Israeli Ambassador Dayan: Don’t neglect the Latino electorate
Ambassador Dani Dayan spoke with AL DÍA News about building bridges with the Latino community.
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Ambassador Dani Dayan is constantly challenging the mold. A former IT exec turned diplomat, Dayan has an interesting background that results in a mix of cultures, talents, and interests that make him a true representation of Latinos across the globe.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dayan moved to Israel at age 15 and after a successful stint in the field of information technology, he became Ambassador of Israel to the United States as Consul General to New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Ohio.
In an exclusive interview with AL DÍA News, Ambassador Dayan speaks at length about Israel’s connection to the Latino communities in the US and across the globe.
Why is the Latino community so important for you?
I always felt that we have a kind of moral debt to Latin American countries and their citizens. When the United Nations dropped the resolution advocating for the creation of a Jewish state in 1947, that resolution could not have been adopted without the strong support of Latin American countries. […] We never forget the fact that Latin America received with open arms Jews before the Holocaust and after the Holocaust. [...] The Latino communities - the Hispanic communities of this country - are fast growing and communities that acquire fast importance in the American political spectrum. [...] We cannot allow ourselves to neglect a community that has such importance of the Latino electorate.
What does the Latino community have to do to take advantage of the potential that you’re talking about?
I think that in some sense the Latino community in this country has [..] almost solely participated in matters that affect the community: matters of immigration, matters of health care. I think that in order for the Latino community to fulfill its true potential of leadership in this country, they have to be involved in every aspect of American life including, for instance, foreign relations, not only with Latin America but in the world.
Can you tell us more about specific efforts you see going forward?
Israel is the only country that since the days of it’s inception has a ministry of immigration absorption. It’s dedicated to make the lives of immigrants easier. So therefore, we have a lot of experience in fields like learning a language when you are an adult or finding employment in a different environment than the one that you are raised. And again, we are willing to expose our know-how to offer it.
What do you find interesting in Philadelphia?
Until August 2016, we had a Consulate in Philadelphia. For budgetary reasons, we were forced to close that consulate. And then, New York received responsibility over Pennsylvania. Our consulate in New York is much larger than the the consulate we had here in Philadelphia. Our consulate in New York is 3 or 4 times larger. [...] And many members of my staff come to Philadelphia very frequently. [...] Philadelphia has a lot of economic importance. We have here in Philadelphia a lot of Israeli companies established. Therefore, Philadelphia is a natural place to be.
What was your experience of Israel as a newcomer and how has that influenced your views on immigration now?
I immigrated to Israel when I was 15. [...] As I said, I’m a staunch believer in the centrality of Israel in the life of the Jewish people and I wanted very much to a part - an integral part, to be a protagonist - in that exciting adventure that is the state of Israel. But yes, we Israelis in general understand what it means to be an immigration society. Let me remind you that Israel, after Israel was created, tripled its population in barely 5 or 6 years by immigration that came from other countries - many were refugees from other countries. For Israel, immigration is a way of life [...] And we have much to share with the world in that respect.
Any concrete action to take from your office in New York to cultivate a relationship with the US Latino community?
Meet the leadership. After all, we are an embassy - a consulate - we don’t have the means and even the possibility to reach every single citizen. [...] We’ve already succeed to make inroads into the hearts of the Latino community starting with New York, but we will continue that work in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and other regions.