Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Avigdor Lieberman's epic chutzpah

Surprisingly enough, a Christopher Hitchens column about Israel that I actually agree with, on Avigdor Lieberman.

Now we have to watch the rise of a thug and a demagogue who has called with relish for the execution of elected Arab members of Israel's parliament if they meet with Hamas, who has demanded the drowning of Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea, whose supporters chant "Death to the Arabs" at their rallies, and who has materialized the worst fears of those Arabs who have made the longest-lasting accommodation with the Jewish state. Avigdor Lieberman's essentially totalitarian and Inquisitionist style, though, may be even more manifest in his insistence that non-Zionist haredim, or pious Jews, also either take an oath of loyalty or forfeit their citizenship. This takes the ax to the root of the idea that Jews have a presence in Jerusalem from time immemorial and that their resulting rights are not derived from, or dependent on, any state or any ideology. Shame on Benjamin Netanyahu if he makes even a temporary alliance with Lieberman. As questionable as the "right to return" may already be, it certainly cannot confer the right to expel.

I knew about the racism, the call for the execution of Arab members of Knesset who meet with Hamas (what about Israeli officials who are actually negotiating with Hamas right now?) and the threat to Israeli Arabs' citizenship. I hadn't known that he made the same threat to the non-Zionist haredim. No wonder Rav Ovadya Yosef (the leader of Shas, the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party) warned that a vote for Lieberman was a vote for Satan: "Whoever votes for Lieberman gives strength to Satan."

I haven't written earlier about the results of the Israeli election on Feb. 10 because frankly I find them so depressing. Any election in which Bibi Netanyahu is not the worst choice elected is really a bad sign.

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