The Idea is to Prevent a War

Hat-tip to Gordo: Israel creates a new cabinet ministry, officially entitled “Ministry for Strategic Affairs.” It’s common for Israel to do such a thing; in 1999, it created a Ministry for Regional Development in order to give ex-Prime Minister Shimon Peres a job. This time it’s apparently serious, though, making the new minister, Avigdor Lieberman, the point man for dealing with Iran.

The best way to characterize Lieberman is to say that his views on foreign policy are built to make the USA’s Lieberman look like a pacifist. Avigdor Lieberman has called for first strike attacks on civilian targets, and went as far as advocating executing Arab members of the Knesset who don’t celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.

In 1984, when Kach won a single seat in the Knesset election, party leader Kahane’s rhetoric about depriving non-Jews of citizenship and forcibly removing all Arabs from Greater Israel scared so many people that the Knesset passed the closest thing in Israel to a constitutional amendment banning openly racist parties from participating in elections.

In 2006, Lieberman’s party, which advocates forced land transfers that would deprive unconsenting Arab-Israelis of their Israeli citizenship, and which has gotten into such racist scandals as the Independence Day hoopla, got 11 seats out of 120, and nobody raised an eyebrow.

The idea is to prevent a war with Iran, not to escalate it. I understand why conservative populists, whose entire political careers are staked on riling people up against an external enemy (see Ahmadinejad, Mahmoud), do everything in their power to provoke war. What I don’t understand is why the government is giving them the tools to not only shift the center in their radical direction, but also subvert the existing framework, which, while unjust, is better than a shooting war.

6 Responses to The Idea is to Prevent a War

  1. SLC says:

    1. Mr. Levys’ characterization of Avigdor Lieberman is not entirely correct and accurate. He has not advocated kicking Arabs off their land. What he has advocated is trading land currently mostly occupied by Arabs to the future Fakistinian state in exchange for the large settler blocks. Mr. Levy is factually correct that this would deprive those Arabs so traded of their Israeli citizenship. How can they object since they claim (with considerable justice) that they are second class citizens. They would be trading second class citizenship in Israel for first class citizenship in the Fakistinian state. Seems fair to me.

    2. Mr. Levy also accuses Avigdor Lieberman of advocating attacking civilian Arab targets. In fact, the latter has publicly stated (mistakenly in my opinion) that civilian causalties should be avoided, if possible. He has advocated premptive strikes on military targets, such as Irans’ nuclear facilities.

    3. The only way war with Iran can be avoided is if there is regime change in Iran which would remove whackjob Amadinejad and the mullahs behind him from power. Their objective is the removal of the State of Israel from the Middle East and there is no indication of any willingness on their part to abandon this objective.

  2. Your characterization of Liberman (which is accurate), is an exact match to every single member of the Palestinian cabinet. Liberman is not the problem but rather, a symptom. What caused the ascension of this man to power? What if not the state of public hysteria in post disengagement, post second war in lebanon Israel. The more the Israeli public is bent on ending the conflict ,the more the Arabs are bent on ending Israel. Google will free your mind my friend, nobody likes us. 🙂

    Assaf, Jerusalem.

  3. gordo says:


    My gues as to why Olmert’s party would welcome Lieberman is that he’s shoring up his base of support. Thanks to his history as a warrior and a hard-liner, Sharon could get away with defying the militant far right. Maybe Olmert doesn’t think he could retain power past the next election without appeasing appeasing them.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    The more the Israeli public is bent on ending the conflict ,the more the Arabs are bent on ending Israel.

    Which is why the majority of Palestinians support the two-state solution, and half of those who don’t want equal rights in a binational state; and why a large majority want Hamas to negotiate with Israel.

    Another interesting poll says, among other things, that both Israelis and Palestinians underestimate each other’s support for peace.

    Liberman is not the problem but rather, a symptom. What caused the ascension of this man to power? What if not the state of public hysteria in post disengagement, post second war in lebanon Israel.

    Well, it’s largely that. There’s always been a sizable nationalist contingent in Israel, but after Sharon established Kadima and Netanyahu destroyed Likud once again, they had to look for a party other than Likud. But that was only good for 11 seats; Lieberman is way more popular now.

  5. SLC says:

    1. Mr. Levy likes to quote polls. However, he avoids mentioning polls that don’t agree with his views, such as one which I pointed out to him several months ago as reported on by the Jerusalem Posts’ correspondent on Fakistinian affairs, KHALED ABU TOAMEH. He has yet to comment on this poll which contradicts his assertions in this thread.

    2. Lieberman is popular now because, unlike Olmert and the other wimps in the government, he shows toughness, at least verbally (Bibi also talks tough but acts like a wimp when in power). What is really needed is someone like Uzi Landau who does not carry the baggage that Lieberman does.

    3. Actually, if Mohammad Dahlan were to attain power in the Fakistinian territories, he and Lieberman should hit it off as they have much in common, both being thugs.

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