries to vote against it, to no avail; the representative from Ukraine told Danon that they supported the resolution due to pressure from the Obama administration.

But Resolution 2334 was not the only anti-Israel resolution put forth by the Obama administration; the administration also introduced a resolution titled “Parameters for Peace” that outlined a potential peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on issues such as “borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem” that went “very far against Israel,” Danon wrote in the book. The resolution never went public because Russia would have vetoed it, a move that “would have been quite embarrassing for the U.S.” 

“I think [Obama] wanted to draft his narrative about the peace process,” Danon told the Journal, adding that he also thought that Obama had a personal vendetta against Netanyahu after the prime minister railed against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in front of Congress. “I think it was payback coming from Obama a week before he left office.”

The book also describes Danon’s various successes during his time in the U.N. This includes teaming up with then-U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley to retract a March 2017 U.N. report alleging that Israel is engaging in apartheid against the Palestinians; and lobbying to have a resolution condemning Islamophobia following the 2019 Christchurch shootings also denounce antisemitism. Danon was also able to get the U.N.’s cafeteria to start serving kosher food; on the first day it became available, the kosher food sold out in the cafeteria. Additionally, Danon explained how he was able to forge relationships with various countries by highlighting how Israel can help them with their various issues.

Danon told the Journal that while he was in the U.N., various Arab countries would publicly criticize Israel but privately express support for the Jewish state. 

Danon told the Journal that while he was in the U.N., various Arab countries would publicly criticize Israel but privately express support for the Jewish state. For example, prior to the Abraham Accords, Danon “was collaborating with them behind the scenes” despite some of them speaking out against Israel. “Now we’re doing it publicly, so it gave me a lot of strength and source for optimism,” Danon said. 

The former U.N. ambassador also expressed concern over the potential revival of the Iran deal. “I think it would be very dangerous for Israel, for the allies of the U.S. in the region, and also for the American people,” he told the Journal. Danon added that the threat of a nuclear Iran as well as its terror proxies was something that brought Israel closer together with various Arab countries that also view a nuclear Iran as a threat.

Danon expresses strong opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, noting that even the Palestinians don’t support BDS because they benefit from Israel’s economy. “The only reason to support BDS is to promote hatred,” he wrote. Danon recalled how a November 2017 event at New York’s Queens Museum reenacting the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan was initially canceled thanks to the museum’s director at the time being a vocal BDS supporter; Danon was able to garner enough pressure to reverse the museum’s decision. “We need to be strong and be vocal … and fight hate,” he said.

When the Journal asked if Danon would consider going back into politics, he said that he learned a lot from his time in the U.N. and he eventually intends “to take advantage” of what he learned and “put it into action for the people of the country that I love so much.”

Source: Jewish Journal

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