In Order to Block Lieberman, I’m Even Willing to Vote for Likud

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, June 2019.
Emil Salman

One cannot talk about the shenanigans with the cameras in voting stations in Arab communities without thinking of what will happen here under the rule of Avigdor Lieberman. Benjamin Netanyahu’s incitement against Israeli Arabs is ugly, but it doesn’t stem from emotional or racist sources; he knows that a high voter turnout in Arab towns and villages poses a threat to his rule, and he tries to thwart it with different methods every time there is an election. A trapped animal will chew off its limb in order to escape; Netanyahu is gnawing away at the limbs of democracy.

It’s serious and it’s terrible, but it’s not as bad as a dark and rapacious hatred toward Arabs, just because they’re Arabs. Such ethnic racism is more befitting of Netanyahu’s son Yair, who behaves and expresses himself like a rabid Kahanist. Until recently, such an attitude was the flagship of Lieberman’s party. Netanyahu is really much smarter than that.

For this and other reasons, if I were faced with the cruel choice of these two options – Benjamin Netanyahu or Avigdor Lieberman – I would unhesitatingly choose Netanyahu. Even when talking about corruption and power, one should distinguish between different shades and the extent of the corruption, and Netanyahu doesn’t come close – and wont, even if he’s reincarnated a dozen times – to the dark and mysterious affairs of Lieberman.

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“One witness disappeared, another committed suicide – apparently by two gunshots, while at his mother’s grave. There were many strange things about this case,” related attorney Avia Alef, who was the prosecutor investigating the suspicions surrounding Lieberman, in a conversation with Haaretz in 2013. “The whole time we felt there was someone who was just one step ahead of us. We realized that whatever we knew, someone knew it first… for a while we were worried about wiretapping. For a while I thought I was being followed, and I have support for this. I wrote notes to myself. At some point I went to the police and told them I believed they had a mole… there was an entire system of interference and harassment in place. When we got to Cyprus, we realized someone had been there first, asking for preparations to be made.”

In the end, former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein blew it and closed the case and Lieberman got a slap on the wrist. And yet, I believe this case should be resurrected. There are too many people, probably ten Knesset seats' worth, some of whom vote for center-left parties, who have been afflicted by amnesia as well as by an inability to distinguish between a prime minister corrupted by a lengthy period in power and panicking at the thought of legal proceedings and possible jail time, making him act in unparalleled destructive ways, and someone who (according to Alef’s description) seems to be a sinister and ruthless person who will stop at nothing, a person whose party has also been sullied by a corruption case involving public figures, associates and Knesset members suspected of bribery and fraud.

But look at how he gave it to Bibi, shout the enthusiasts from the bleachers. Well, my impression is that he also served me wrong; his latest move served only himself. As soon as he spotted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be prime minister, we were all sent to a repeat election. It’s hard to find the right words for the syndrome that has overtaken people on the left, this “Liebermania” which causes people great moral confusion. But they may get what they wish for, since it appears that in any constellation, Lieberman, our new Rocky Balboa – the one who struck a 12-year-old child, the one who coined the phrase “no citizenship without loyalty,” the one who won’t sit next to Arab lawmakers – will demand a rotation in the prime minister’s position.

In order to prevent him from assuming that post, I’m even willing to vote for Likud. You think one more Netanyahu term is a nightmare? You should know that there’s something even worse.