A Farewell for Jacob Dayan

Jacob Dayan’s term as Israel Consul General of Los Angeles ends this summer—he has served away from Israel for five years, the maximum amount of time a diplomat can remain out of his country, and since late 2007 in Los Angeles—and on Friday, May 27, Los Angeles city marked his departure with a farewell celebration at City Hall.

“I’m coming here [today] knowing that the future of the state of Israel is better and stronger because there are people like you here in Los Angeles standing with the State of Israel,” Dayan, known as “Yaki” in the Jewish community, said on Friday.

“I’ve been transformed,” Dayan said, reflecting on his time in Los Angeles.

Dayan was joined at the celebration by his wife, Galit, his son, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles City Council members Paul Koretz, Dennis Zine and Eric Garcetti at a podium in the center of the council chambers.

Council members praised Dayan’s representation of Israel and his service to the city of Los Angeles—saying that he helped build bridges between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities here—and thanked him for helping nurture the United States-Israel alliance locally.

“We want to thank you for being part of our community,” Councilman Richard Alarcon said. Council members Jan Perry, Tom LaBonge, Janice Hahn, Paul Krekorian, Bernard Parks, Jose Huizar and Richard Alarcon also attended

What’s next for Dayan? He didn’t rule out the possibility that he will run for prime minister position in Israel—following Koretz’s statement, made during the celebration, that “When peace finally comes to the Middle East, you’ll be prime minister.”

“Who knows, maybe one day,” Dayan said during an interview afterwards.

Dayan said he will “continue working in the state of Israel. I haven’t decided in what capacity and how exactly, but my passion is the State of Israel, and my love is the State of Israel…So anywhere you are going to see me, the State of Israel is going to be a part of it.”

The office of the Los Angeles City Council organized the celebration, and it took place in the city council chambers and rotunda room in City Hall, lasting approximately two hours—from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Both Dayan and Villaraigosa said that putting up the Israeli flag outside the consul general’s office on Wilshire Boulevard in 2008 is one of their greatest accomplishments, as the Israeli flag isn’t flown outside any other Israeli consulates in the United States.

“It was a proud moment for us—it was a proud moment for all of us,” Villaraigosa said.

During Dayan’s tenure, the consulate partnered with the mayor and city council on events and initiatives focused on increasing Los Angeles support for Israel and facilitating Jewish outreach to the broader Los Angeles community. Initiatives include the pairing of Jewish day schools, including Sinai Akiba, Stephen S. Wise Temple and Temple Emanuel, with low-performing schools in Los Angeles for cross-cultural programming in 2010; and in 2009, Dayan helped organize Fiesta Shalom, which brought together Jewish and Latino communities in Boyle Heights

Toward the close of Friday’s celebration, city council officials and the mayor presented Dayan, who was smiling throughout the event, with a Los Angeles flag and a certification of appreciation on behalf of the city.

Asked during an interview what he would miss most about Los Angeles, Dayan responded, “the people. I met amazing, wonderful people—very kind, very smart and great supporters of Israel.”