Meet Avignor Lieberman

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?

11 Responses to “Meet Avignor Lieberman”

  1. 1 Roberto
    February 9, 2009 at 11:19

    RE “” Arab Israelis make up around 20 per cent of the Israeli population and he sees many of them as an enemy within. “”

    ——————– Exactly what Hamas wants, a complete schism between Israeli Jews and Israeli Muslims.

    Have no answer on how to improve relations between the two other than to note there was plenty of peaceful relations before the restart of the Palestinian intifada in 2000. Mr. Lieberman represents a war front politician and a closed, heavy handed fist as a result of attacks on Israel.

    I’m proud of Israel having a strong peace movement that has brought the Pals to the brink of internationally recognized statehood until Arafat threw it all away in 2000. There is no shame in understanding it may take a war leader to finally make a peace.

  2. 2 Meir Avrahami
    February 9, 2009 at 14:47

    The silver lining to this cloud is that he is provoking more Arab or Palestinian Israelis to vote

    No one need worry – he achieved very little in the last Kenesset – this is his peek & I doubt he wil have much real influence if he joins the govt

  3. 3 Marija Liudvika Rutkauskaite
    February 9, 2009 at 15:37

    The idea of Avignor Lieberman of the citizens, whether Israelis or Arabs, swearing loyalty to the Israel state sounds indeed reasonable. What makes it credible is that the oath of allegiance is actually practised in the USA and obviously has the desired effect. Probably this might be the decision for Israel when one reflects on the historical, geographical and demographic relations and entanglements in the Middle East. Israel seems to have modelled its political reasoning on the American pattern and to have learnt something from the USA in the intensity of its relations.
    Thank you very much for this opportunity and this slot for a reply.
    Marija Liudvika Rutkauskaite

  4. 4 Jim Newman
    February 9, 2009 at 16:55

    Hello again
    Mr. Liebermann seems to present the honest face of zionism without the hypocrisy. He seems nasty, zionist and not nearly so loving as his name may suggest.

  5. 5 viola
    February 9, 2009 at 17:27

    Loyalty should be a prerequisite for citizenship in any country. Can’t see what good forced oaths would be, though. They would probably just force people to lie or get royally teed off.

  6. February 9, 2009 at 17:48

    As a child of the 1950’s Hollywood blacklist, I find loyalty oaths off-putting. They are often misused by fanatics and exploited by bullies. At the same time I like the “with liberty and justice for all” part of my county’s pledge of allegiance. That includes the liberty to refuse to recite the pledge if you are not comfortable with loyalty oaths.

  7. February 9, 2009 at 18:24

    I do feel disturbed that Avigdor Lieberman is being taken as seriously on the political scene as he is. He has issued statements in the past that seem to cross the line from racist to genocidal. I am curious to know how he plans to interact with Palestine, with other neighbouring countries, and with international organisations such as the UN, the ICC, and Amnesty International.

  8. 8 Edward Hubbard
    February 9, 2009 at 18:32

    Why should an Arab swear loyalty to a state that defines itself by its Jewishness?

  9. 9 Wil Geier
    February 9, 2009 at 18:59

    How will it be determined who supports Hamas and who doesn’t? The suggestion that those who declare loyalty to terrorist groups lose civil rights is foolish; there’s no way to find out other than wiretaps, making the Palestinians a lesser class than Jews.

  10. 10 Hakima
    February 9, 2009 at 21:03

    Isn’t it sickening, that the Arabs who have lived for centuries in Ex-Palestine ( before the partition), are being asked from a Moldovan immigrant to leave if they can’t be loyal to Israel as a “Jewish state”.

    While in fact it is so disturbing that this man is being taken seriously in politics, as he was the one who has asked the IDF during Israel’s massacre on Gaza to wipe out Gaza with a nuclear bomb. Nevertheless I respect this man for his honesty, at least he is not a hypocrite, he says what he really thinks!!!

    Unlike Livni, Peres and the rest of so called ” peace making leaders”, who dare to claim that they have no problem with Palestinians, in fact we love the palestniIsns Peres once claimed!!!

    I wonder what would these leaders would do if they detested the Palestinians??

  11. 11 Fred
    February 9, 2009 at 23:52

    This obviously a reaction to Arab irrendentist attitudes .
    For the last 15 years, the ticket for political success on the Israeli Arab street seemed to be strident rhetoric against the State.
    The more angry and bitter the rhetoric, the better the Arab parties—competing among themselves—seemed to do at the polls among the Arab voters in Israel .

    The problem is that it was not only the voters in Umm el-Fahm, Kafr Kana and Rahat [[Arab Israeli Towns ] who were listing to the diatribes of Balad’s Azmi Bishara and UAL-Ta’al’s Taleb a-Sanaa and Ahmed Tibi; so were the Jewish Israeli residents of Tel Aviv, Modi’in and Jerusalem.

    So when Lieberman runs on a ticket demanding loyalty to the State, his words are falling on ears extremely weary of Bishara, Sanaa and Tibi’s tirades.

    Nearly every action has a reaction.
    Everyone has been so concerned over the years about what reaction Israel’s actions would generate among the Palestinians, that they overlooked the degree to which Palestinian and Israeli Arab actions have caused a reaction among the Israeli public. [viz Hamas taunting with rockest form Gaza and Israeli Arab politicians cosying up to enemies of the State ]
    But if the polls of the last few days prove even a somewhat accurate predictor, that right-wing reaction will become clear for all to see when the country wakes up Wednesday morning.

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