Posts Tagged ‘Lieberman’


American leaders continue to demonstrate that changes in the rest of the world, and the deep flaws in our foreign policy which they reveal, will have no impact on our thinking whatsoever. The latest case in point is the position staked out by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) with regard to Lebanon.

Remember Lebanon? Subsequent events have pushed Lebanon out of the news in the United States and even, to a lesser extent, in Israel, which has more reason to be concerned with what goes on there. But the collapse of Lebanon’s government at the beginning of this year remains at issue, and, with all the consternation these days

Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain

about where a post-Mubarak Egypt will end up, Lebanon has at least as much potential for both international intrigue and internal strife as any country in the Middle East.

Lebanon’s political situation is always precarious; it’s only a matter of degree. But with a caretaker government currently in power and the still-looming announcement of indictments by the UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), Lebanon is a powder keg. And it’s not happening in a vacuum.

The two competing coalitions are each in the favor of a different array of outside actors. The March 8 Alliance, which currently holds 70 of the 128 seats in Parliament, includes Hezbollah and is sympathetic to Syria and Iran. The March 14 Alliance features former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement and enjoys much stronger relationships with France, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The STL was set up to investigate the assassination of Hariri’s father, Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, a widely respected leader who was also opposed to the Syrian presence in his country.

Not surprisingly, the STL was, at first, expected to point the accusing finger at Syria. Now, the talk is centered on Hezbollah. The arrest and imprisonment for four years without charge of four pro-Syrian generals who were later freed for lack of evidence greatly increased the politicization of the STL, and this continued as Hezbollah went on a rhetorical offensive about it, including accusing Israel of Hariri’s murder.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s speculations about Israeli responsibility have only minimal evidentiary support, but they are not impossible either. But they served their purpose in further undermining the STL’s credibility.

Hezbollah and Syria both had motive to kill Hariri, and if both or either were involved, they would have every reason to do anything they can to discredit the STL. But the fact that supposedly key testimony has been retracted and that many accusations of false testimony have been leveled; that the direction of accusations was leaked to the public at such an early stage; that four Lebanese generals were jailed for four years without trial or charge and then freed for lack of evidence; that Hariri has publicly retracted his accusations against Syria for the killing of his father; and the campaign against it by Hezbollah and Syria, including the theory of Israeli involvement have all combined to cast the legitimacy into doubt should be giving us serious pause. It isn’t, apparently. (more…)

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I recently wrote about the right-wing plans being floated for a one-state solution. In truth, of course, the idea really encompassed two states, with Israel encompassing what is now that state and also including the West Bank, and Gaza being a Palestinian state.

Avigdor Lieberman

Now, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is advancing the idea from the other direction. Lieberman wants Israel to finish disengaging from Gaza, renouncing all responsibility for the Strip and allowing it its freedom while cutting it off from Israel completely.

Lieberman’s plan has not met with approving ears by the international community, nor by the Palestinians, and the Netanyahu government has thus far ignored it. But it seems very likely that it, in some form, will, at some future point, connect with the notion of annexing the West Bank and become the new right-wing alternative to the traditional two-state solution.

Lieberman’s notion and the annexationist stance should not be taken lightly. True, the ideas have little support outside of far-right circles at this point; but they have the kind of appeal that is likely to spread to the center-right and center of Israeli politics. It has the potential, in the long term, to seduce many who today are in the Kadima or Labor parties.

Lieberman’s plan, not surprisingly, has met with sharp denunciations from both Fatah and Hamas. Still, if the plan were ever realized, Hamas would certainly take the opportunity to further consolidate their rule in Gaza and begin to develop the Strip again. Indeed, such a plan would end up benefiting Hamas more than any other party. (more…)

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My latest in Zeek Magazine explores the implications of the Republican victor in the Massachusetts Senate election and where Obama needs to go from here.

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Let’s leave aside for a moment the concerns over Avigdor Lieberman’s effect on peace with the Palestinians. What does it say about a country when this man is appointed Foreign Minister?

Avigdor Lieberman was questioned on April 2 for more than seven hours by Israeli police about suspicions of bribery, money laundering, fraud and breach of trust. This happened less than a day after he took the post. And it was not

Israels new Foreign Minister

Israel's new Foreign Minister

breaking news–these allegations had been public for many months, well before the election.

This man is not only a fascist and racist, he is also a corrupt thief, and this is no secret in Israel. No doubt, apologists for Lieberman in the United States (which, shamefully, includes such Jewish leaders as Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League) will say he should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty.

In terms of a criminal conviction, that’s true. But politically, the accusations themselves say a lot, and, more than that, Lieberman’s dealings have been well known in Israel. Few there doubt he’s guilty, whether he’s ever convicted or not.

And if we’re looking for convictions, what about the fact that Lieberman was convicted, in 2001 of assault–on a 12-year old boy.

That a man like this is now in the top diplomatic cabinet post in Israel is shameful. It’s the kind of thing that one expects from petty dictatorships.

Israel is often unfairly bashed. But when a man like this is their foreign minister, how much respect do they think they deserve?

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My latest article on Israeli elections for Zeek Magazine can be read at this link. In it, I argue that a Netanyahu-led coalition is actually better for Israel than a Livni-led one.

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