LONDON - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday to a Jewish audience in London that he expects Jewish communities around the world to support whatever Israeli government is in power, regardless of its views.
Lieberman who was speaking at an event sponsored by the British branch of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) responded to the controversy within the Jewish community in London, following the objections of Jewish groups, including the Habonim Dror youth movement and the Reform and Liberal rabbis organizations, to his appearance.
"It is not my responsibility to give advice," said the foreign minister, who was greeted upon arrival at the Pillar Hotel in North London, by demonstrations of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups outside, "but my expectations from all Jewish communities is first of all to support any government in Israel. It doesn't matter whether it's dovish or right wing, it's democratically elected.
"All Jewish people have a right to be in this discussion and I respect their right to protest but I expect all Jewish communities to support whatever Israel government there is," he added.
The protest against Lieberman's appearance launched by members of the Zionist-leftist youth movement Habonim Dror, who published an online petition questioning the JNF's "involvement in activities which jeopardize the possibility of peace and Israel's ability to maintain a strong democracy," specifically evictions of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and the demolition of buildings at the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev.
In addition to these questions part of an ongoing campaign by Jewish leftist organizations against some of the activities funded by the venerable Zionist organization the petitioners also criticized the invitation of Lieberman, a "leader of a far-right party, who alongside instigating anti-democratic legislation in the Knesset has also advocated for the transfer of many of Israel's Arab citizens to the West Bank."