Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Danger Lurking at the Edge of Israeli Politics


Avigdor Leiberman is a scary guy. As head of Israel’s opposition "Yisrael Betaynu" party he advocates: getting rid of as many of Israel's Arab citizens as possible - by annexing most of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and "in return" giving Arab villages in Israel to the Palestinian Authority (whether the residence of these villages wanted this or not); applying the death penalty to any Israeli - including members of the Knesset - who talk to Hamas officials; by expelling Israeli Arabs who are not sufficiently "loyal" to the state; increasing Israel's military raids into Gaza; and by instituting a strong presidential system in Israel, an executive independent of the Knesset, similar to Putin's regime in Russia.

Leiberman's party is based in the Russian immigrant population in Israel, but its extreme nationalist positions have been growing in popularity. A recent poll shows them as the second most popular party in Israel today, and only 2% behind the more popular Likud party. The Knesset is about to begin debate on Leiberman's proposal fro a presidential system, and he is in negotiations with Prime Minister Olmert about entering the existing coaltion government.

The only thing more scary than Leiberman's ascendance is the thesis extended in the article below, by Gideon Levy:

"Peace-seekers should support the move to bring Avigdor Lieberman into the government. It is impossible to understand the opposition of several Labor party ministers to having Yisrael Beitenu join the government after all, just what precisely are they afraid will happen? That Israel will embark on an unnecessary war? That the settlement enterprise will be reinforced? That the government will reject Syria's peace proposal? That racism toward Arab citizens of Israel will increase, or that the occupation army will be cruel to the Palestinians?

Indeed, the government in its current constellation is already providing all of this, abundantly, and Lieberman's participation would only remove its camouflage...."

I don't want to believe it, but I'm not sure Levy is entirely wrong. To see the rest of this article, click here.

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