L ast month, Dani Dayan marked one year as Israel’s consul general in New York. In that time, the former director general of the Yesha Council has found himself in the thick of the battles that have defined the Jewish world, none more important than BDS, where Dayan has tried to persuade boycott-supporting Jews that Israel is not to blame for the conflict with the Palestinians. At the same time, Dayan is trying to make peace among the various streams of Judaism — no easy task. Dayan spoke with Mishpacha after he returned from a visit to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he met with leaders of the local Orthodox and liberal communities about the Kosel framework

What kind of progress did you make?

I met in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the representatives of the Orthodox stream, and then separately with the representatives of the liberal streams, so that there wouldn’t be a conflict during the meeting about the dispute over the Kosel. Each side presented their known positions; there are no surprises here about how each side feels. I have to praise the Orthodox, who stated things in a very respectful way. They said that we are all brothers and we have to make sure not to cut off ties with one another. The tune I heard from the chareidi leadership in Cincinnati was more pleasant than what we hear in Israel. Perhaps it’s because in the United States various streams live in the same community and know one another. When I was in the Yesha Council, people would talk about settlers without knowing them. The same is true with the liberal streams: in Israel they often speak about them without knowing them.

And what is your position?

I represent the government of Israel, not myself. When the government decided to adopt the Kosel framework, I supported it, and when it decided to freeze it, I supported the freeze as well. But when I speak with Jerusalem, I do convey to them the messages that I hear in the field.

Does that mean that you think that all streams need to have access to the Kosel?

I believe that for the sake of the unity of the Jewish nation, each Jew needs to have access to the Kosel to pray in accordance with his or her own practice.

Do you have think that the liberal streams feel that the government of Israel has abandoned them?

These are things I definitely heard in conversations, that the decision to freeze the framework was the last straw. I told them that I’m not ready to hear that. In relations between Israel and world Jewry there is no such thing as “the last straw.” We are one body, like the left hand and the right. Even when there are disputes, you don’t just break apart. There is no doubt we are in a crisis. When there is a crisis in a family, the most important thing is to try improve relations. We don’t have the privilege of cutting each other off. (Excerpted from The Current, Issue 676)