Lieberman Didn’t Know

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Avigdor Lieberman.
Avigdor Lieberman.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

When is the last time we suspected the innocent? Instead, suspicions end up being proven. Scandal follows scandal; dunghill follows dunghill; and if we delve deeper, the stench erupts from every hole. Only those who do nothing don’t steal; only the idlers allow themselves to be honest people, sometimes.

Who knows one? There’s no one who knows. Everyone is busy up to their ears — “working for the country” — and has no attention to spare for details and petty cash. They’re up above, and nobody tells them what’s happening below them or around them, so what are they guilty of?

Ehud Olmert laid the foundations for the “I didn’t know” system. Journalists Tommy Lapid, Amnon Dankner and Dan Margalit also didn’t notice anything. The denial was so lethal that it blinded the “sons of light,” and now the sun shines for them out of a different rear end. Even judges believed liked simpletons, and thus Olmert never began serving the sentence imposed on him four years ago.

The deeds of the fathers are also a sign for the daughters: The justice minister doesn’t know who Serge Muller is, though he was one of the biggest contributors to her primary campaign. Because he didn’t wear a nametag on his lapel, no one bothered to warn her that this man, Serge, was wanted by Interpol; he’s suspected of trafficking in drugs and arms, of money laundering and ties with terrorist organizations. Now, he’s been arrested on an international warrant.

And it’s not just Ayelet Shaked. Ministers Gilad Erdan, Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin also received the maximum permissible contribution from this criminal, but needless to say, they didn’t know. Perhaps it would be better to make the “nametag law” apply to everyone, and not just left-wing NGOs; that way, we wouldn’t put a stumbling-block before the nationalist right, which would surely prefer yellow as the color that identifies the eternal victims. It’s not good for the law to be patched with patch after patch.

But if Olmert was the founder of this system, Avigdor Lieberman was the one who perfected it — to the point of not knowing Haman from Mordechai, or anything else. Lieberman is a medical marvel: a plague of destruction that strikes down people all around him, creating more and more prima facie casualties, yet he alone isn’t infected, as if he enjoys natural immunity. The best researchers are trying to trace the source of this virus — perhaps in Belarus or Moldova or Republika Srpska or Russia itself, all places where Lieberman loves to visit, but from which he always returns. This is our man in the enlightened part of the globe, the man who is beyond all suspicion.

Just last week, he headed an official Knesset delegation that had been invited to monitor the elections in Azerbaijan. The local opposition boycotted the elections, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe warned of fraud, human rights groups protested the persecution and arrest of journalists and social activists, but the inspector general from Nokdim whitewashed all the problems in his capacity as a reputable authority on stench, an expert in clean government.

Ministers and deputy ministers from Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party have already smelled the Lysol in police interrogation rooms, but what does he have to do with them? Only he, like a pomegranate tree and a candidate for defense minister, gives off an aroma all the way from the Dead Sea to Jericho, en route to Sodom.

Knesset members from his faction, senior staffers in his party, lobbyists in his service, corporate executives that he appointed, his public relations agents and advisers, his neighbor, his driver and his attorney — they were all his people. And last but not the least, the first to be investigated, his talented daughter, whose rewards were great even in her youth, as if she were the son of Ariel Sharon.

All were his appointments, and now they all enjoy the presumption of innocence. How could Lieberman have known that dozens of his cronies went astray? He rose, and they committed crimes. Even Rahamim, he of the satirical show “Eretz Nehederet,” didn’t know.

The “I didn’t know” system is still in operation: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also didn’t know that his nominee for head of the National Information Directorate was a cat in heat who, due to the precepts of Jewish law, had never been neutered.

These are your leaders, Israel. It’s true that they know too little, but we know a great deal more about them.

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