05 November 2006

In defense of Avigdor Lieberman

I could hardly believe that a day will come when I'll have to place a header like this. Lieberman is all I detest in a person: a right-wing extremist for whom "might is right" is the credo. A political product of Bibi's school, skilled in political skullduggery, with ethics of a magpie and all the charm of a rattlesnake.

But after reading an article in Guardian by the inimitable Jonathan Steele, I have decided that Avigdor pales compared to that stinker of a scribe, and something must be said on the subject. The same Steel who sung hosanna to Hamas, who keened for "politician" Basayev, found himself a new Satan in Avigdor Lieberman. Which by itself wouldn't bother me a lot, if only our scribe has not resorted to the lies and half-truths he puts to use so frequently.

To start with - the header of the article: "The rise of the rightwinger who takes his cue from Putin". One would expect an essay of parallels between the two, but Putin is mentioned only once in the article, in relation to the old trick of raising the elections threshold for small parties. But the headline does the trick: Lieberman is linked in your mind to Putin. No matter that Guardian rarely criticises Putin, unless it is about Chechnya - and you know why Chechnya is of interest to the Guardian.

But of course, the axis of the article is presentation of Lieberman as racist. The subtitle makes it quite clear from the start: "The return to power of Avigdor Lieberman and his anti-Arab racism is a mark of the point Israeli politics has now reached". Leave aside the fact that several openly racist parties in Europe (and in Britain) are raising to the levels unheard after the WW II. Forget for the moment the calls by Hezbollah leaders and their ilk elsewhere for extermination of all Jews (not all Israelis even) - it is Lieberman who is racist. So where is the proof of this statement?

Lieberman has described Tibi and other Israeli Arabs who have met Hamas officials as traitors. They should be executed, he said last year, just as the judges at Nuremberg condemned not only Nazi leaders but those who collaborated with them.
Lieberman is definitely a boorish extremist, this quote shows it just fine. But where is the proof of racism?
Lieberman also advocates stripping Arabs in north-eastern Israel of their citizenship and putting their areas under Palestinian rule. In return, Israel should take more land on the West Bank than even Olmert envisages.
The old separation story. Not so new and not exactly confined to the framework of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even a person so ideologically motivated as Steele could have turned a few pages of history books. Separation is an extremist idea, even if it was already carried out many times in many areas of the world. But does it prove Lieberman's racism? By the way, I do not remember Guardian calling Mahmoud the Mad racist for his daily calls for annihilation of Israel and/or removal of Jews to their countries of origin.

As if the above was insufficient, follows an interesting observation about the Lieberman's road to power:
He got his initial support from post-Soviet Russian immigrants, appealing to their anti-Arab racism and instinct for tough leadership.
Of course, there is no proof of this "anti-Arab racism" of Russian immigrants, but Steele does not need no steenkin' proof, does he? And knowing zilch about the background and problems of these immigrants, Steele doesn't bother his puny brain with a sociological research, of course.

I shall borrow a conclusion from neffer - one of the commenters addressing Steele in the article comments area:
In fact, your position is a rather foolish and one sided position given that the Palestinian Arab position calls exactly for moving people - not merely determining their citizenship - by virtue of their religion.
Foolish and one sided - this is the life story of Jonathan Steele...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com