Aug. 16, 2015
The Israeli prime minister has garnered some harsh criticism, even from friendly quarters, for naming Danny Danon—a Likud politician known for his vocal opposition to Palestinian statehood—as Israel’s newest envoy to the United Nations. Jonathan Tobinsees a strong logic behind the decision:
Netanyahu may actually be counting on Danon’s ambition causing him to avoid saying stupid things or starting needless quarrels. . . . By giving him the opportunity to demonstrate a grasp of foreign affairs that goes beyond slogans, . . . Netanyahu may be hoping that Danon will behave in a manner that will do his country credit. Indeed, Danon’s promise to represent Netanyahu’s policies faithfully, including a two-state solution, seems to indicate that he is probably more interested in getting ahead than in ideological purity.
[Furthermore], having as one of its chief spokespersons someone who can articulate Israel’s case in a non-defensive manner won’t harm Israel. For decades, too many professional Israeli diplomats have de-emphasized any mentions of Israel’s rights in the conflict with the Palestinians and spoken instead only of its security. . . . In the last two years, Netanyahu has rightly sought to change that by appointing ambassadors with more forthright styles. . . .
[And] those who worry about Danon alienating the Obama administration are over-thinking the problem. Obama has already crossed the Rubicon on relations with Israel. With Washington clearly looking to downgrade the alliance with Israel as it pursues détente with Iran and perhaps a new peace initiative with the Palestinians, it won’t hurt to have an Israeli at the United Nations who won’t be afraid to point out the truth about Palestinian intransigence or Jewish rights.