What Did You do for the State, Mr. Danon?

The Book Of Yogurt

In de beginnigg God cratid de heen ‘n the, uh, eard.—Genesis 1:1 as rendered by the Moron Dialectizer


by Roy Tov


Yogurt is never used as a symbol of intellectual excellency; it lacks the necessary consistency. Neither it is used as a symbol of political integrity; it tends to flow through the logical holes created by politician’s lies. If anything, it is the epitome of milky-kosher foods, the peak of soft irrelevance. Thus, it is surprising that two leading Israeli politicians proudly move around their giggling voters with names belonging to yogurt brands.

Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich* was honored many years ago with Yogurt Shelly, a popular dietetic brand. One cannot blame her for that; yet, one cannot avoid making the link with the yogurt every time she is mentioned. The second politician is Danny Danon, current Deputy Minister of Defense. Danone, founded by a Jew, was the company that introduced commercial yogurt to Israel in 1969, through an agreement with local Strauss. “Danon, Danone, sam, same,” a Hebrew speaker would say. Leaky logic.

Danny Danon, on the left Danone Evian
Right of Netanyhau
The first time Mr. Danon gained prominence was when he attempted to become the leader of Likud in the 2007 elections. He ended last, with just 3.5% of the vote, behind Netanyahu and Moshe Feiglin. His slogan was remarkable: “Danny Danon on your right, Bibi!” It hinted at the truth since the Hebrew can be understood also as a statement of support to Netanyahu. Benjamin Netanyahu was a despot attempting to hide this undemocratic fact; Feiglin and Dannon made him a favor. However, it was correct in other aspect: Danon belongs to the Likud’s extreme right.

In the 2012 primaries ahead of the general elections, Mr. Dannon ended fifth in the Likud list; this was enough to give him the post of Deputy Minister of Defense. Not bad for someone who was just a junior officer in the “Youth Battalions,” an Israeli military program to prepare youth for their IDF military service. Yogurt-milky.

One Million Words on Danon

It would be difficult to fit one million words about Danon in a single article. Yet, the picture above is worth one million and one words. It shows Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon, in a Knesset hearing on the issue of African migrants in Israel, in June 2012.

Danon chairs a group called Deportation Now and advocates their immediate expulsion. The issue is a hot one in Israel, having led to systemic attacks against African, including violent attacks. In the African Workers section, I reviewed many of these events, including the attack of an African kindergarten with a Molotov bottle by Israeli-Jews.

June 12, 2012. Then Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon, in a Knesset hearing on the issue of African migrants in Israel, sits beside the Consul General of the Ivory Coast. Danon chairs a group called Deportation Now, and advocates their immediate expulsion. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90/JTA)

In the picture, Danon is sitting next to the Consul General of the Ivory Coast. The face of the latter says all what is needed to say about Danon’s bigotry. Another regular target of his violence is Member of the Knesset Hanin Zuabi.

Less than a Million Words on Hanin Zuabi
Haneen Zoabi was born in Nazareth to a Muslim family and serves as a Member of the Knesset for the Balad Party since 2009. A Palestinian-Israeli (a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, Jews refer to them as Israeli-Arabs), she is the target of criticism and sanctions by the Jewish establishment, especially since she was aboard the Mavi Marmara during the IDF brutal attack on Gaza’s Freedom Flotilla.

On July 18, 2011, she was stripped of her right to address the Knesset and to participate in committee votes until the end of that parliamentary season, by the Knesset Ethics Committee. Zuabi countered by petitioning the Israeli High Court of Justice, accusing the Knesset of overstepping its authority: “the aim of stripping the rights was to limit MKs’ political activities, especially those of minority representatives,” she explained. As often happens, the Israeli High Court became a yes-man of the Israeli government and legislative atrocities. This is the court that regularly annuls inter-religious marriages of Israeli citizens. It is an unreliable source of Justice.

The reason for their violence against her is not due to her love for sailing, but because she rejects the idea of Israel as a Jewish State. At the 2009 Knesset swearing-in ceremony, she refused to sing the anthem, similarly to Justice Salim Joubran. In the eyes of Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Danon, she is an enemy of the State.

Youth Battalions Officer Danon Saves the State

Deputy Minister of Defense Danon is highly active in the ongoing legislation process of a new Conscription Law. A few days ago, the Israeli Government decided to enforce the conscription of Ultra-Orthodox Jews. This is not good enough for Danon, who wants to enforce conscription also on Palestinians with “blue-ID cards” (euphemism for Israeli citizenship). As part of his campaign to amend the law before it is approved by the Knesset (apparently in August), he launched a public campaign that reached headlines on June 3, 2013.

The campaign’s name is: “Hanin Zuabi, What Have You Done for the State?” He said to Settler Channel 7: “The Peri Committee imposed criminal sanctions on Ultra-Orthodox Jews, what about the Arabs? It is impossible to accept that an entire segment of the population, who has blue ID-cards, that can vote to the Knesset and that can be elected to the Knesset won’t contribute to the State.” The latter is one of the favorite accusations against Zuabi by Jewish Members of the Knesset from Rightist parties.

Of course, Mr. Danon failed to clarify if his amendment will fix the discrimination against Palestinians citizens of Israel. Covering the topic is beyond the scope of this article, but this is evident on the most basic level. Palestinian Israelis are denied the right to communicate in their own language (Central Bureau of Statistics: 27% of Israelis have difficulties in Hebrew). Arabic is a formal language in Israel; more than 20% of the State’s population consider it their main language. Yet, you can’t access an organization belonging to the State and expect to speak Arabic there.

A surprising datum published by the Central Bureau of Statistics in January 2013 was that 32% of the Palestinians claim to speak Hebrew with their friends. Their data-mining ends with an intriguing finding; 27% of the Israelis aged 20 and above claim to have difficulties filling forms in Hebrew. In the segment of “65 and above” this rate grows to 53%. This is due mainly to Palestinians, 45% of whom (average of all age groups) experience difficulties and by Russians, 58% of whom are unable to fill out Hebrew forms. Only 14% of the native speakers experience such difficulties. In part, these amazing rates are caused by the poor language used by the authorities themselves. Many times their texts are open to diverging interpretations. They shouldn’t study Hebrew with their official texts.

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In other words, Israel discriminates against Palestinians also by denying them access to the most basic rights. If one is denied proper communications with State and society, one is automatically discriminated against everywhere and all the time. No chance of finding a proper job; no chance of enjoying the same services as the Hebrew-speaking segment of the population.

Here is where Danon identifies himself as an ultra-nationalist blind to the goal of states. These entities were not designed to provide a good life to self-serving civil servant but to create a proper environmet to the entire population. MK Zuabi didn’t choose to become a citizen of Israel; this questionable honor was imposed on her. She wasn’t asked. Yet, from that moment, she doesn’t need to justify her right to receive the rights given to Israeli citizens. Citizenship is not conditioned. Any other claim is not only racist but also a double edged-sword.

After all, Mr Danon, you were just a jobnik, you were a Youth Battalion officer that did very little, truly very little, for the State. At the Gadna offices you just met highschool student before recruitment and practiced with them your political speeches (rumors claim that you did more than that, but these rumors are not related to your military capabilities thus I won’t mention them). Honorable Danon, your service was yogurti, truly insubstantial.

Your qualifications to be Deputy Minister of Defense are questionable, to put is softly. I want to propose an amendment to your law: former Youth Battalion officers are not good enough to be elected as Members of the Knesset or Government positions. After all, what did you do for the State, Mr. Danon?

Following the split enforced by Ehud Barak in 2011, Shelly Yachimovich was elected Labor leader. Shelly (“mine” in Hebrew) is a well known figure in Israeli media. She began her career as a journalist of Al HaMishmar (“On Guard” in Hebrew), an extreme left newspaper related to HaShomer Hatzair (“The Young Guard,” a youth movement) and Mapam (a worker¡s party). She went on to become an anchor for the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s radio station Reshet Bet (state-owned) and afterwards moved to the Army Radio (state owned) and Channel 2 TV. She led a campaign in favor of Superpharm (a pharmacy franchise) workers, eventually winning them the right to sit during their long shifts. This event catapulted her into the Knesset, as a member of Labor. Her career couldn’t have flourished in such a way without serious links with the Israeli security services. HaShomer Hatzair, Mapam, and Al HaMishmar were all major strongholds of the Zionist ethos. Hints of these links to the security services hide beyond her formal CV. During her extraordinarily popular morning program at Reshet Beth, she disclosed in the mid nineties that Wing 2 – an air force base near Moshav Zecharia – is the place from where Israel will launch Jericho nuclear missiles. This scoop was odd. Every person aware of this base knew before her scoop that it also serves as the alternate General Headquarters of the IDF. Yet, she said nothing about that. It seems she just disclosed the information the Shin Beth wanted to disseminate and nothing more.In one of the strangest speeches of the recent elections to the Knesset, she said: “Labor is not left….Yitzhak Rabin was not left… I am not left.” Sure, you are yogurt-white.


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Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards. In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.