Lieberman represents Israel

In recent months, Israel’s political leaders and Israel’s stateside supporters have been railing against the so-called delegitimization movement. It’s debatable whether such a movement exists but even to the extent that it does, the effect it has had in tarnishing Israel’s image is minuscule in comparison to Israel’s own unintentional delegitimization efforts.

The latest examples came this month in a new campaign to guard Jewish racial purity. A letter signed by the wives and daughters of prominent rabbis, urges Jewish women not to date or even work with Arab men. It was preceded by a letter signed by hundreds of rabbis calling on Jews not to rent apartments to Arabs. The letters are part of a “racist tidal wave” sweeping across Israel, says defense minister, Ehud Barak.

In this context, the American Jewish diaspora is becoming acutely uncomfortable. The more transparent Israeli racism becomes, the harder it is for Americans — Jewish or non-Jewish — to support Israel; the more obvious it is that Israel’s Jewish identity is being defended at the expense of its democratic identity.

Strange then, that the editors of the liberal The Forward, seem to imagine that getting rid of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister would significantly help Israel.

In an editorial, the paper says:

Lieberman’s tenure in such a prominent position has been dismissed as an embarrassing annoyance by most Diaspora leaders, a necessary burden to ensure that his Yisrael Beiteinu party remains in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Besides, the inner workings of Netanyahu’s government are arguably not our right to influence, no more than Israelis should have a say in who is U.S. Attorney General or mayor of New York.

But if Netanyahu persists in keeping Lieberman, both men should know this: The obligation we assume as Diaspora Jews to support Israel and combat delegitimization becomes much harder, more distasteful and less effective every time the foreign minister opens his mouth. It betrays our Judaic and civic values to stand by while such a man advocates for the transfer of Arab citizens of Israel, for a discriminatory loyalty oath, for an endless postponement of peace negotiations that are the only — the only — way to ensure that Israel remains Jewish and democratic.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an editorial December 28 excoriating the foreign minister, arguing that “Lieberman and his pronouncements only provide vindication to Israel’s adversaries.” For that reason, the paper declared, he must go.

And if Lieberman goes, Israel will change?

No doubt its liberal supporters would welcome a more respectable face such as could be provided by a Likud-Kadima coalition (which isn’t in the offing), but Lieberman is no different from Rabbi Meir Kahane who said, in reference to Israel’s Arab-hating population: “I say what they think.”

As more and more Israelis openly declare their unwillingness to live alongside Arabs, what appears to be changing is not that Israel is becoming more racist but that its underlying racism is being expressed more freely.

Kahane said: “I want Democracy for Jews but I don’t want Democracy for Arabs because otherwise there won’t be a Jewish State!” He was dubbed an extremist and an aberration, but the veil is now being lifted.

Who can be so naive as to imagine that an Israel without Lieberman as its foreign minister would become a more tolerant, democratic society? Or are these calls for his departure nothing more than an appeal for cosmetic changes necessary for making the indefensible, defensible?

Kahane had it right: Israel is a “democracy” for Jews, which is to say that it grants rights to Jews that it withholds from others, and as that unpalatable truth becomes increasingly evident to the whole world, the liberal Jewish diaspora will need to abandon the illusion that Israel can be a Jewish and democratic state. It can only be one or the other.

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8 thoughts on “Lieberman represents Israel

  1. delia ruhe

    Maybe Lieberman should just toss out his dog-eared copy of *Mein Kampf*, from whence appears to come his notions of the “racial health” of the nation. As for the “deligitimization movement,” it’s real. Israel got it started over 40 years ago, and anyone with even a mild sense of justice questions the legitimacy of any state that practices apartheid.

  2. Paul Woodward

    When I question the reality of the delegitimization movement, I’m merely alluding to the fact that those who oppose the movement are claiming that it is an effort to wrongly take away legitimacy that Israel rightfully possesses — in other words, that the movement is made up of those intent on unjustly attacking Israel. Such a movement doesn’t exist.

  3. Christopher Hoare

    “It betrays our Judaic and civic values to stand by while such a man advocates for the transfer of Arab citizens of Israel, for a discriminatory loyalty oath, for an endless postponement of peace negotiations …”

    I’d like to know how the editors of The Forward can claim that the brutalizing of the inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank, the ongoing theft of the peoples’ lands, the settlers only road apartheid, the wall, and the harrassing checkpoints don’t betray their Judaic and civic values. It’s perfectly okay to steal a peoples’ land from under them if one can claim to do it democratically? Oh, but it’s only the actions carried out by Israel within the borders of the Jewish state that matter to them, not those carried out outside the Jewish state by those same forces?

    The difference is in the religious and the racist purpose of the state, perhaps. That sounds like racism to me. Israel never has been legitimate.

  4. pabelmont

    Israel as a nation is crying for help. People committing suicide often do. And not necessarily consciously. As the madness goes out of control, it expresses itself in a wide variety of ways, but careful awareness of the way the madness appears to others (and/or any concern for appearances) is not among the symptoms. Megalomania?

    But, that said, what would constitute help? perhaps a UNSC resolution saying, “Israel we love ya, we respect your right to security within your own borders, but we do not support your madness or your illegalities, not any longer anyhow. STOP IT. WE MEAN IT. IF YOU DO NOT STOP, WE WILL PUNISH YOU, SAD AS IT WILL MAKE US TO DO SO. Tough love.

  5. delia ruhe

    Yes, of course, Paul, I know what you meant, but I also think that the justification for questioning Israel’s legitimacy isn’t getting any press at all, not in the MSM or online. Simply dismissing it as an Israeli delusion or propaganda is a bit like Obama dismissing accusations that he’s a Muslim without saying that there would be nothing wrong if he were. Israel is winning this “delegitimization” war, and when the word is completely emptied of meaning, as “antisemitism” has been, then some Israeli think tank will come up with another.

    I think that Lieberman brings out the worst in Israelis, just as Bush did with Americans, Harper is doing with Canadians–and Hitler did with Germans. This depresses me, as nations (as distinct from states) should be adult enough to know that we’re all capable of the very worst that humanity has to offer, which is why we should know enough not to sign on to this destructive type of leader. I would not be at all surprised if Lieberman were the next Israeli PM, god help us all.

  6. Buratinosaur

    Israel and those who brought it into existence can do NOTHING AT ALL without The Internet, Hollywood, and all the media they control in the world. If any one ever dreams of ending the beginning of the end that Israel brings to the world, then the place to start is those mentioned above; crash them, stop them and all will be allright.

  7. JahYouth

    On the subject of the USA being Israel’s puppy dog, please watch Joe Biden speaking on youtube on his totally, racially , ethnically oriented , sleazy, heavy breathing, man loving , man hugging, hand holding , eye rolling and flirty Zionist lurrrvvvveeee ! How much closer is he going to get to that wretched Israeli sleaze bag interviewer without grabbing him and kissing him?

    Here’s more; the full 2.30 interview —

  8. Renfro

    “in other words, that the movement is made up of those intent on unjustly attacking Israel. Such a movement doesn’t exist.”

    I agree it doesn’t exist, it’ s just another dodge,whine, red herring …something to distract from the actual issues of getting the zionist out of Palestine.

    Perfect example of why I say it is pointless to even try to talk to the zionist….the world says potatoe they say tomatoe…the world says occupation they say delegitimization.
    It’s their game, everyone knows it, everyone sees it……the only people this childish idiot game works on is susceptible Jews.

    It doesn’t matter if Israel is legitimate or not, a democracy or not, all that is beside the point..a side bar, a diversion. The only thing that matters concerning Israel is when they will have exhausted the world’s tolerance of them…but they too drugged up on ziocaine to get it.

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