This is a follow up on a post I wrote a few days ago based on a Gush Shalom posting. It noted that Israeli deputy prime minister Avigdor Lieberman charged on Israeli TV that the Israeli peace group, Yesh Gvul, and a lawyer representing it in bringing war crimes charges against Israelis officers, were “kapos.”
As I wrote then, Lieberman is known for shooting his mouth off in such settings. And while this is odious stuff it’s far from the first time that he’s said such things. Hard to imagine how such a brutish thug can get to be a senior cabinet minister.
Adam Keller provided a link to the Google Video for the Hebrew interview which I’ve translated (roughly–leaving out some of the back and forth Crossfire-type flame-throwing between Lieberman and the interviewer, Geula Even) below:
Lieberman: I think anyone who examines this will find there is a small group, all of which it engages in is incitement, an attempt to incite all of the Israeli people against another group of people. This same group called Yesh Gvul, which brought a charge in London against a chief of staff, two chiefs of staff, Dan Halutz and ‘Boogie’ Yaalon…The very same Daniel Machover…who brought a charge against a general of the State of Israel, Doron Almog, in London. The same Machover who–when it became clear that they were flying Almog back to Israel–brought a legal complaint against the [Israeli] ambassador and the ambassadorial staff because they brought Almog back [to Israel].
We have a small group on the left looking for something over which to incite…the same group which announced a boycott against those artists celebrating Gush Etzion’s 40th anniversary…
There simply can’t be a situation in which people try to break the national consensus. Gush Etzion is an absolute consensus created and supported by governments of Mapai and Mapam who were not right-wing extremists…
It is time to uproot this group that attempts to incite the State of Israel at every chance. It’s time to compare this group to those kapos who served in the concentration camps.
Even: No, No.
L: From my perspective these people are no less than…
Even: You are comparing this lawyer in London to a kapo?
L: This Israeli who lodges a charge against an Israeli general is exactly the same as a kapo and nothing less.
Even: Will you regret this? This is incredible what you say.
L: This is entirely credible and no less and this is the way we should treat these people.
Even: In memory of the Holocaust, don’t you think…Do you think there is a place for such a comparison?
L: There IS a place for such a comparison. It is imperative to treat these people in precisely this way.
Some background is in order. Yesh Gvul and several Israel human rights lawyers (including Daniel Machover mentioned above) have lodged legal complaints in Israel and England against Israeli generals responsible for attacks against Palestinians which murdered civilians. Lieberman refers to an incident in which Gen. Doron Almog flew to England to attend a Jewish communal event only to be confronted with a legal charge against him by a Palestinian group (and supported by Yesh Gvul). The Israeli embassy arranged for Almog to be spirited out of the country and back to Israel in order to avoid arrest. To this day, Almog cannot return to England for fear of being charged.
Lieberman is angry because Gush Shalom announced a boycott of the Israeli musicians who performed at the concerts celebrating Gush Etzion’s 40th anniversary. The Jerusalem Post reports:
…Avigdor Lieberman caused a political storm on Tuesday when he declared the Left responsible for all the lives lost in the Arab-Israeli conflict and for everything wrong with the country.
Lieberman, speaking to Army Radio, was responding to calls by the left-wing group Gush Shalom to boycott musicians who performed at a Sunday event commemorating 40 years since the resettlement of Gush Etzion in the West Bank.
“All our troubles, all our problems, all our victims are because of those people,” Lieberman said, referring to the Left. “I have no complaints against the Arabs or against the world. My claims are aimed against those in the Israeli Left, who are trying to break us from within at any cost and to breach every consensus.”
Lieberman himself lives in Nokdim, part of Gush Etzion.
I liken Lieberman’s performances to Ann Coulter’s right-wing sturm und drang theater. It seems like Lieberman knows his audience wants red meat and he gives them the juiciest pieces he can think of using the foulest smears possible. This is what the extreme nationalist right wants to hear and he gives it to them in spades.
Gush Shalom, which created the Gush Etzion boycott and is included in the “kapo” comment, is considering whether to bring defamation charges against Lieberman since in Israel it is a crime to falsely charge someone with being a kapo or Nazi. They are trying to weigh whether suing him will not bring him greater notoriety and support among the wingnut right. I’ve encouraged them to sue him since I think such vile bullying hate must be confronted. Otherwise it only becomes worse when the right is emboldened. This is precisely what happened in the case of Rabin’s assassination when charges like this flew fast and furious against Rabin picturing him in a kapo uniform at right-wing demonstrations.
There is every chance there is another Yigal Amin [Correction: thanks Andy for correcting my mistake–it’s ‘Amir’ of course] listening to interviews like this one and believing they would be doing their country a favor by ridding it of these meddlesome lawyers and leftist traitors. So sitting back and taking it is not a stance I relish.
Zvi Solow, Ben Gurion University professor and Israeli peace activist, also adds an interesting perspective on Lieberman’s rantings:
Liberman is first and foremost a Russian-produced racist. He thinks that “Europeans” – meaning whites– are much more “cultured” (a Russian term) than others. For internal political reasons he doesn’t say what his opinion is of Ethiopian Olim.
His understanding of the ME conflict is that it is ethnic, not territorial. That is why he keeps looking for ways to “get rid of” Israel’s Palestinian citizens. He is not opposed to withdrawing from part of the Occupied Territories – his logic is one of a power balance and not of “holy God-given land”. So he suggested that in the framework of exchanging Israeli territory for some of the settlement blocks Israel transfers Vadi Ara & Um el Fahm, complete with its population.
Now he came out in favour of withdrawing from some of the Palestrinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, which made him a heretic in the eyes of the religious right. “Liberman will divide Jerusalem” heckled the Religious Right MK’s. The “kapo” statement was a calculated attempt to draw predictable fire from the left & center, in order to regain “respectability” with the “Arab” hating right.
Gershom Gorenberg’s Minister for National Fears provides a chilling account of the political “rise and rise” of Avigdor Lieberman and highlights his solutions for dealing with ethnic conflict between Jews and Arabs.
“There is every chance there is another Yigal Amin…”
At the risk of drawing attention to someone who really doesn’t deserve it, the correct spelling is actually Yigal Amir:
Richard Silverstein says
Indeed, & thanks for that correction. That’s what happens when you write blog posts after midnight. You’re brain floats somewhere in the ether.
miriam garfinkle says
Your brain has been floating for quite some time. You are an irreligious Jew ignorant of the meaning of Tikkun Olam. First of all, it is Tikkun HaOlam. Secondly, it does not mean repairing the world. It means safeguarding society. You maliciously oppose Israeli leaders such as Lieberman for seeking to safeguard Israeli society against your fictitious smears against Israel and her people. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. My suggestion? Make an online apology for maligning Israel since your retirement, study Jewish religion from the source texts, learn Hebrew, and live in Sderot for a year. Having done all this, you will no longer be the apostate Jew you currently are.
Richard Silverstein says
Miriam, you are an am ha-aretz. Look it up in your dictionary. You presume to correct my understanding of Hebrew & I have two degrees in Jewish studies including a masters in Hebrew literature. Really, Miriam. You’ve heard the term chutzpah? There is no difference in Hebrew between saying tikun olam & tikun ha-olam. They both mean the same thing. As for your spurious mistranslation–it does NOT mean safeguarding society. It means repairing or mending the world. Period.
As for being ashamed of oneself, you should be ashamed of attempting to pull the wool over our eyes & make us believe that you have a shred of knowledge of Hebrew, or Israeli politics. It’s you who need a Hebrew ulpan before you embarrass yrself even more than you have here.
miriam garfinkle says
Don’t pull your phoney intellectual shtick with me. I am a doctor of medicine and a Reform Rabbi with a masters degree in Talmudic studies.
Tikkun Ha-olam is a Mishnaic term originating in Masekhta Gittin. It means safeguarding society, nothing else.
Typical of irreligious Jews like yourself who hate Israel and its people, you fail to address my overwhelming critique of your persona – that is, you are making money out of slandering Israel to cater to your ego. All your slanders are pure propaganda, not one has a shred of truth, let alone a half- truth.
I have been highly successful in helping to dislodge the likes of Finkelstein and Pappe from their privileged perches in academe. So you can rest assured I will not hesitate to expose your brazen mendacity and topple you from your smart-alec pissing perch.
This may require me to file a law suit against you for disseminating hatred and aiding and abetting terrorist organizations outlawed by the US government unless you fess up and admit you are an unreconstructed disloyal Jew who is going to mend his ways.
Richard Silverstein says
Well, it seems you are not Miriam Garfinkle at all. Googling “your” name I discovered this:
It just so happens that the name and e mail address you provided when you published yr comment matches precisely that of a left-wing Canadian Jew who opposes Israeli policy in Gaza. So either you’re a fraud or have a split personality.
UPDATE: This person is not only impersonating the real Miriam Garfinkle, he’s been sending threatening e-mails for years to progressive Jews under various names, among them “His Eminence the Very Rev Charles Edgbaston, D.D., Ph.D.” The e-mails all originate from the very same IP address: 220.127.116.11. The amount of dissembling, dissimulation and sockpuppetry is starting to remind me of a Nabokov novel.
Instead of a rabbi I think you’ve just been given a furlough from a mental facility. Either that or you’re lying or the standards of the Reform movement have fallen considerably. Just so we can trust you, tell me where you did your studies & what yr. you obtained smicha.
The Alkalay dictionary translates tikun olam as “”putting the world aright,” reforming the universe.” Wikipedia translates it as “repairing the world” or “perfecting the world.” Tikun Olam originates in the Mishnah, but if you bothered to read my About page you’ll find that my use of the term derives from the Zohar. You have heard of it, haven’t you, Rabbi Garfinkle? And with your wide Judaic knowledge you’d be forced to concede that a phrase that might have one meaning in one historic era might have quite a diff. meaning in a later period. Or didn’t you learn this concept in rabbinical school?
I was so busy laughing about the “persona” of rabbi you’ve adopted I hadn’t time to notice the convincing job you’d done of eviscerating my persona–or was it my aura?
I am indeed. With all the millions that the Saudis are paying me, not to mention those under the table payments from Hamas, I’m earning in the mid-three figures here at this blog. At this rate, I”ll be a millionaire in a few light years time.
At first I was angry, but now I realize you’ve confused yrself with Alan Dershowitz. Or are you his amanuensis? Have you been taking yr meds?
No, I’m house-trained. I know how to go in the toilet. I don’t bother with a pissing perch anymore.
But do topple me. I love the smell of napalm in the morning from the likes of you. It’s quite entertaining really. But next time you publish a comment here I’d like you to produce a note from your psychiatrist saying it’s all right for you to do so. I wouldn’t want to disturb that thin veil of sanity to which you cling.
If you need my personal address in order to serve me with the suit, I’ll be happy to provide it. Or better yet, I’ll provide your lawyer with my lawyer’s name and contact info so we can get the ball rolling. Best of all, I’ll provide you with the names and e mail addresses of every other pro-Israel extremist who’s threatened me with a lawsuit & perhaps you can pool your resources and sue me en masse. I hope you do. It will do more to promote my views than 100 blogs posts here.