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There Are Things Much Worse Than Netanyahu - for Example, Lieberman

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem November 14, 2018
Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem November 14, 2018Credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The primeval hatred for Benjamin Netanyahu blinds even the eyes of the wise. Suddenly, Avigdor Lieberman has become the hope of the liberal secular public. Half of Israel hates Netanyahu as Israel has never hated any prime minister before, and Lieberman is the savior.

This pathological hatred for Netanyahu stems mainly from his lifestyle and his imbecilic efforts to escape justice, not from his policies or his positions. The lust to see him ousted, stoned in the city square and jailed for all eternity has long since ceased to be rational. It’s irrational to the point of obscuring the fact that there could be things much worse than Netanyahu – for example, Lieberman.

By Tormenting Bibi, Lieberman Could Save Israeli DemocracyCredit: Haaretz Weekly Ep. 28

The center-left’s sacred cannon is firing at Netanyahu, and its gunners have forgotten who Lieberman is. We’ll forgive and forget everything for Lieberman if he’ll only take down Netanyahu for us. Character witnesses on his behalf have even emerged from among the enlightened public – he’s pragmatic, strong, wise, serious; his word is his word; wait and see.

>> Read more: Netanyahu and Lieberman's political fight just got out of hand | Analysis ■ Give someone else a chance | Editorial

These assessments are ridiculous and dangerous. Lieberman never deserved them and never will. He’s one of the ugliest, most repulsive thugs in politics, and he may well make us miss Netanyahu.

Lieberman is now riding the liberal public’s two most burning hatreds – for Netanyahu and for the ultra-Orthodox. He has tortured Netanyahu for his own amusement, and the liberal public cheered.

The crisis of the last few days was created by Lieberman, not Netanyahu. Lieberman chose to make a flagship issue out of the conscription law, one of the most marginal issues on the agenda, which is based entirely on the secular public’s loathing for the ultra-Orthodox.

It doesn’t matter in the least whether the ultra-Orthodox are drafted or not. The army doesn’t need them. Conscription into an army that does what ours does is no “moral value.” And in any case, there’s no equality in the burden of service. About half of all Israelis aren’t drafted into the army, and that’s a minuscule disaster.

But for those who hate the ultra-Orthodox, Lieberman is the hero of the hour. He’ll take vengeance on those leeches in black. That is the most important issue the country has to deal with right now.

The criminal cases against Netanyahu are white as snow compared to the earlier cases against Lieberman, yet those came to nothing, under fairly shocking circumstances. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party is surely riddled with far more rot than Netanyahu’s Likud, and it’s also less democratic. Lieberman’s statements show that he’s far more of a benighted racist and nationalist than Netanyahu. But for those who want Netanyahu’s head, this is no time for a rational assessment of political positions.

Unlike Netanyahu, Lieberman is a criminal who was convicted of assault. Next to Lieberman’s cynicism, Netanyahu is a romantic. Next to Lieberman’s arrogance, Netanyahu is modest. Next to Lieberman’s thuggery, Netanyahu is Mother Teresa.

Next to Lieberman’s views, Netanyahu is a Breaking the Silence activist. Next to Lieberman’s despicable incitement against Arab Knesset members, Netanyahu is an Ahmad Tibi fan. And don’t forget, Lieberman is a settler from Nokdim, whereas Netanyahu never dreamed of being a settler.

But Lieberman is forgiven everything, if he’ll only topple Netanyahu for us and bring salvation to his people.

Just imagine Lieberman in place of Netanyahu. Even this nightmare scenario has been raised over the past few days. Granted, as defense minister, he was fortunately a zero, as he has been in all his ministerial posts. But it would be enough for him to carry out even a fraction of his threats for the portion of the public that’s now seeking the downfall of that devil Netanyahu to cry out for his return.

Remember, Lieberman initially supported “transferring” the Palestinians, then eventually replaced it with forcible land swaps, in order to ensure a majority in Israel for the chosen people. He dreamed up loyalty oaths as a condition for citizenship. He opposed the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. He’s threatened to bomb Egypt’s Aswan Dam and assassinate Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. He’s a fan of the death penalty for terrorists. He’s compared the Yesh Gvul anti-occupation organization to kapos in Nazi concentration camps. He’s blamed the left for all of Israel’s fallen and all of its troubles.

His life is always “paradise.” But ours will be much less so if, heaven forbid, he emerges stronger from the crisis he created – all over an issue of principle, of course.

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