+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Liberman to head of Joint List: You're not wanted here

Why is it that neither the debate host nor the heads of the other political parties stopped the foreign minister as he alluded to the expulsion of one out of every five Israelis?

By Oren Persico

Screenshot of Channel 2 debate.

Screenshot of Channel 2 debate.

When does staying silent become collaboration? Last Thursday, Channel 2 hosted a debate between the heads of all the major parties (aside from Netanyahu and Herzog). During the debate, Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman directed some pretty harsh language against Joint List head Ayman Odeh.

Liberman claimed that Odeh and his friends in the Joint List represent terrorist organizations and said they should be put on trial for incitement and sedition, in light of Odeh calling on young Arabs not to participate in Israel’s national service. When Odeh remarked that Arabs represent 20 percent of Israel’s citizens, Liberman responded, “for now.” Liberman continued referring to Odeh as a “fifth column” throughout the debate.

(Watch Liberman in Hebrew here.)

The following day, host Yonit Levy received much praise over her ability to keep the debate orderly and navigate a complex situation under previously-established rules. However, in the moments of truth, Levy remained almost entirely silent. It was close to the end, when every party head got the chance to ask another a question. Liberman used his time to turn to Ayman Odeh (without mentioning his name) and ask him the following questions:

Why are you in this studio rather than a studio in Gaza? Why are you running for the Israeli Knesset instead of being elected in Ramallah? Why are you even here. You are not wanted here. You are a Palestinian citizen, you identify as Palestinian, so go to Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] — he will pay your salary, your unemployment benefits, your convalescence, your laziness benefits.

Despite the fact that the party heads interrupted one another constantly, when Liberman told Odeh, “you are not wanted here,” no one cut him off. Not Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon (who condemned Liberman’s words later on in the debate), not Yesh Atid leader Yair “Zoabis” Lapid, not any of the other six Jewish elected officials who took part in the debate. No one said “stop it.” No one made clear that such rhetoric is unacceptable. The only person who responded to Liberman was host Yonit Levy, who only mae a factual correction: “He is an Israeli citizen, Mr. Liberman.”

Factual corrections are simply not enough in this case. In effect, Liberman called for expelling Odeh and his voters from Israel, and Levy did not even respond with a polite rejection, something along the lines of: “He is wanted here, we invited Ayman Odeh and we are happy that he came to the debate.” Liberman undermined the very basis of democracy on national television, and received only a limp response. Do we really need to imagine the prime minister of a European country telling the head of a Jewish party that he or she is “not wanted here” in order to understand how grave Liberman’s statement was?

Another debate is set to take place soon on Channel 1. If Liberman repeats those kinds of statements, the heads of the other parties will an opportunity to repair the impression they left in the last round, and defend Odeh’s right, and the right of his supporters, to continue living as Israeli citizens. If Liberman says “you are not wanted here” to the head of the Joint List, host Yaacov Eilon will have the opportunity to maintain a bit of the Israeli media’s respect, to stop the head of Yisrael Beiteinu and put him in his place.

Election banner - new

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. dekkers

      Too many blows to the head as a bouncer? What a racist nutcase. And what a loser, host who doesn’t dare or care to intervene. What sick people, Israelis must be proud.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      ‘Do we really need to imagine the prime minister of a European country telling the head of a Jewish party that he or she is “not wanted here” in order to understand how grave Liberman’s statement was?”

      Of course, there are now no Jewish political parties in Europe. Most of them disappeared with the Jewish Shtetl in Europe in the 1940s. But let us imagine for a second that the leader of a Jewish Political party in France representing 20% of France’s population called himself not a Frenchman but an Israeli and advocated that the Jewish population of France not contribute to the service of the state. Might other party leaders call this Jewish leader a traitor to the French Nation and tell him he is not wanted?

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Of course you have to go further than that and imagine that the members of this Jewish population were the original inhabitants of France. And several other things too. Half truths are more obscuring than illuminating here.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          The Jews were not strangers to the French state. Jews lived in Gaul during Roman times, under Frankish control and Charlemagne’s Carolingian Empire before and as the French state emerged. The French medieval state arose out of the Western part of the Carolingian Empire known as West Francia.

          Maybe you have even heard of some famous Jews in France like Rabbi Rashi in the 11th century C.E. famed as the author of the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Hebrew Bible. Even if you have not banked with the House of Rothschild you have probably drunk some of their wines.

          It is hard to believe that either Rabbi Rashi or the Rothschilds would have advised French Jews not to serve the French state and to commiserate with France’s enemies.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Let me comment on the two points you have made Pedro. (1) “Of course, there are now no Jewish political parties in Europe.” (2)”The Jews were not strangers to the French state”. The overwhelming majority of West European Jews are relatively recent immigrants from the east. Britain’s two major parties are led by men with a Jewish background. Labour’s Ed Miliband was born to immigrant parents. His mother, Marion Kozak, is a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust thanks to being protected by Poles, and his father, Ralph Miliband, was a Belgian-born Marxist academic of Polish Jewish origin who fled with his father to England during World War II. The conservative, David Cameron’s great-great-grandfather Emile Levita was a German Jewish financier, and a Levite, claiming descent from Moses, and his great-great-grandmother, was a descendant of the wealthy Danish Jewish family.

            Your far more important point about the absence of Jewish parties is simply a reflection of the pluralism of West European society where Jews, Christians, Atheists, Moslems, Sikhs and people from many other backgrounds are fully integrated into society, the economy and politics, in high contrast to the residential, occupational and political segregation within Israel. It is primitive and tribal that you have political parties partitioned by ethnic background (European Jews, Russian Jews, Mizrachi Jews, Non-Jews, religious parties and secular parties) and it is a sad legacy of the Zionism that has deliberately divided your society. It is even more squalid that you defend a recent immigrant from Moldova, who leads a party overwhelmingly composed of recent immigrants from the Soviet Union, who criticizes and seeks to displace a party grouping overwhelmingly composed of long-time indigenous inhabitants of the land.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Bryan: “The overwhelming majority of West European Jews are relatively recent immigrants”

            Actually the overwhelming majority of Jews in West Europe are a remnant of European Jewry destroyed in the death camps of Europe by Europeans.

            “the absence of Jewish parties is simply a reflection of the pluralism of West European society”

            Jewish parties like the Shtetls of Europe and European Jewry went up the smoke stacks of European pluralism

            # Auschwitz-Birkenau – Oswiecim-Brzezinka (extermination camp – 51 subcamps and external kommandos)
            # Belzec (extermination camp – 1 subcamp)
            # Bierznow
            # Biesiadka
            # Dzierzazna & Litzmannstadt (These two camps were “Jugenverwahrlage”, children camps. Hundreds of children and teenagers considered as not good enough to be “Germanized” were transferred to these places and later sent to the extermination centers)
            # Gross-Rosen – Rogoznica (77 subcamps and external kommandos)
            # Huta-Komarowska
            # Janowska
            # Krakow
            # Kulmhof – Chelmno (extermination camp – no sub-camp known)
            # Lublin (prison – no subcamp known)
            # Lwow (Lemberg)

            * Czwartaki
            * Lemberg

            # Maidanek (extermination camp – 3 subcamps)
            # Mielec
            # Pawiak (prison – no subcamp known)
            # Plaszow (work camp but became later subcamp of Maidanek)
            # Poniatowa
            # Pustkow (work camp – no subcamp known)
            # Radogosz (prison – no subcamp known)
            # Radom
            # Schmolz
            # Schokken
            # Sobibor (extermination camp – no subcamp known)
            # Stutthof – Sztutowo (40 subcamps and external kommandos)
            # Treblinka (extermination camp – no subcamp known)
            # Wieliczka
            # Zabiwoko (work camp – no subcamp known)
            # Zakopane
            # Akmétchetka
            # Balanowka
            # Bar
            # Bisjumujsje
            # Bogdanovka
            # “Citadelle”
            # Czwartaki
            # Daugavpils
            # Domanievka
            # Edineti
            # Kielbasin (or Kelbassino)
            # Khorol
            # Klooga
            # Lemberg
            # Mezjapark
            # Ponary
            # Rawa-Russkaja
            # Salapils
            # Strazdumujsje
            # Yanowski
            # Vertugen
            # Banjica
            # Brocice
            # Chabatz
            # Danica
            # Dakovo
            # Gornja reka
            # Gradiska
            # Jadovno
            # Jasenovac
            # Jastrebarsko
            # Kragujevac
            # Krapje
            # Kruscica
            # Lepoglava
            # Loborgrad
            # Sajmite
            # Sisak
            # Slano
            # Slavonska-Pozega
            # Stara-Gradiska
            # Tasmajdan
            # Zemun

            * Bergen-Belsen (probably 2 subcamps but location is unknown)
            * Börgermoor (no sub-camp known)
            * Buchenwald ( 174 subcamps and external kommandos)
            * Dachau (123 subcamps and external kommandos)
            * Dieburg (no sub-camp known)
            * Esterwegen (1 sub-camp)
            * Flossenburg (94 subcamps and external kommandos)
            * Gundelsheim (no sub-camp known)
            * Neuengamme (96 subcamps and external kommandos)
            * Papenburg (no sub-camp known)
            * Ravensbruck (31 subcamps and external kommandos)
            * Sachsenhausen (44 subcamps and external kommandos)
            * Sachsenburg (no sub-camp known)
            Mauthausen (49 subcamps and external kommandos)
            Breendonck (no sub-camp known)
            * Theresienstadt (9 external kommandos, 15,000 Jewish children)
            * Vivara
            * Kangasjarvi
            * Koveri
            # Argeles
            # Brens
            # Drancy
            # Gurs
            # Les Milles
            # Le Vernet
            # Natzweiler-Struthof (70 camps satellites et kommandos)
            # Noé
            # Récébédou
            # Rieucros
            # Rivesaltes
            # Suresnes
            # Thill
            # Abadla
            # Ain el Ourak
            # Bechar
            # Berguent
            # Bogari
            # Bouarfa
            # Djelfa
            # Kenadsa
            # Meridja
            # Missour
            # Tendrara
            * Amersfoort
            * Ommen
            * Vught
            o Arnhem
            o Breda
            o Eindhoven
            o Gilze-Rijen
            o ‘s Gravenhage (The Hague)
            o Haaren par Tilburg
            o Leeuwarden
            o Moerdijk
            o Rozendaal
            o Sint Michielsgestel
            o Valkenburg par Leiden
            o Venlo (Luftwaffe airfield)
            * Westerbork (transit camp)
            * Bolzano
            * Fossoli
            * Risiera di San Sabba (no sub-camp known)
            * Riga
            * Riga-Kaiserwald
            * Dundaga
            * Eleje-Meitenes
            * Jungfernhof
            * Lenta
            * Spilwe
            * Kaunas
            * Aleksotaskowno
            * Palemonas
            * Pravieniskès
            * Volary
            * Baerum
            * Berg
            * Bredtvet
            * Falstadt
            * Tromsdalen
            * Ulven

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Pedro – for goodness sake make your mind up what you are actually arguing. You started by saying that France’s Jews had been there for many centuries. I disagreed and said that most West European Jews were more recent and came only in the modern era. I could for instance have mentioned Oliver Cromwell’s 1651 liberalization of immigration policy in to attract the rich Jews of Amsterdam to London so that they might transfer their important trade interests with the Spanish Main from Holland to England, or I could have cited the many attempts to attract Jewish financiers in the eighteenth century in order to fund European Wars, or I could have cited substantial Jewish immigration to London in the late 19th / early 20th century (140,000 coming from the east to augment an English Jewish population of only 46,000 in 1882).

            Now you go off on one about most West European Jews being survivors of the death camps and the Holocaust (which had a devastating effect on the Jewish population of Eastern and Central Europe but much less so in Western Europe) being the responsibility of “Europeans in general. British Jewry increased from 300,000 in 1933 to 450,000 in 1945 due to generous asylum, and even for occupied France from 225,000 to 235,000. Some West European countries went to great lengths to protect their Jews. For instance:
            Only around 1000 Belgian Jews were deported (compared with 27,500 Jews without Belgian nationality) out of a total of 66,000 Jews (mostly without Belgian citizenship) resident in 1940.
            24,000 French nationals and nearly 50,000 non-French nationals were sent to the East, because of efforts by the Vichy government to protect its nationals.
            “As is well known, the Nazis did not succeed in deporting the Danish Jews to the extermination camps. In October 1943 the large majority of the Danish Jews succeeded in escaping to neutral Sweden.” The same applied to the majority of the small number of Norwegian Jews.
            The gentile population of Holland harboured a large proportion of Dutch Jewry to protect them from the Nazis.
            “In September 1943 the Italians withdrew from the war, but the Germans responded by occupying the country. As a consequence, the Nazi occupation power tried to carry out the deportation of the Italian Jews, but with no great success. At the end of 1944, a “mere” 5,000 Jews had been deported to Auschwitz. Around 80% of the Italian Jews survived the war.”
            “Finland was allied to Germany for one reason only: to fight against the Soviet occupation of a large part of their country. Around 2,000 Jews lived in Finland, and the Finns had no intention to surrender them to the Germans. Probably due to the very small number of Jews, the Germans refrained from pushing the issue in the face of Finnish opposition. All Finnish Jews survived the war.”

            See: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005687 and http://www.holocaust-education.dk/holocaust/deportationer.asp

            Reply to Comment
      • Empiricon

        Pedro skips right over the logic of the question to The H Card. No need to be moral or logical when you can play that – and keep playing it in every post. Godwin’s law needs updating – used to take a while to get to it, but as the racism in Israel becomes so dominant and open, there is little left for Pedro et al to play BUT The H Card, so it’s now the opening bid.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Brian

      Gideon Levy:

      “…Just imagine: The Joint List is the third largest party in the Knesset. The coalition belongs to Netanyahu, Herzog and Yair Lapid. Odeh is selected leader of the opposition – the heir of Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Shamir, Ehud Barak, Netanyahu, all prime ministers who held the position at one point.

      The prime minister is obligated to brief him on security and diplomatic matters, “no less than once a month,” by law. The law requires him to address the Knesset after every speech by the premier. Foreign heads of state meet with him and listen to his views. As a symbol of government, he is protected by the Shin Bet security service. Perhaps for the first time in its history, Israel has a true leader of opposition.

      A few stereotypes will be shattered in a single, not-imaginary act that might also usher in a deep change in consciousness.

      Odeh could surprise us yet, as he already surprised many Israelis who were not even aware of the existence of the combinations “Arab and impressive,” “Palestinian and charming.” His party must get a lot of votes for this process to begin. His friends must support him and many Jews must choose the Israeli ANC, which could yet prove it has what it takes to prevent the establishment of a second apartheid state, the apartheid state of the Land of Israel.”

      Reply to Comment
    4. Liberman was telling the audience how to think, how to behave, and the host and the other candidates were doing the same: by their silence they were telling Israelis (Jewish Israelis) that it is correct (or most prudent) to be silent in face of expliit racism. In America (1800-1960?) lynching (torture/murder) of blacks by whites in the South was common went generally uncriticized, even joined as a participation sport or viewed by crowds as a spectacle ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching_in_the_United_States ); and we all know about the rampages in Germany (1930s) of Brown-Shirts (“SA”) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmabteilung “), as to which prudent observers were generally silent.

      In my opinion, it is but a short distance (dowen a “slippery slope”) from unopposed hate speech to racist violence and, in Germany then and in Israel now, also to racist legislation. Jews know this, and the hair-trigger response to perceived antisemitism on the part of many Jews is a sign of this knowledge, knowledge of the slippery slope.

      It appears that, in Israel today, Jewish candidates feel a need not to speak out against anti-Arab (and anti-Black) racism. “First they came for the Arabs, and no-one objected. Then they came for the liberals, and still no-one objected.” Etc.

      As to “incitement”, what does Liberman do, other than incite, when he suggests “transfer” of Israeli Arabs to Gaza and West Bank?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      Funny: A Moldovan landed immigrant tells a native Israeli he is not wanted in Israel.

      Reply to Comment