We Must Stop the Nationalist and Racist Lieberman

In the last elections Lieberman crossed a line. A person who for years was the bad boy of Israeli politics, but nothing more than a joke with a goatee, became a nationalist and a racist.

Eldad Yaniv
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Eldad Yaniv

Every one who fell for the "either Tzipi or Bibi" canard during the last elections had best not forget where those two, Benjamin (Bibi ) Netanyahu who is now Prime Minister and Tzipi Livni, who is now opposition leader, spent the night between Tuesday and Wednesday last week when the Israeli Knesset passed two controversial laws.

It isn't surprising that Netanyahu and Tzipi fled from their responsibility to preserve a Jewish and democratic Israel. Netanyahu has been sitting with the post-Zionist nationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor (Yvet ) Lieberman in the government and in an interview Livni called him a "friend."

Avigdor Lieberman speaking to reporters in February 2011.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Netanyahu, without fawning like Livni, appointed Lieberman foreign minister and acting prime minister.

But it isn't only Netanyahu and Livni who must be remembered upon entering the voting booth next time. The Labor Party ministers and Knesset members must also not be forgotten.

Some of them are running for their party's leadership but every one of them gave their vote of confidence to the government time after time during the past two years.

In the last elections Lieberman crossed a line. A person who for years was the bad boy of Israeli politics, but nothing more than a joke with a goatee, became a nationalist and a racist.

In accurate Hebrew he translated Jean-Marie Le Pen from French or Joerg Haider from German. If some of the race laws he advanced last week in the Knesset had been passed against Jews in European countries, official Jerusalem would have recalled its ambassadors for consultations.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, the compass and the conscience of both Netanyahu and Livni, are turning over in their graves.

But not only they. At a convenient opportunity hundreds of thousands of Israelis who vote for Lieberman "because Israel needs a strong leader" really should go back and reread Theodor Herzl's "Altneuland."

If Herzl were to take a quick peek from the world to come, he would say simply that Lieberman is a post-Zionist, not an Israeli, definitely not a Jew and certainly not a democrat.

In order to stop Lieberman we must vow in the next elections not to vote for any party that doesn't commit itself to not sitting with Lieberman in the government. Even if the head of the party is Livni and we hate Bibi. Because what value is there in booting Netanyahu if Lieberman continues to serve as acting prime minister in a Livni government?

This isn't a matter of a demonstrative protest vote, a boycott of Lieberman or casting him out beyond the pale. For the center-left to win in the next elections, it must call the demon it has to exorcise by its name.

Facing the supporters of the nationalist and racist Lieberman, the Zionist camp will assemble, the camp that wants Israel to remain Jewish and democratic, the camp of the middle class, which is fed up with Lieberman thinking Israel belongs to the wealthy and to the settlers.

It is true half the nation is afraid of missiles on Ben-Gurion International Airport but the other half is even more from afraid of having Lieberman as prime minister.

The American consultant Stan Greenberg, who lectured last week to the embryonic leftist group known as the Rubinger Roundtable, thinks that for the center-left to defeat the right it has to become an agent of change amd look opposite to everything the right symbolizes. Thus, an absolute rejection of the possibility Lieberman will already create a center-left government in the next election, with Aryeh Deri as the blocking gatekeeper.

When in the next election campaign Lieberman calls out in Russian "Da, Lieberman, da," it is necessary to stand up before him with an Israeli flag in hand and answer him in exactly the same language: "Yvet, nyet."

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