Leading Israel in New York: Dani Dayan, Consul General
Have you wondered who represents the State of Israel in New York? The current Consul General is the Honorable Dani Dayan. He has held this position since August, 2016 after being nominated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Interesting Pathway to Manhattan
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1955), Dayan moved to Israel in 1971 and lived in the Tel Aviv area of Yad Eliyahu. Dayan graduated from Bar Ilan University with a BS in Economics and Computer Science and obtained his Masters in Finance from Tel Aviv University. Dayan spent over 7 years in the Israel Defense Forces, serving in the elite MAMRAM computerized data processing center, attaining the rank of Major.
Although he has had an illustrious career in government, Dayan brings a depth of experience in the Israeli private sector to his New York position. In 1982, at the age of 26, he started an information technology company (Elad Systems) which he directed until 2005. The company focused on the development, integration and maintenance of sophisticated information systems, outsourcing, and facility management with clients in the public and private sectors. His link to technology continues as he invests in high-tech companies and lectures at Ariel University.
Dayan entered politics in 1988 when he became the Secretary -General of the Tehiya political party and was a candidate to the Knesset. He became a member of the Executive Committee of the Yesha Council where he served for 8 years, before elected Chair (2007). In his role as a c-suite executive, he focused on settlers’ interests (2010) and changed the council into an effective political lobby, using the concept of American political lobbies as his template.
In 2013 Dayan resigned to focus on his mission – holding onto the West Bank, seeing this arrangement as in the best interest of Israel. Dayan is perceived as the, “face of the Israeli settlement movement to the international community.” Dayan has opposed the formation of a Palestinian state and holds the belief that Israel’s claim to the West Bank is based on historical data.
My meeting with Dayan was not to discuss politics but rather to review the current growth of tourism to Israel. In 2018 approximately 4 million tourists visited Israel, an all-time record, and to make the picture even rosier, tourism receipts exceeded US$6.3 billion. The increase can be linked to a US$93 million marketing campaign that reached markets in the US, Germany, Russia, Italy, England, China, Ukraine, Brazil and the Philippines.
The tourism sector has been encouraging entrepreneurship, budgeting US$38.5 million to motivate the building of new accommodations throughout the country, resulting in the addition of approximately 4000 new rooms. To sustain the growth momentum, Israel is opening new routes and working collaboratively with new travel organizations, including countries that share borders with Israel.
The Consul General highlighted the fact that in recent years the country has added new airline routes to/from international cities, introducing a marketing strategy that embraces leisure and year-round visits, working with online travel agencies, and coordinating global activities (i.e. international cycling competitions and song contests).
While over 40 percent of tourists to Israel are from repeat visitors, some tourist concerns include:
- Visitors can expect expenses to be on par with London and New York. However, if travelers can look beyond luxury hotels, Israel offers hostels and affordable accommodations through Airbnb. While there are many restaurants at a variety of price points, street food in Israel is considered to be very good and value priced.
- Until very recently weekend public transportation was unavailable; however, this is no longer an issue, as free public bus transportation runs from Friday evening through Saturday evening.
Good News for Visitors
Tel Aviv is an international center for LGBTQ tourists. The annual gay pride celebration attracts thousands of Israelis and tourists with the parade attracting more than 150,000.
Israel has more vegans per capita than any other country. A 2014 survey determined that 8 percent of Israelis are vegetarian and almost 5 percent are vegan (only 0.5 percent of the world’s population is vegan).
Israel is home to both the lowest spot on earth, the Dead Sea, and the world’s lowest freshwater lake, the Sea of Galilee.
After Canada, Israel is the world’s 2nd best educated country (2012 OECD).
The Yad Sarah organization has equipment to assist visitors to Israel (i.e., wheelchairs, crutches). Through [email protected] and most major museums many sites have been made accessible to everyone.
Backpacking travelers will find accommodations in hostels that are located across the country.
In order to stay connected travelers can rent an Israeli SIM card or phone.
No immunizations are necessary for travel to Israel. Doctors and hospitals are widely available. The largest health risk is the very hot climate and staying hydrated to seriously recommended.
The Flag of Israel
During my brief visit with the Consul General he called my attention to the Israeli flag on the wall of his office. This flag was recovered from the World Trade Center after 9/11 and presented to Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006. It signifies resilience, anti-terrorism, and the bond between the US and Israel. Perez placed the flag in the Israeli Consulate office in New York.
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© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.