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.