Scary? Avigdor Lieberman
Photo: AFP
Is he really that terrible?
Why is Avigdor Lieberman being presented as a mad fanatic all of a sudden?

I’m scared of advocacy journalism. I was scared when the media overwhelmingly endorsed the Oslo Accord, I was bothered by the media’s endorsement of the disengagement plan, and I am shocked by what is currently being done to Avigdor Lieberman.


The police investigation against him was merely the opening shot. After all, it is clear that nobody else would be subjected to this kind of thing – detaining all the close associates of an important Knesset contender. This was an anti-democratic move.


Yet it is not only about the police. It is also about the media. Gilad Erdan, who is worthy of being a senior minister in the next government, told me something thought-provoking the other day: Notice how Avigdor Lieberman, when he is part of a Kadima government, is considered a pragmatic individual, yet when he intends to join a rightist government, he is being demonized and is suddenly considered to be a mad fanatic.


Let’s admit it: In recent weeks, the media has enlisted in the effort to stop Lieberman. Legendary newscaster Haim Yavin explained that Lieberman is the successor of Kahane. Opinion pieces slam what they refer to as this fascist phenomenon, and biased journalists write about ridiculous figures found at the bottom of his Knesset roster (as if everyone in Labor, Kadima, and Likud is a genius.) Meanwhile, everywhere and near every microphone, people are wondering how this Avigdor, who is being presented as a type of Mussolini by satire shows on TV, was able to draw so many voters.


Heavy Russian accent

Yet I ask the following question: Did anyone even check what Avigdor promises in his platform? Did any of his critics deeply examine his interesting plan for territorial tradeoffs? Did anyone even notice that Avigdor, who is being presented as a dangerous rightist, is actually in favor of settlement blocs and handing over east Jerusalem neighborhoods to the Palestinians, while enthusiastically supporting an alternative to Orthodox marriages?


Yet all those things, which sound so enlightened when they are uttered by others, don’t help Lieberman. After all, he has a rather heavy Russian accent and a look that is not very soft, and that’s enough to describe him as a dangerous phenomenon and present him in a disparaging light.


And yes, even though I do not like his “Without loyalty there is no citizenship” campaign, it is worthwhile to seriously address this issue, which apparently bothers quite a few people in Israel – the question of loyalty. It is indeed not fashionable to say this among the media elite, yet it appears that many Israeli citizens are alarmed by the fact that some other Israeli citizens support Hamas.  


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