Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's All About Avigdor (Updated)

Jeffrey Goldberg writes at The Atlantic about the consequences of Netanyahu having Avigdor Lieberman in his coalition:
I know Avigdor Lieberman a little bit, and he's actually a person interested in a cold compromise with the Palestinians. It's a disaster because he's made himself into a racist. The language he uses to describe Israeli Arabs is despicable, and self-destructive, because the key to Israel's future (well, one key at least) is the total enfranchisement of Israel's Arab minority, not its disenfranchisement.

...This is the man who is going to be Israel's public face. The appointment is a gift to those who believe that Israel is nothing more than South Africa on the Med.

Goldberg, however, does not put the blame on Bibi--there are 2 reasons this situation: an institition and a person other than Netanyahu:

Israel's dysfunctional politics are largely to blame. In the American system, a person like Lieberman would be marginalized. In the Israeli system, the Liebermans rise to the inner cabinet. This is also, I must say, Tzipi Livni's fault. She could have joined a unity government and kept her job as foreign minister. But that would have been in the best interests of the State of Israel, rather than the Kadima Party, so her decision is, in retrospect, obvious. [emphasis added]

Netanyahu will have his chance to be Prime Minister again--we will see what he will do with it.

Via Memeorandum, you can see that Andrew Sullivan also reacts to Andrew Goldberg's post.

Sullivan calls Lieberman "anti-Arab racist"--and then compares him with Begin, Reagan and Nixon in terms of his potential ability to make "cold-blooded capacity to make some tough deals"

Sullivan also buttresses his claim that Lieberman is a racist by quoting from a Haaretz poll that

Sixty-eight percent of Israeli Jews would refuse to live in the same apartment building as an Israeli Arab

According to Sullivan, Lieberman and Israelis in general have "attitudes not unlike that of the Jim Crow South"--attitudes not on the fringe of Israeli society.

There is no mention made of the number of Southerners (especially women and children) murdered by African-American terrorists.

UPDATED: David J. Rothkopf cheerfully writes that as a result of the US seeking to be conciliatory to Iran while placating the Palestinian Arabs, Bibi and Lieberman "will say and do inflammatory things":

The upside of the overall trend: the U.S. is perceived as more balanced in the region. The downside: the U.S.-Israel relationship is likely to weaken (I know some of you may see that as an upside)...oh, and also, possibly, nuclear Armageddon. The upside on having Netanyahu and Lieberman in charge: they establish a strong negotiating position for Israel. Only Begin could have met with Sadat. The downside: the marginalization of Israel as a legitimate political voice in the region (I know some of you think that has already occurred)...oh, and also, possibly nuclear Armageddon. Have a nice day.

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