Disraeli once said memorably: “there are lies, damn lies and statistics.” But he didn’t know Avigdor Lieberman. If so, he might’ve substituted the latter’s name for “statistics.”
Avigdor Lieberman’s op-ed in Jewish Week is a tissue of lies. There’s no other way to say it. It’s shameful that the N.Y. newspaper has offered him a forum, but even more shameful that it did no fact-checking or editing to ensure that he wasn’t simply spouting fabrications and lies. Even the fact that David Harris “comments” on Lieberman’s column is simply not enough as Harris pulls far too many punches in his rather lightweight reply.
Let’s start from the beginning:
During Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, I was appalled by the calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and for renewed suicide bombings that some Israeli Arab leaders called for at pro-Hamas rallies.
Now that would be interesting. Following the Israeli media as I do, I’d have thought I’d come across such provocative statements covered somewhere in news stories during the war. Even the N.Y. Times profiled the disquiet of Israel’s Arab community and never mentioned such a position. I heard about no such statements and I’d challenge Lieberman’s supporters to document any rhetoric that even comes close to this.
Here is as close as Lieberman comes to proof of his claim:
At a pre-election panel, the Israeli Arab political party Balad’s representative, Awad Abed Al-Patah, declared, “The elections are one of the means at our disposal for battling Zionism within its home.”
I don’t read that statement as calling for the destruction of Israel. I read it as a critique against Zionism as defined by people like Lieberman and other extremist settlers who claim that Zionism means the settlement of every inch of “historical” greater Israel; who claim it means the expulsion of Israeli citizens who happen not to be Jewish; who claim it means the superiority of the Jewish religion.
Truly, what Lieberman is doing here is denying Arabs the right to put forward their own competing political vision of what the State of Israel should be. A competing vision is NOT the same as destroying the state. Only pro-Jewish racialists like Lieberman would feel threatened by a competing Israeli ethnic group putting forward an alternate perspective.
Actually, considering how provoked Israeli Arabs must’ve been by the Gaza war it’s remarkable they were as calm and relatively quiescent as they were. Polls also show Arabs to be overwhelmingly loyal and committed to the State of Israel.
In the following passage, Lieberman proceeds from the lame to the ludicrous:
In my adoption of an unapologetic stance on the duties of citizenship, I had strong role models from around the world. For example, Britain’s Home Office has recently drawn up new laws making responsible citizenship a requirement for those wishing to become UK nationals. Candidates will receive a probation period in which they must prove that they can contribute to the community. In the U.S., those requesting a Green Card must take an oath that they will fulfill the rights and duties of citizenship.
What do you notice about this passage? He’s talking about individuals who are NOT CITIZENS of these countries and the latters’ legitimate conditions for them to become so. Israeli Arabs ARE ALREADY citizens. There are no democratic nations I know of which demand loyalty oaths of current citizens. So, welcome to the club, Libby. The club of ex-democracies if Israel adopts your policies.
To continue with Lieberman’s extraordinary claims:
I stand at the head of the most diverse political party in the Knesset.
Among Lieberman’s inflated claims about his Knesset list, it should be noted that it lacks an Israeli Christian or Muslim, not to mention anyone who endorses a real two state solution. So how diverse can it be? But one aspect of its “diversity” we should embrace is the fact that several of his faction members including himself are under investigation for corruption. But then again, so many Israeli politicians are under such investigations that perhaps that doesn’t really signify diversity at all.
Lieberman is nothing if not a chutzpan:
Yisrael Beiteinu has no objection to the nonviolent expression of opinion. It is violent speech that forms a clear and present danger that we refuse to tolerate.
Apparently, what he really objects to is ARAB violent speech because if he objected to Jewish violent speech he’d have to outlaw himself. After all, it is Lieberman who called for “stringing up” Arab Knesset members from lampposts.
Don’t forget that Lieberman supports a two state solution:
I also advocate the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
Certainly he does…shorn of all Israeli settlements and including hundreds of thousands of current Israeli citizens who would be expelled to the new “viable” Palestinian state. Fits my definition of democracy.
Avigdor really does love his Israeli “darkies:”
If those who strive to topple the state with terror and violence would instead focus on improving daily life, education, infrastructure, and health care, we could all move on to better lives for everyone.
What he means is that if Arabs would just give up on their quest for full, equal rights in Israel then Israeli Jews could get on with their quest for better lives for their fellow Jews. The Israeli dream Lieberman speaks of has never included Israeli Arabs who are severely discriminated against; and no amount of bulls(^t from Lieberman can conceal that his supposed vision would exclude them.
Keep in mind that according to Akiva Eldar, Lieberman belonged to Kahane Chai when he first made aliya, which is now a banned terrorist organization. Do you think the leopard changes his spots?
This is truly rich:
As part of the next government, I look forward to working with President Obama. I know that U.S.-Israel relations are as strong as ever, and that our shared values and interests make our friendship unshakeable.
Whoa, Avigdor. You’ve not even been invited to join the government and you’re already describing yourself as part of it? As for “shared values,” of what can he be speaking? Our shared values in diminishing the rights of our ethnic minorities? Our shared values in criminalizing political speech? Our shared values in inciting violence against those whose politics we disdain? Our shared values in declaring the religion of one group superior to that of another? Are those our shared values?
And lest anyone claim Lieberman is merely an outlier crackpot, keep in mind that Tzipi Livni said during the recent election campaign that the true home for Israeli Arabs was not Israel, but Palestine. This is nothing but Lieberman’s platform warmed over.
I beseech the American Jewish community–do not be fooled by these sugar-coated lies. They are poison and if you consum them you will be infected with Lieberman’s racist poison too. Beware any charlatan who claims there are easy answers to Israel’s internal ethnic conflict. The easy answers always come at the expense of one group or another: in this case, the Arabs.