Let's admit it: The man who has had the most influence on Israel in the last year is Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. It's not the prime minister, who has yet to decide on the direction in which he wants to lead the country; nor is it the defense minister, who sometimes speaks out with confidence and then acts slightly differently; and it is definitely not the ministers, who may havebeen dealing with matters pertaining to their offices, but haven’t done much for their country.
None of the previous foreign ministers have left such a mark on foreign policy and internal affairs, as the current foreign minister. Lieberman, who was elected thanks to a policy of intimidation, hate and segregation, has succeeded in turning Israel into a threatened country that hates minorities and minority opinions, and is isolated from the world.
Lieberman did not promise hope and, accordingly, there is none in sight. He said that peace was not practical and, indeed, that is how it looks. He spoke of the disadvantages of democracy, which is slowly but surely disappearing. On his first day in the Foreign Ministry he quoted the saying attributed to the Roman author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, who wrote in the book De Re Militari, "Let him who desires peace prepare for war."
The world is still wondering if Israel wants peace, but there is no doubt that it is preparing for war.
With the help of officials in the Foreign Ministry, Lieberman has managed to spread his message around the world, from Argentina to Japan, and more specifically, from Belarus to Vienna. He prefers, rightfully so, to stay clear of Washington and Paris, and regarding Turkey, Jordan and Egypt there is not much to say. Foreign affairs are collapsing, and no one is uttering a word. Those who do, do it in protests against the world; who here would protest on behalf of diplomatic relations with other countries?
Lieberman is not involved in the peace process on the grounds that they are a "conflict of interest," due to the fact that he lives in a settlement. This is just another one of the issues he has infected many Israelis with, as many people have since bought into the idea that there is a conflict of interest between them and the peace process. He has conveniently forgotten his policies, which spoke of dividing Israel and Jerusalem, withdrawing from most of the West Bank territories and from land west of the Green line, and no one has bothered to remind him.
His greatest accomplishment is instilling aggressiveness – the use of power as a first language – into Israeli society. And this is coming from a man who was charged in court with threatening and assaulting a minor, a small boy from the settlements.
That is who he is, and now Israel is the same. The aggressiveness has filtered into every aspect of social, political, national and military behavior, to the point that no one is surprised anymore when Israel threatens and attacks. Along these lines, Lieberman dictates intolerant rules, and the members of his party continue to spread his force, either physically by storming the Knesset podium or by proposing brutal laws. Those who have not been infected with his aggression are too weak to confront him.
Perhaps the police investigation against him will lead to an indictment, and perhaps Lieberman will be forced out of the political arena. For now, his face has become the nation's face, and everyone will have to decide for themselves whether this is an ugly or an attractive face.
The world sees Lieberman in us, and when Israel looks in the mirror it sees Lieberman. Perhaps Israel is losing, but Lieberman's victory is so great thus far that even if he does eventually disappear from the public stage, the Liebermans will remain.
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