From the gobsmacked in Gotham department, a lot of people have been passing this around. The New York Times published a piece on the return of Avigdor Lieberman to the post of Israeli Foreign Minister– “Lieberman Returns, but Abrasive Style Appears Absent”– that goes on about how much kinder and gentler he is since his suspension. Reporter Jodi Rudoren gives him A’s for deportment.
Gone, it appears, is the Avigdor Lieberman who accused the Palestinian president of “diplomatic terrorism,” dismissed the prospect of peace as “decades away” and called for Arab citizens of Israel to take a loyalty oath. Instead, Mr. Lieberman said in a recent speech that “we have to build an economy” for the Palestinians to pave the way for an agreement.
Gone, for now at least, is the abrasive, blunt gadfly who was shunned by the White House and clashed publicly with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over Jewish settlements in the West Bank. In his place is a conciliatory diplomat urging calmer conversation with Washington over Iran’s nuclear program…
The jarring thing about the piece is what a bad week Lieberman is having everywhere else, how offensive he’s been found to be by other media. The Guardian reports Lieberman’s defiant response to demonstrations against the Prawer Plan– which will forcibly remove more than 40,000 Bedouins from their villages in the Negev.
“We are fighting over the national land of the Jewish people and there are those that intentionally try to steal that land and control it by force. It is impossible to close our eyes and run from this reality.”
So the Bedouins are stealing Jewish land? Lieberman improved on that charge here, saying Palestinians are robbing and seizing Jewish land. From Ynet:
“Nothing has changed since the Tower and Stockade days [1920s-30s Mandate period of Zionist settlement]. We are fighting for the lands of the Jewish people and there are those who intentionally try to rob and seize them,” Lieberman said in a Facebook post.
Haaretz editorialized that Lieberman’s tower-and-stockade comments are “intolerable,” and that the government plans for ‘Judaization’ of the Galilee are racist.
This is a state acting unjustly toward its citizens….
Whether the Prawer initiative will benefit the Bedouin, as the government claims, or harm them, as its opponents argue, the foreign minister’s remarks are intolerable. Since the days of the tower and stockade, the expulsion of Arabs from their villages and the expropriation of land in the Negev and the Galilee, a state was established. The state’s sovereignty over its lands needs no “reinforcement.” What is in desperate need of reinforcement, however, is the egalitarian, non-racist, nondiscriminatory character of the state.
Oudeh Basharat also finds Lieberman racist, writing in Haaretz, “Odor of injustice fills the Negev: Israel’s government is a sort of hive of extremists; for this government, screwing the Arabs is a mitzvah.”
If I were prime minister, one who was worried about Israel’s independence, I would try to find a job for Lieberman in which the damage he could cause would be minimized. What is wrong with the Tourism Ministry, for example? In any case, the heart yearns for the sound of Lieberman’s complaints about the crime the Arabs committed when they stole the lands that did not belong to them.
Even Brent Sasley, who’s on the right of the spectrum at Open Zion, finds the New York Times’ take divorced from reality.
— Brent E. Sasley (@besasley) December 2, 2013