Yesterday, on the Israellycool Facebook page, I shared an event - Ask the Ambassador / Reddit AMA with Professor Danny Ayalon.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Time 12:00pm until 1:00pm in EST
Join Danny Ayalon, Israeli diplomat and politician, and the Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies at Yeshiva University for an Ask Me Anything session on reddit.
Ambassador Ayalon has served in Israel’s Foreign Service for over 20 years, most recently as deputy foreign minister in 2012. During his career, he has served as political adviser to three different prime ministers, Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, and in 2002, was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
He recently founded The Truth About Israel, a non-profit that educates the public about the core values of the state of Israel and combats delegitimization efforts, BDS and incitement against Israel. During this hour-long session, you’ll be able to ask Ambassador Ayalon questions on any topic, from Mideast peace process negotiations and Israeli foreign and domestic policies to the Arab Spring, Syrian civil war, Iran, or Jewish education and his experience teaching at Yeshiva University. Ask away!
Seriously, WTF is going on here? I dont like the man but he comes here to the sub, makes a post and the mods remove it?!? Even /r/arabs are linking it. The mod responsible should step down or be removed for such an absurd action
A moderator by the name of Yserbius has a perfectly “reasonable” explanation:
It was never intentionally removed. It ended up in the spambox by accident and that’s only checked a few times a day by the mods. It was only when OP messaged me, that I found it and approved it.
Do we think he is telling the truth or is he pulling an Erekat?
In any event, the questions and answers are here.
As you can see, some Redditors take the opportunity to get rather nasty at Danny. Besides the disrespectful tone of some of the questions, his answers were down-voted (making them less visible), prompting one user to post:
Stop downvoting Mr. Ayalon because you disagree with him. This is an AMA.
Seriously, do we want to ruin AMAs we don’t like? Because we’re not going to get any new ones if they can have so much backlash
This is just a reminder to all users to please follow Reddiquette when voting and commenting. A post or comment should be voted based on whether it is contributing to the community or adding new insight. Voting should not be based on whether you agree/disagree or like/dislike the statement. Following Reddiquette allows interesting people with unique experiences to host AMAs without being attacked for their beliefs, and showing them respect will encourage more interesting content in the future. You are certainly welcome to disagree and reasonably and respectfully explain why.
As an additional service for Israellycool readers, I have sifted through the questions and answers and am posting them below, minus all the nastiness in the Reddit thread.
Many in the United States feel that our relationship with Israel is a net negative for us. What would you say to that idea?
DA: The United States and Israel are natural allies. Based on sharing the same Judeau-Christian values, liberal democratic values and practices, rule of law, and in general free societies based on achievements and a vision for Tikun Olam (a better world for everyone). Our interests also coincide, as we want to spread freedom to all human beings, including those in the Middle East today. US and Israel interests also coincide as we try to rid the world from the threat of terrorism, extreme and dangerous ideologies and proliferation of nuclear arms. The net value to Israel from this relationship is abundant and critical. For Israel’s security and well being – but it is also very important for American national interests, as Israel stands as the first line of defense against fanatic Islamic terrorism and ideology. If G-d forbid, Israel’s security is compromised, so would be compromised the entire western civilization. The relationship is not focused only on strategic military intelligence cooperation, but also spans over economic, scientific research and development and culturally as well. We in Israel are proud to be America’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, as we purchase more American goods and services than any other country in the region. The scientific cooperation is also helping to ensure American cutting edge in technology.
What was it like working with those three incredible prime ministers?
DA: Each of them is uniquely different than the other, however, all are proud Jews whom are committed to Israel’s future and well being.
How does one get a job as an ambassador?
DA: First, you have to join the Diplomatic Core. There, the only prerequisites are an academic degree of any type – not necessarily in political science, and passing the Foreign Service Exams (which, include SAT type questions , general knowledge, and simulated scenarios).
Those are just the prerequisites. Then, if you serve long enough, most likely, one can become an ambassador starting in a small country and moving on to other countries.
On top of objective qualifications (language proficiency and general knowledge of the country), it helps to have a good sense of humor a thick skin for when your country is being unjustly attacked.
How do you think the peace process in the Middle East is going so far? What do you think the next step should be? Do you think there will be lasting peace within the next 5, 10, or 20 years?
For Israel and the Jewish people, peace is not only a strategic choice, but a moral obligation. I hope that the United states will be able to bridge the huge gaps which exist between the parties, and bring about a secure, and durable peace. However, there also must be a plan B, so that in case there is no agreement on a final status of agreement, we should try to come to an intermediate agreement which both Israelis and Palestinians should benefit from. The leaders should not make it a zero-sum game, because both Israelis and Palestinians deserve peace and prosperity which can come only through peaceful coexistence.
It is generally the consensus in pro-Israel circles that the United Nations is biased against Israel and focuses a disproportionate amount of attention on them. Do you agree with this assessment and if so, why do you think the United Nations focuses so much on Israel?
I totally agree with this assertion. The reason is that the Palestinians enjoy an automatic majority in the UN, based on Arab League counties, Islamic countries, and other countries which are forced to vote for them because of the long-standing oil embargo threat. The Palestinians have made the UN a rubber stamp to all their capricious policies, and made it a tool to de-legitimize Israel. This is not a credit to the United Nations, which was supposed to be impartial and “not discriminating on any men, women or nations.” (as written in their charter)
What is your reaction when someone speaking to you accuses Israel of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, etc.? Does it phase you emotionally and what is your response?
Any accusation of Israel of any human rights violations saddens me, because there is nothing that is further from the truth. So, those accusations maybe motivated by political bias against Israel or by ignorance. Israel is the onlydemocracy in the Middle East and our free press rule of law and self-criticism compared to other Western democracies. 1.5 Million of our citizens are not Jewish and they enjoy full rights and opportunities.
The 3.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza and Judea-Samaria are not Israeli citizens as these territories’ sovereignty are yet to be determined through negotiations.
Unfortunately the Palestinian leaders have consistently refused to sign a peace treaty with Israel and become independent.
What about Israeli use of chemical weapons in the gaza strip. This dude is a pro Israeli propaganda machine, I doubt he will engage in honest discussion of the tough topics.
Israel has never used any chemical weapons. Any accusations to the contrary are baseless and serve as a political tool against us.
The popular CBS drama series NCIS had a former Mossad officer as a main character for most of the last decade, and has frequently featured plotlines involving spying and other tactical work involving Mossad (for Americans, it is basically Israeli’s CIA). Have you ever seen any of that, and if so, how do you think the Israeli agency (and government) was represented?
While I haven’t seen the show yet, I have the highest respect for the Israeli intelligence community that works day and night to ensure our security and well being. I am also very proud that Israel and the US intelligence cooperation have saved many lives.
Give me three good reasons why we shouldn’t cut your aid, reasons beneficial to the US. Also give me three of your favorite dishes in Israel.
1a. 75% of the aid is spent in the United States, creating jobs here. 2a. This aid also helps America maintain its technological edge. 3a. A strong Israel is an American national interest.
1b. Humus 2b. Humus with Tehina 3b. Humus, Tehina and Falafel 4b. ??? 5b. Profit
Do you think there is a chance for a cohesive two-state solution for Israel and Palestine? If so, please explain. Thank you.
A two state solution can be cohesive under the following conditions: 1. It is two states for two peoples, hence, the Palestinians must recognize Israel’s self determination as a Jewish state. 2. Israel must maintain the capability to defend itself by itself and be responsible for security arrangements. 3. The Palestinians must stop all the incitement against Israel and the Jews in their school curriculum, national media, and in the international arenas.
What do you make of recent developments in Egypt, and, more generally, for the prospects of true representative democracies in your neighboring Arab states?
The choices in Egypt are not between military government and Jeffersonian democracy; it is between a military supported government and extreme Islamist government – similar to the Ayatollahs in Iran. So, from the Egyptians’ public interest, and the American geopolitical interests, it is important to support those forces in Egypt which do not yield to Islamist fanaticism.
What do you think about the ongoing negotiations with Iran? Can something good come out of their success? Are we handling these negotiations well? What are the ramifications for Israel?
So far, the negotiations with Iran have not achieved the goal of disarming Iran’s nuclear capabilities. An agreement should include a dismantling of Iran’s illegal nuclear capabilities and not just suspending them as the temporary agreement currently dictates. Iran so far got the benefit of relaxation of sanctions and relaxation of their political isolation, but have given nothing substantial in return. The only chance to correct this, is that if the US and the other P+1 powers will insist that a final agreement with Iran will be signed no later than June of this year, which will ensure the goal.
What is the best Jewish delicatessen in the US?
Im not sure about delis, but try the schwarma at Golan Heights on Amsterdam and 187th in NYC!
Shalom Mr. Ambassador!
As serving ambassador during the build up to, and subsequent invasion of Iraq what was your opinion on the US’ and coalition’s policy regarding the decision? How was your opinion changed, if at all, with the later release of classified information (i.e. Downing Street Memo)?
The American-led military operation against Sadam Hussein was legal and just as Saddam was in breach of many security council resolutions – defying the international community. And, as he threatened all his neighbors, Saddam Hussein was trying to achieve non-conventional weapons — He actually used chemical weapons against the Kurds in Chalabcha and against his own people.
What was the single hardest thing you had to do as an ambassador?
Visiting Jonathan Pollard in jail.
Why do kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
I applaud Danny for putting himself out there like this, in front of a mostly hostile crowd, albeit virtual. And for retaining his sense of humor.
And Danny, if you ever want to conduct such a session on here, you are very welcome.