Lieberman the Fascist, In His Own Words

As I sat to write these words, a pro-democracy demonstration in Tel Aviv was winding down. Reports I received from colleagues at the march estimated the number at 20,000 in attendance, and YNET reports 15,000. This is most welcome news, and one hopes it is an indication that Israelis have woken up and recognize the threat that has grown in their midst. Another, more important, albeit much slimmer hope, is that they will also collectively realize that the side toward fascism is the inevitable result of a society that is both embroiled in constant conflict and is holding millions of others under siege or under military occupation.

Avigdor Lieberman

Israelis have been forced to the streets out of self-interest, the decay of Israel’s democratic structures, however imperfect they may always have been. Israeli blogger Noam Sheizaf sent out a tweet from the march saying that the “loudest booing to Ehud Barak, labor, for taking part in Netanyahu’s government.” But if we put a face to the assault on Israeli democracy, we inevitably see Avigdor Lieberman.

Is Lieberman, who makes the claim, with some justification at least for the moment, that he now represents the mainstream of Israeli society, really the boogeyman many of us make him out to be? Well, we have a chance to see it in his own words.

On Friday, Yediot Ahoronot, the major Israeli daily paper, ran an extensive interview with Lieberman. As far as I know, it appeared only in the print edition and only in Hebrew. For various reasons, I cannot reprint the entire interview here, but a few pieces of it will serve to allow Lieberman to demonstrate just who he really is. So, with my comments interspersed below, here is Avigdor Lieberman…

“This is an interesting phenomenon that I’ve noticed: when the left wing wants to delegitimize someone in the right wing, they always find someone from the national camp to help them. Likud people like Dan Meridor and Benny Begin gave the left wing the seal of approval to attack me. This reminds me of global anti-Semitism, the anti-Semites also always find some Israeli to help them attack Jews. “ Continue reading

The Perversion of Herzl

Delving into the truly horrifying developments in Israel regarding the attacks by the contemptible group Im Tirtzu abetted by some friends of theirs in the Knesset and the daily newspaper, Ma’ariv. Fortunately, in the Knesset, cooler heads seem to have prevailed, but it’s worth noting that the major incitement there came from a Kadima MK while the properly legal view came from ministers further right. The article in Zeek can be found here. And thanks to new friends at PalestineNote.com, you can also follow my articles there.

Israeli NGOs under assault

In a post in this space about a week ago, I discussed how occupation erodes democracy in Israel. We now have an even starker example of how the Israeli mindset, in the leadership and in a significant and growing sector of the public, is showing the effects of nearly 43 years of occupation.

Of course, one needs always to remember that Israel is a country that has always lived in fear of both international de-legitimization and attack. But now there is a new angle here. If those who truly hate Israel and wish to see its demise are smart, they’ll just stop taking any action and sit back as the increasing attacks on dissent and democracy in Israel

Im Tirzu's horrific ad attacking Naomi Chaza from the JPost

destroy it from within.

The Israeli government has increasingly involved in what one might call “NGO wars.” Partnering with the extremist right-wing group, NGO Monitor, Israel has been actively trying to undermine its own human rights community, rather than trying to confront it in the court of public opinion. The government has also tried to block foreign funding to such groups (something which must be understood with two facts: one, that Israel does not have a network of foundations as exists in the US to fund NGOs, nor does it devote significant resources to such things as they do in Europe; and two, this attempt was very selective, not a principled stand against foreign funding of NGOs in general, but, like NGO Monitor, only targeting NGOs that might be critical of government policies).

But now the Israeli right has sunk to new depths, and there is some speculation here, they are getting help from someone in the IDF and/or Shin Bet to pursue it. Im Tirzu, a group which laughably calls itself centrist when it is clearly far right in most matters, has taken vicious aim at the New Israel Fund and its head, Naomi Chazan in particular. The scurrilous nature of their campaign is easily visible in this picture that appeared in the Jerusalem Post. Continue reading