Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon was interviewed by Lisa Rozner, reporter for CBS News NY, at the Arutz Sheva Jerusalem Conference in New York on May 19.
Danon, the head of World Likud, spoke about his new book “In the Lion’s Den” in which he wrote about his five years at the United Nations.
“After finishing five long years at the UN, I decided that I wanted to share the stories from behind the scenes with as many people as I can,” Danon said. “I’m optimistic Israel today is in great shape. We have strong bonds, we have new friends today in the Gulf. And when you read the book you learn what’s happening behind the scenes at the UN, on the world stage of diplomacy.”
He learned many things during his time as ambassador.
“First I learned to be a proud Jew, not to hide our Judaism. When I spoke in the Security Council, I put my kippah on my head and I read from the Bible. My colleagues in Jerusalem and the minister of foreign affairs told me, “Danny, what are you doing? You know it’s the Security Council.’ I told them, ‘Exactly.’ First, we speak about of Biblical rights to the land, then we speak about international law and other issues. When you respect the tradition in the Jewish religion, you get respected.”
He explained that when he began at the UN, they brought Jewish and Israeli holidays. They did a Tashlikh service, Passover, Hanukkah and other holidays.
“For me, it gave me a lot of strength and also a lot of respect at the UN,” Danon said.
Responding to the UN high commissioner for human rights criticizing Israel for police clashing with mourners during the funeral for the Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, Danon said:
“First, we regret the tragedy. Every loss of life, of innocent civilians and reporters, we regret it. But let me ask them, ‘Where have you been when 19 Jews were massacred on the street of Israel? Why haven’t we heard the UN? Why haven’t we heard [U.S. Secretary of State] Blinken? Why haven’t we heard anyone from the UE condemning the attacks against us?’ That’s hypocrisy in action. We are willing to investigate this incident but unfortunately the Palestinians, they care more about blaming Israel rather than looking into the truth.”
Was Danon surprised to see the UN Security Council issue a statement reiterating that journalists should be protected like civilians which called for the UN to investigate?
“I wasn’t surprised but I want to share with you that at the UN, you have the public UN and the private UN,” he explained. “Publicly, they put out those ridiculous statements and allegations but privately they admire and want to get closer to us, and I think our main challenge is to close the gape between the public UN and the private UN.”
In terms of what can be done about rising antisemitism, Danon explained that there are steps that need to be taken.
“First, we should not be afraid from those antisemites. We are the eternal people, we will prevail. When you look at the history of the Jewish people, you always had someone against us. Today, it’s different names but when we have the inner strength we can move forward and that’s what I did at the UN. I brought to the UN thousands of Jewish students to fight antisemitism and BDS, and inside the General Assembly we had a beautiful event and I think for that matter we should demand more sometimes."
He continued: "We are afraid to ask our colleagues for answers and I’ll give you an example. When Secretary Blinken came to Israel, before the month of Ramadan, he spoke next to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and Secretary Blinken said ‘I hope you will control settler violence right before Ramadan.’ I expected our prime minister to stop and tell him, ‘Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, the problem ahead of us is not settler violence, the problem ahead of us is incitement about the Temple Mount. The incitement we heard from the Palestinian Authority, from Hamas.’ He didn’t do it and look what happened. Afterward, we saw a wave of terrorism, the Temple Mount for a month became a playground for radicals. We should be stronger and we can be stronger, even with our allies at the UN.”
Since Danon’s tenure at the UN, he is optimistic about the fight against the BDS movement.
“Look where we are today. All major Jewish organizations fight BDS, students have tools to fight BDS,” he said. “One of the things I want to share with the young generation here today, it’s never going to end, we are not going to wake up one morning and say, ‘That’s it we won, we defeated BDS, antisemitism.’ It’s about us being strong enough to continue to fight against that.”