Fisk Misses the Target
By Israel Shamir
The great British journalist Robert Fisk wrote a few days
Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East.
Fisk is usually wonderful and knowledgeable, but now he was mistaken. He’s got
carried away by Lieberman-bashing, this popular pastime of Left Zionists. Indeed
you may condemn Lieberman and still be admitted by every Jewish and Zionist
organisation – precisely because Lieberman (and other hardcore Jewish
nationalists) is of little importance.
There is a worse thing that happens in the Middle East right
now, and that is Ehud Barak, the Labour Party leader, as a Defence Minister in
Netanyahu government. While a narrow right-wing government of Netanyahu and
Lieberman would be a world pariah, isolated and hesitant, the same government
with Ehud Barak at a top slot will be fully accepted by the international
community. Now, overcoming objections,
Barak had forced his decimated party to join the government coalition. He
will stay as the Defence Minister, with disastrous consequences for the region.
Ehud Barak is the man who just a few months ago attacked
Gaza; he is fully responsible for the
atrocities committed there. While Avigdor Lieberman’s talk is certainly
irresponsible and panders to the worst instincts of Israelis, his bark is
considerably worse than his bite. Ehud Barak
heaped scorn on Lieberman for never having actually shot anyone. He never
squeezed trigger in anger, quipped Barak, while he did.
Indeed, Barak, Livni and Netanyahu are united by their past:
all three were (are?) professional assassins. Livni, as we had learned just
before the Election Day,
served in the Kidon, the Mossad assassination unit. She was a professional
killer, and allegedly poisoned an Arab scientist at a Paris lunch. Barak made
his name renown when he
murdered an unarmed civilian, a Palestinian poet Kamal Nasir in Beirut.
Netanyahu served in Sayeret Matkal, the Tsahal assassination unit.
Naturally Lieberman has to be more violent in his talk in
order to compete with these murderers for the public attention. But he still
killed nobody. All his threats were just so much of hot air aimed for internal
You do not have to rely upon my opinion: the ex-chairman of
Meretz, Mr Yossi Beilin
revealed that the PNA strongman
Mohammed Dahlan told him: “there are two people the Israeli peace camp doesn't
understand and is missing out on big time: Aryeh Deri and Avigdor Lieberman.
These two could be the key to peace, but instead of drawing them closer, you are
pushing them away.” Indeed, the Moroccans under Deri and the Russians under
Lieberman could come to peace with Palestinians, if the ruling minority, white
Ashkenazi old-timers’ elite would ever consider peace a real option. An
important task for free media is to unmask the real obstacle to peace and to
avoid falling into the trap of scapegoating an outsider, Lieberman.
Meanwhile, it is Barak (rather than Lieberman or Netanyahu)
presents the great and immediate danger to the region. Clear-sighted Hebrew poet
reminded in Haaretz:
“It was only during Netanyahu's
term as prime minister that Israel did not embark on any operation of razing
villages and towns, including killing civilians, like Operation Accountability
(1993), Operation Grapes of Wrath (1996), the Second Lebanon War (2006) and
Operation Cast Lead - all wars by center-left governments.
Benjamin Netanyahu is always reminded of one sin: opening the
Western Wall Tunnel in 1996. On the other hand, he is never reminded that the
violent confrontation did not deteriorate into a bloodbath …it did not become
another operation that resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands of people
handicapped and a multitude of refugees.
Four years after the Western Wall Tunnel incident in the fall of 2000, Ehud
Barak, the angel of peace who rose to power with the left's overwhelming support
in order to get rid of the "warmongering Netanyahu," took advantage of Ariel
Sharon's provocation at the Temple Mount. Barak ordered the army to pull out one
of its pre-prepared plans and suppress what turned into the second intifada.
The half a million rounds during the first months of the intifada, even before
the suicide bombings started, were fired on orders of a government of the left.
And the leftists - in the street, in academia and in the literary world -
continued to support Barak and his war.”
Far from being a fascist, Lieberman carries out a
secular-liberal agenda. Shahar Ilan of Haaretz
advised the leftist Meretz to turn to “the secular public
of the middle class, those for whom the separation of religion and state,
religious coercion, the discrimination along bloodlines, and the Haredi
extortion trouble it no less than the peace process… those who voted for Nir
Barkat, those who conquered Jerusalem with a bang and swept away Haredi rule in
the city… The list of the oppressed of Israeli society
includes 300,000 who are not affiliated with any religion, cannot marry here and
whose path to Judaism is blocked by the rabbinical establishment. It includes
hundreds of thousands of couples who divorce and are forced to endure a
humiliating process in the rabbinical courts.”
These people did not go to Meretz – they
went to Lieberman and to his secular-liberal banner. This is not a value
judgment: secularism can be cruel enough, as it was under Lenin and Ataturk. Nir
Barkat, the new secular-liberal Mayor of Jerusalem, began his term by destroying
Arab houses in Silwan. Another secular-liberal voice,
Mr Nehemia Shtrasler of Haaretz, called the child allowances “anti-Zionist”
as 40% of the funds went to the Arabs, and 60% to observant Jews.
Lieberman is rather a comic figure. His stunt of demanding
that Palestinians swear loyalty to the Jewish state was lifted wholesale from
Catch-22. “All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a
loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty
oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third
loyalty oath for the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the
squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around
there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get
their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their
hair cut by the Italian barbers.” This proposal of Lieberman had no chance to
succeed, bit it gave Lieberman a hefty share of publicity.
Why an experienced reporter Fisk made these mistakes of
judgment? He had heard Lieberman refers to Chechnya as to a positive example,
and understood it as a threat: “behave, or we shall do to you what the Russians
did to Chechens”. Mistake again: the Palestinians would love to find themselves
in the position of the Chechens.
The bloody and cruel Moscow’s campaign against Chechnya
separatists should not obscure the advantages of the Chechens: they are citizens
of Russia; they are free to move all over Russia and go abroad and come back.
There are Chechens in many top spots in Russia, including the ex-Parliament
Speaker. The majority of Palestinians has no citizenship of Israel and can’t
move or work, or even travel abroad. Among others,
preventing the director general of the Palestinian human rights organization
Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin, from travelling to the Netherlands to accept a prize.
The Supreme Court
confirmed the Shin Bet's decision. The Chechens travel freely; Chechnya is
not a Bantustan; the Chechens enjoy support of the West, as opposed to the
Fisk compares Lieberman with the Yugoslav Serb leaders.
Again, a hollow comparison. Many accusations against the Yugoslav Serbs were
debunked by marvelous Diana Johnstone, while the crimes committed in the
Balkans by the British, German and American bombers became well known. Fisk
calls Lieberman “a Russian nationalist”, but this shows only the eternal British
suspicion of Russians.
Lieberman is not a dreamboat; but he is not an ogre as
presented by the Israeli elites, and anyway he is of little importance. We
should rather fear mainstream Israeli politicians, first of all Ehud Barak, who
is likely to attack Iran in order to stay in power.