lieberman - Emil Salman - December 14 2010
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo by Emil Salman
Text size

It was a stormy weekend for the coalition partners, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, as they fought over the army's role in conversions. Both are tugging at a khaki prayer-shawl.

Despite their differences, the two parties also share some traits: Each one has its own grand rabbi who cannot be disobeyed, and who has disciples who grovel at his feet. Their responses to criticism are also very similar: They immediately deflect the arrows from themselves to their constituents. Not only is Eli Yishai attacked, but his whole community, all skullcap-wearing Sephardi Jews. And it is not Lieberman alone who is under attack, but all immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Up until this weekend, it seemed that Lieberman was just an insulter. Suddenly it turns out he's also joined the ranks of the insulted. Suddenly his character is revealed in all its pitiful vulnerability.In "the interview of a lifetime" as he himself described it, published in the weekend supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth, he gushes: "No one protected me or my faction. No one called this incitement." Added the biggest agitator of them all: "No one condemned the character assassination done to the immigrants from the former Soviet Union."

This is Lieberman as we have yet to know him, a delicate crocodile who only wanted to have an ideological discussion and was dragged against his will into a whirlpool of personal slander. Now the sensitive gentleman feels like a victim.

Lieberman, if it's still not clear, is acting out of altruistic motives, "in complete contrast with personal interests." A close friend, he says, warned him ahead of the decisive hearing on his future against the "gang of lawyers" that "collection of leftists."

But Lieberman is not one to fear. Nothing but the truth is his guide, come what may. "I told my friend, 'Thank you,' I understand you, but I know myself. I am aware of the price I may pay. I am aware of the possibility that they will take revenge on me, because of my political positions, because the left has connections in the state attorney's office, but that is my choice."

Lieberman strikes first. He makes clear to the lawyers in advance what his line of defense will be, which happens to be his line of attack on them. Now he's afraid, that's completely clear, even a bit hysterical, and hysterics is a bad adviser: Did he disclose his plans too early and too transparently?

It doesn't exactly go with the sophistication and coolness the media have long attributed to him.

If he isn't indicted, he get what he wanted. Once again, the Lieberman-Aswan-Tehran deterrence capability, which makes our enemies quake, will have been proven. The leftist moles in the state prosecutor's office understood in advance what to expect from the exterminator: They read, absorbed and decided not to get involved.

But if he is indicted anyway, the world should know for what and why. Not for his shady business dealings, not for concealed bank accounts, not for the hidden millions held by him and his daughter. Not because of bribes but because of leftists, because of his war against the "feinschmekers." He is paying the price for his honesty and daring.

Do not weep for the innocent that depart, as they always return after they have paid their debt to society. Tzipi Livni - not just Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu - must be careful with her Liebermania, lest her party become a haven for actual and potential criminals, past, present and future. Was it not Kadima that promised us "different politics," which now appear as far beyond the horizon as a Greek island?

This is the method: You stop being the investigated and start being the investigator. That's the reason Lieberman is setting up his parliamentary investigative committee, and he's certain that all the human rights organizations will appear before it - "they'll appear, and how," as he promised in the interview.

Well, I have news for him. No one will appear before the Eretz Nehederet court, if only to clarify the difference: In Russia, politicians call the state attorney's office and together they "finish off" their adversaries, and send Khodorkovsky to Siberia in coordination with Putin. Politicians in Russia are both prosecutors and judges. In Israel, they aren't yet.