Going with Lieberman

Posted: June 9, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Israel, Israeli Palestinians, Palestinians

Avigdor Lieberman, loved by some, hated by many.

“I am ready to take the plane to Damascus this instant – but with no obligations to return to 1967 borders. What kind of way is this to negotiate?”

I believe these words, pronounced today by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at one of Parliamentary commissions, reflect views of most Israelis regarding negotiations with Syria. Bashar al-Assad demands Israel to officially declare it will move its borders back to the 1967 armistice line, before negotiations even start (just wondering: as return of Golan is Syria’s goal, would there be anything else to negotiate about?). Assad knows how to play his role: he sets demands he knows Israel would not agree to. Why? Because if Israel caves in to his demands, Bashar already gets everything he ever wanted in his wettest dreams. But back to the subject.

What strikes people more, I believe, is that he can be blunt. Unlike most politicians, usually weaseling their way out straightforward answers, Lieberman usually says what he thinks, and why he thinks that.

That is not to say he is consistent; even he changes his tunes, and is forced to play by the rules. For example, bill, proposed by his party, was sent down the drain. And while he threatened Iran with all but eternal hell and damnation, after the elections he softened his tone, now saying there is no way in bloody hell Israel would attack (at least – not alone).

Still, what caught everyone’s attention with Lieberman is his personality. He is being perceived as a radical (and probably rightly so); yet he claims he has the welfare of his country in mind. While many blamed him for being racist, following his proposed bill, which would cancel citizenship of everyone not pledging allegiance to the Jewish state – that is, he would effectively force Israeli Palestinian to pledge themselves to the country of the Jews, something close to none of them would do. However, his views – including this bill – do not stem from racism. It is my strong belief that Avigdor Lieberman and his party proposed the bill in order to cease non-stop incitement among Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin against the state they live in, and in which they receive much better health care and social benefits than in any Arab country, save for few small, oil-rich ones.

Lieberman ran on a promise that he would find non-loyal Arab populations within Israel, that to this day mourn the fact that they didn’t get to kill the Jews in 1948. And the sentiment caught on with many. Because he was blunt and he was – or seemed – to be honest.

And unless the Palestinians – both Israeli and non-citizens – will begin to change their ways of incitement and fight against Israel, Lieberman (and others like him) are not going anywhere.


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