The Lieberman Question

Editorial

Published December 29, 2010, issue of January 07, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

What are Diaspora Jews to make of Avigdor Lieberman? In his latest outburst before 170 of Israel’s senior diplomats, the pugnacious, rebellious foreign minister called the Palestinian Authority illegitimate, the Turkish prime minister a liar, and ridiculed the central policy of his own government.

This is nothing new, of course. In September, Lieberman delivered such an outlandish and offensive speech before the United Nations that it was quickly disowned by the prime minister’s office, purportedly his boss. Imagine if Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton went before the U.N. and advocated, oh, bombing North Korea. Think she’d be in office for very long?

Lieberman’s tenure in such a prominent position has been dismissed as an embarrassing annoyance by most Diaspora leaders, a necessary burden to ensure that his Yisrael Beiteinu party remains in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Besides, the inner workings of Netanyahu’s government are arguably not our right to influence, no more than Israelis should have a say in who is U.S. Attorney General or mayor of New York.

But if Netanyahu persists in keeping Lieberman, both men should know this: The obligation we assume as Diaspora Jews to support Israel and combat delegitimization becomes much harder, more distasteful and less effective every time the foreign minister opens his mouth. It betrays our Judaic and civic values to stand by while such a man advocates for the transfer of Arab citizens of Israel, for a discriminatory loyalty oath, for an endless postponement of peace negotiations that are the only — the only — way to ensure that Israel remains Jewish and democratic.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an editorial December 28 excoriating the foreign minister, arguing that “Lieberman and his pronouncements only provide vindication to Israel’s adversaries.” For that reason, the paper declared, he must go.

As supporters, and not citizens, we don’t assume the right to call for his resignation. But as supporters, it is our right to distance ourselves from his offensive words and to remind the world that he certainly does not speak for us. American Jewish communal organizations are now spending millions of dollars to combat what is perceived to be a new, aggressive attempt to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state. That is money that could be used at home to feed the hungry, educate our young, care for the sick and elderly and ensure the future of Israel’s most vibrant, important friend. We don’t stop loving Israel because of Avigdor Lieberman. But he makes it damn hard to support his government.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.