He’s the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and is having a serious impact on this election. He’s demanding that all Israelis – including Arabs – declare loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state. Sound reasonable? As he’s sitting in third in the polls, ahead of the once mighty Labor Party, a lot of Israelis believe so.
Avignor Lieberman is an immigrant from Moldova (which is why the party is sometimes disparagingly referred to as the Russian Party) but his support now reaches well beyond Israelis who hail from eastern Europe and Russia (they number around one million).
Arab Israelis make up around 20 per cent of the Israeli population and he sees many of them as an enemy within. How dare their political leaders speak to Hamas or Hezbollah? How dare they not serve in our army he argues? If they don’t like what this country they should leave, or their land should be removed from Israel.
One of his key policies is for areas of Israel with high Arab populations to become part of a new Palestinian state, and for Israeli settlements to be left as they are.
Some call him racist. Others a pragmatist and a proud nationalist. What do you make of him, and his rising support in Israel?
Should all of us be expected to declare loyalty to a common notion of what our country is? If we want to be a citizen, is that the least we can do? Or does this obsctruct freedom of thought in an acceptable way?