By Beila Rabinowitz
December 14, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The crowd at the luncheon fell silent as Avigdor Lieberman strode into the room accompanied by his body guards. The event was organized by the Middle East Forum with a Q&A period moderated by director Dr. Daniel Pipes.
Lieberman founded the Yisrael Beitienu party [Israel is our home] in 1999 with a constituency made up largely of Israel's growing Russian immigrant population. Last month he was named Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Strategic Affairs in the leftist Olmert government - a move which stunned both Lieberman's and Olmert's supporters.
He is a controversial politician whose policies towards Arabs have evoked comparisons to Rabbi Meir Kahane - who was murdered in New York by a radical Islamist.
During his address, Lieberman stated "The left sees me as a strategic threat, not Iran," adding that "our biggest problem in Israel is with the Jews." Lieberman's melancholy assessment underlines the suicidal "weg mit uns" psychopathology of the Israeli left which led one time Knesset member Meir Kahane to write that Jews were "in need of a national couch."
In a half hour talk titled "My Vision for Israel" Lieberman outlined the steps he believes need to be taken in order to preserve Israel from "another Holocaust" by a nuclear Iran, and to how to maintain the country's Jewish character by among other things, demanding an oath of loyalty to the state from all citizens and transferring the Israeli Arab population by annexing their areas to the PA.
Lieberman ascribes to Samuel P. Huntington's "clash of civilizations" model, stating that "The conflict is not about territory, settlers and occupation but about our values and our visions," a clash between the "free world" and the "Islamist radical world."
He feels that Muslims are the "source of 95% of the problems in the Middle East" and that Arab leaders are using Israel as a scapegoat for their own "internal tensions."
Lieberman declared that Abu Mazen is "the biggest obstacle to peace?excellent for declarations - but when it comes to deliver the goods - he is incompetent."
Israel's new Deputy Prime Minister sees Cyprus and the separation of Turkish and Greek populations as the template for solving the Israeli Palestinian impasse, "Everywhere in the world where you have two nations and two languages you have friction and a conflict, Mr. Lieberman explained " We saw friction and war - until the Turkish a populations were separated. We don't [yet] see a peace agreement - but we do see security, peace and prosperity."
Lieberman detailed his proposal for "an exchange of territory and population" and recounted a pre-disengagement conversation he had with the then prime minister Sharon in which he warned, "You will establish the homogenic Palestinian state without any Jews and we will become a bi-national state with 20% of the Arab population who will be connected to the other Palestinians...and we will be left with half a state."
Neither politicians nor a ground swell of public opinion stopped Sharon, who had been elected due to his perceived uncompromising stance on Arabs, but then veered into a disastrous de Judification of Gaza in an attempt to win a place in history as having resolved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Israel's Wayward Prime Ministers Dr. Daniel Pipes wrote:
"Two patterns have shaped Israel's history since 1992 and go far to explain Israel's predicament today. First, every elected prime minister has broken his word on how he would deal with the Arabs. Second, each one of them has adopted an unexpectedly concessionary approach..."
"Grandiosity and egoism, ultimately, explain the prime ministerial pattern of going soft. This brings to mind how, for centuries, French kings and presidents have bequeathed grand construction projects in Paris as their personal mark on history. In like spirit, Israeli prime ministers have since 1992 dreamed of bequeathing a grand diplomatic project.
The problem is, these are undemocratic impulses that betray the electorate, undermine faith in government, and erode Israel's position. These negative trends will continue until Israelis elect a modest prime minister."
A recent opinion poll showed that if Israeli elections were held today Netanyahu would get 22 percent of the vote and Lieberman would run a close second with 18% thus demonstrating Olmert's chances for reelection are quickly fading and proving the wisdom of Irving Kristol who once wrote "Whom the gods would destroy, they first tempt to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict."
Though political orthodoxy might predict that joining Olmert's Kadima government means Lieberman will have to adapt his policies to fit their party line, the recent past indicates that a bold departure from Israel's failed attempts at accommodation with the Islamists is what is called for. Though Lieberman may have that correct vision for Israel's future, such sentiment must be weighed against the track record of the country's politicians being blinded by hubris.
©1999-2007 Beila Rabinowitz, PipeLineNews.org, all rights reserved.