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The Schmooze

Did Israel’s Foreign Minister Make a Toilet Faux Pas?

The media in Israel expects the country’s controversial Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to be indicted by the end of the week on charges including fraud, breach of trust, money-laundering and obstruction of justice. But there’s a more immediate accusation facing Lieberman – transgression of telephone etiquette.

Yesterday, the radio station Reshet Bet was interviewing him, and all of a sudden, you heard something that sounded distinctly like a toilet flushing. Listen for yourself – you can hear the original audio in this clip posted by the Israeli news site Ynet.

Was this just a case of a politician with a busy schedule, or was he trying to communicate a message? He is known to feel that the Israeli media is pursuing him over the allegations he faces, so perhaps the flush was making a point about how he feels towards his interviewers. Or maybe he was making a point about the subject under discussion – the flush came just after he said of Hamas “we know whom we’re dealing with.”

This isn’t the first time that Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu, seems to have used manners – or the omission of manners – to make a point. In January 2010, when his deputy Danny Ayalon was angry with Turkey, he famously refused to shake the hand of Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv, when he arrived at the Foreign Ministry for a meeting, and then seated him on a conspicuously low sofa.

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