Israeli Consul General makes a scene and statement at gala

In the middle of a speech from the president of an Israeli institution, Israel’s Consul General in New York, Dani Dayan, rose from his front row seat and, along with his entourage, noticeably stormed out of a gala. The event, in support of Friends of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, took place at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City on Wednesday evening.

The incident — described by several in attendance— occurred when Adi Stern, president of the Bezalel Academy, warned that freedom of expression in the U.S., as in Israel, is under attack.

“That’s not true,” shouted Dayan, interrupting Stern’s speech. When Stern resumed his prepared remarks noting that Bezalel will be at the forefront of the battle for democracy, the Consul General got up and “stormed out” of the hall with his security detail, according to those accounts, and also later confirmed by Dayan.

Dayan told JI that he found it upsetting that Stern was “slandering” Israeli society in order to raise money in New York.

Guests related that attendees and the leadership of Bezalel were puzzled by Dayan’s reaction. One attendee labeled it “uncharacteristic and completely not warranted,” while another called it “just weird.”

Asked to respond to those who felt it was an overreaction and not diplomatic to stage a walk out at the event, Dayan replied, “My presence there could have been interpreted as corroborating his outrageous claims.”

During a speech earlier in the evening, Dayan had praised Bezalel and joked how he normally confers the blessing of ‘until 120 years’ but since the institution is already 113-years-old, he instead wishes it “many more centuries.”

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