What Does Lieberman Want?

Avigdor Lieberman doesn't really care about the issues -- any issues. What he cares about is rising to the top, and our own sorry system keeps pushing him there.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Now that we've been orphaned (for a few weeks ) of our foreign minister, the question arises again with full force: What does Avigdor Lieberman want? This would be a simple question when asked about most politicians, but not about him.

Menachem Begin was a Revisionist, Yitzhak Rabin was a Zionist, Shimon Peres always wanted both peace and settlements, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak want a place in the history books, Ehud Olmert wanted both to prove himself and enjoy himself. These desires burned in their bones. What motivates Lieberman?

When he was in National Union he supported "transferring" Arabs out of Israel; in Yisrael Beiteinu he wanted population exchanges. So is he as rabid a rightist, nationalist, racist as he sounds? Not necessarily. Aside from making pronouncements at specific political junctures, he hasn't initiated any particularly evil plans.

A warmonger, perhaps? He hasn't pushed for any wars. An Arab-hater? He's never taken any concrete steps against them, only incited. He doesn't seem particularly obsessed about anything - on the contrary, our Lieberman seems amazingly nonchalant: Everything is "heaven," always.

A fervent Zionist? Tied to the land with the depths of his soul? We've never seen him vacation in the Galilee, take emotional tours of Jerusalem or make pilgrimages to the graves of our forefathers in Hebron. Concerned about immigrants from the former Soviet Union? The only immigrant that seems to interest him is himself, when he imagines he's being attacked because of his background. He has done nothing in particular to help immigrants.

A builder of settlements? A fan of the "hilltop youth?" Although he lives in the settlement of Nokdim, his inner circle doesn't include settlers and he has stated that he'd be willing to give up his home in his own remote settlement under certain conditions. Feminism? The environment? Health? Once upon a time, he proposed a form of civil marriage for couples who couldn't marry in Israel, but then he abandoned it; another time, he proposed that citizens pledge allegiance to the state, but he forgot about that, too.

Indeed, a careful reading of his statements reveals periodic barking against Arabs, Muslims, Europeans, anti-Semites and the whole world, as well as their opposite, whenever necessary, like at the end of Operation Pillar of Defense. This is interspersed from time to time with barking against the ultra-Orthodox, or barbs about the "three Polish wenches" who now head political parties - just to break the routine. Malice, malice he shall pursue.

Even the Foreign Ministry, the high point of his career to date, didn't really interest him. He made no contribution to Israel's foreign relations, which didn't seem to top his agenda in any case. What does it matter if Europe is for us or against us?

He always has an arrogant and disgusted look on his face. There were months during which we hardly heard from him, which included mysterious periodic vacations in Belarus, with breaks to make crude remarks about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or anything else that moved.

Our "dear man" (lieber-man ) is here to enjoy and entertain himself. He even enjoyed himself in the interrogation rooms, he said. "Does only Lieberman understand Arabic?" he would ask. Actually, he doesn't really understand Hebrew, either. Only "Liebermanic," the language of pleasure that comes with power and money.

His entrance into politics, his stay there and his meteoric rise were total coincidences. He came, and he saw that it's very easy - all you have to do is incite, frighten and divide, and you're in to stay. He came because of the price and stayed because of the service.

With ease came appetite, and now he's on his way to the top. For what? For more power, more pleasure in this Garden of Eden, where for him everything, but everything, is just fine.

Due to the wretchedness of our legal and political systems, he will skip to the top easily, wearing the sweat suits he likes to be photographed in. Nothing will stop him, neither the doubtful rule of law of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein nor Israel's obtuse public opinion.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome Avigdor Lieberman. Read the allegations against him, describing the huge sums that flowed; they make the Greek island affair (in which a businessman allegedly hired Ariel Sharon's son so that Sharon would facilitate his business ) look like a charity event. These suspicions should be enough to destroy the career of any politician, even if he didn't stand trial. But not in Israel.

All this says a lot about Lieberman, but it says even more about us. Look at Lieberman and you see us. So how did this man rise to the top? It's hard, so hard, to understand. Or maybe it isn't.



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