In the past, they regarded him as someone who had come from both near and far; as someone who had built a nest among us like a foreign species of bird who had displaced the local fowl. But no longer - today he is the national bird.
The way in which he was absorbed here is a success story that has no equal; he was a rising star. When the second decade arrived and the first decade was being summed up, his image as the super-Israeli stood out immediately - the Israeli who inherits the earth, someone more Israeli than any other. His facial composite bears an exact reflection of the face of the generation.
He represents verbal abuse and, at least in one case, physical abuse; there is no one who speaks as loud as he does.
He takes care of both the state and his own home at the same time, as well as his daughter. He stirs up disputes between people while pretending to be a persecuted minority.
He keeps company with the oligarchs because he is of their ilk. He rubs up against the law enforcers, defies the authorities investigating him and tries with his own hands to break the branch on which he sits even though he might have to sit there in the future. He is the person least suited to his position and yet many challenges still await him.
He is the stranger and he is one of us, he is like a bone stuck in our throats and he is part and parcel of our own bones. Is there anyone who is more of a prototype than he? Is there anyone who more successfully portrays the spirit of the times?
There are Israelis who are more typical than he is, but there is no Israeli as typical as he - whose thoroughbred personality encompasses the characteristics of this time and place. One can merely wonder how the summations of the past decade - of which we had so many - did not shine any light upon him as he "trod the high places of the earth," pushing aside all the caricatures of the naive Israeli who had represented us before him.
His defense attorneys say that behind closed doors he behaves with composure, like a civilized person; it is only when he emerges from the tent that he goes berserk. It would be more appropriate for the opposite to happen - for him to overturn tables while inside, and neatly set them when outside.
It became clear this week that his integration here is in fact more perfect than had been thought. Even the leaders of the Semitic Action movement that advocated Israel's integration into the region never imagined that he of all people would be their successor; Uri Avnery is writhing in his bed as this new salt of the earth is being poured on his wounds.
"Terms such as national pride have value in the Middle East," Avigdor Lieberman explained to 150 surprised ambassadors who had gathered in Jerusalem. "The problem with Israeli diplomacy," the Foreign Minister complained, "is that it does not preserve the state's honor. The period of obsequiousness is now over." Therefore the minister is instructing his emissaries all over the world to bang on the doors that have not been opened to him.
We came to this country to work, the early settlers thought; but Lieberman has come here to preserve the state's honor - and precisely at a time when the proud Arab nation is less inclined to wallow in respectful ceremonies, and is bequeathing these customs to the Jews.
Next thing you know, we'll be conducting honor killings.
He came from a large country and saw a country that was too small. There was no choice but to enlarge its territory, to thin out its population and, most importantly, to puff up its chest.
He is no longer a stranger; we who are meek and bent over, we are the strangers in our land.
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