The Protocols of Avigdor Lieberman’s Warped Mind

With his Yisrael Beiteinu party under a corruption probe, the foreign minister is attacking anyone he encounters — even Israel’s friends in Europe.

Uzi Baram
Uzi Baram
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Avigdor Lieberman and Faina Kirshenbaum during a Knesset faction meeting, November 12, 2013.
Avigdor Lieberman and Faina Kirshenbaum during a Knesset faction meeting, November 12, 2013.Credit: Emil Salman
Uzi Baram
Uzi Baram

When I heard Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman standing in Jerusalem and telling Israeli ambassadors to Europe that the lies being spread about Israel in European parliaments reminded him of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” I was no less shocked than they were.

I’ve encountered the perverse use of these forged documents in the past. When I was tourism minister in the second Rabin government I arrived in a certain Asian capital with the goal of persuading its airline to start direct flights to Israel.

“I admire the Jewish people and their intelligence,” the company’s president said politely with a smile. “Only recently I read ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ and I discovered how a small nation was planning to take over the world, not by the power of the sword, but by planning and insight.” The Israeli ambassador sitting to my right whispered that I shouldn’t utter any disapproval; the executive was referring to what he considered the source of our strength.

I’ve assumed that the Foreign Ministry has no policy aiming to improve Israel’s status around the world using “The Protocols,” and I’m not mistaken. The foreign minister has linked these false protocols and the European countries — “who live on lies and rumors.”

An ambassador present was shocked by the power of the attack, particularly by the use of “The Protocols.” He knew that this work was forged by the czar’s secret police and was used to justify the Nazi regime, which used it to explain the need to annihilate the people planning to take over the world. I’m sure that back home recovering from the assault, the ambassadors had a hard time pinpointing the root of the attack.

A 1930 Spanish copy of 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.' Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It seems that even psychology experts would have trouble explaining the syndrome that makes a reasonable person speak such slander. After all, there’s no reference in any psychology book to the latest syndrome — the Faina Kirshenbaum syndrome.

Even someone like Lieberman, who has written and said contradictory things for years, wouldn’t dare make such insane remarks in front of ambassadors to important countries if the police hadn’t launched an investigation into Kirshenbaum, a probe that threatens to destroy his Yisrael Beiteinu party. Aggressive media consultants have advised him to deflect the blame by attacking anyone he encounters.

Parenthetically I would say that Lieberman’s claim against the attorney general — about making the corruption probe public just as the election campaign was beginning — has some merit, but this has nothing to do with his contemptible use of ridiculous anti-Semitic writings.

The votes that will flee Lieberman because of the allegations against Kirshenbaum have left him using gutter language that every Israeli statesman must take care to avoid. What does he think, that European countries don’t know how we behave in the territories? They oppose the Israeli occupation and see it and the settlements as the roots of the bloody conflict. All European countries fight anti-Semitism and condemn any expression of racism against us.

But the European countries want something that isn’t acceptable to the Israeli government: an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In his effort to attack this aspiration, our foreign minister felt the need to invoke “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” But he wasn’t thinking about them, he was thinking about the Kirshenbaum syndrome that made him forgo all restraint as the Yisrael Beiteinu movement sinks.

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