Lieberman Blames Arab Leaders for Rising Racism Among Israeli Jews

'Every day brings news about new manifestations of hate for Israel, of active cooperation with Israel's enemies.'

The leadership of the Arab minority is responsible for rising racism among Israeli Jews toward Israeli Arabs, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio on Wednesday.

Avigdor Lieberman- Tomer Appelbaum
Tomer Appelbaum

The interview followed the annual democracy index poll, the results of which were released by the Israel Democracy Institute earlier this week. According to the poll, 33 percent of Israeli Jews think Israeli Arabs should be placed in internment camps in the event of a war, and 53 percent of Israeli Jews voiced support for the state encouraging Arabs to emigrate.

"The ones responsible for these results are the people demonstrating, in 2010, inside Israel, holding portraits of [Hassan] Nasrallah and chanting support for Hezbollah, those people who support Hamas and stand with Hamas against Israel - like [Balad MK] Hanin Zuabi, who joined that ship with the most anti-Israeli activists we know," Lieberman said, referring to the flotilla that attempted to breach the blockade on Gaza this past May.

"You also see some of the intellectual leadership spying for Hezbollah - I'm talking about Amir Makhoul," the foreign minister said. "Every day brings news about new manifestations of hate for Israel, of active cooperation with Israel's enemies."

When asked if his own political line was not responsible for the rise in hatred between Jews and Arabs, Lieberman said: "I think all of the credit, 100 percent of it, should go to the Israeli Arab leadership. We are trying to lead a view that espouses sanity, the right to self defense."

"What we see in Israel has no precedent in England, in the United States or in any other democratic country," said Lieberman. "We have a former member of the Knesset, Azmi Bishara, running away after being accused of espionage - and appearing nearly every day on Hezbollah television, on Al-Manar, on Iranian television, on nearly every anti-Israel station - inciting against Israel, and still getting, as recently as this month, a pension of 6,000 shekels. It's just improbable and unacceptable anywhere in the world."

Lieberman said the fact that over half of the public (54% ) supports a pledge of allegiance to a Jewish and democratic state as a condition for the right to vote, means most of Israel's citizens understand the necessity of connecting citizenship with loyalty and that any delay would only damage the country's legitimacy.

Zuabi's office said in response that the strategy of drawing a line between Israel's Arab leadership and Arab citizens was meant to weaken the Arab citizens, but that it was doomed to fail.

The deputy speaker of the Knesset, Raleb Majadele (Labor ), said the results of the survey testified to a grave failure on the part of the Jewish Israeli society in its approach to the Arab/Palestinian Israeli population, leading to intolerable racism.

"The results of the survey should be a warning light for the leaders and opinion makers in Israel," Majadele said in a statement.