(JTA) – J Street slammed Israel’s newly named consul general to New York, former settler leader Dani Dayan, for describing the liberal pro-Israel group as “anti-Israel” and “un-Jewish.”
Dayan, who was named to the post on Monday in a brief statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, made the remarks during an interview that aired Sunday on Israel’s i24news television channel.
“I prefer the attitude of AIPAC to that of J Street that endorses all the anti-Israel candidates – the more anti-Israel you are, the more you are endorsed by J Street. That’s un-Jewish,” he said during the interview, which had been taped several days earlier.
Dayan is a former head of the Yesha Council representing Israel’s West Bank settlements, and a resident of Maale Shomron in the West Bank.
J Street said in a statement issued Tuesday night that the group “proudly represent(s) the mainstream beliefs of a large segment of pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans and of American Jews.”
“Particularly in New York, where Mr. Dayan will be posted, he will find the beliefs of many in the Jewish community more in line with our world view than his. He will find it more fruitful to engage in substantive debate on the issues in his new post than to engage in personal attacks on the large number of Jews in the New York area and across the country who disagree with him. These kinds of slurs impugning our faith should simply be out-of-bounds for an official emissary of the Israeli government,” the statement said.
Dayan later acknowledged that what he said was “somewhat undiplomatic.”
J Street said in its statement that its leaders wish he would go further and say his statements are “flat-out wrong.” The group also said it hoped that its future engagement with Dayan would be in the “spirit of respectful dialogue debate.”
Dayan released a statement late Tuesday night in which he said he is “humbly aware of the responsibility resting on my shoulders.”
“New York is home to the largest and most diverse Jewish community outside of Israel. I intend to engage in sincere, open and inclusive dialogue with all parts of the Jewish community and the general public, as I always have,” the statement said.
J Street said in an earlier statement that it was against Dayan’s appointment due to his adamant opposition to a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but praised him for his willingness to engage in dialogue and debate.
Dayan had been tapped last August to serve as Israel’s ambassador to Brazil, but the Brazilian government remained silent on the choice to signal an official rejection of Dayan’s credentials because of his settler past. The appointment to the New York post ended the months-long standoff over the initial Brazil appointment.