Liberman’s political maneuvering may just bring about King Bibi’s downfall, but that doesn’t mean secular liberals should forget the reasons they opposed him all these years.
Avigdor Liberman has, over the past decade, exerted a greater impact on Israel’s political discourse than any other lawmaker. In just a few years, he made once unthinkable ideas — such as stripping Palestinian citizens of their citizenship and forcing them to swear oaths of loyalty to the Jewish state — part of the mainstream discourse.
Today, Israeli liberals and their intelligentsia are ready to ignore or brush aside Liberman’s racist, hyper-nationalist remarks and polices, while crowning him the savior of Israeli democracy. Writing in Haaretz, the newspaper that represents Israel’s secular liberal elite, Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn calls for Liberman, who torpedoed Netanyahu’s coalition building efforts by refusing to bring his party into the government and pushed the country into another election, to replace the prime minister — or, at the very least, to enter into a power-sharing agreement.
Raviv Drucker, one of Israel’s most prominent columnists, and one of Netanyahu’s most outspoken critics in the media, said in a radio interview that he would be voting for Liberman in the upcoming elections. Meanwhile Haaretz‘s Chemi Shalev calls Liberman an “anti-hero” who could “save Israeli democracy from self-destruction” by bringing about Netanyahu’s political demise.
Just a decade ago it would have been impossible to imagine someone like Liberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu party represents older Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel, becoming one of the country’s most powerful political players — let alone the hope of Israel’s secular liberals. Today his party has only five seats in the Knesset, but Liberman has amassed so much power that he can bring down a government by refusing to compromise on the issue of exempting ultra-Orthodox men from military conscription, which he knows is non-negotiable for the ultra-Orthodox parties on whose support Netanyahu depends.Read More