Photo: Channel 2
Yaron London
Photo: Channel 2
Lieberman's 'vision' flawed
Right-wing leader articulates grand ideas but ignores 'trivial' details

The Russians are the most intelligent and dynamic ethnic group in the Israeli population. Yisrael Beteinu has taken over the Russian street and Avigdor Lieberman rules his party freely.  


This is not the only reason he is thought to be an interesting character; it is also because contrary to other politicians he actually bothers to formulate his ideas and put them in writing.


This is not incidental: Russian history is a history of ideas. It was driven by manifestos and great literature that brought about political change. Lieberman, who was born in Moldova, is no more Russian than I am Ukrainian (my father comes from there,) but just as Israeli-born offspring of my generation were influenced by the cultural climate in which their parents were raised, Lieberman was influenced by the world in which he grew up.


Reality is complex

What else typifies Lieberman's thought process besides developing big ideas? A man who was educated in the former USSR thinks of policies in terms of a superpower. He remembers the USSR collapsing after its ability to rule over all its subjects waned. He has absorbed strong nationalist sentiments whose origins lie in Russian nationalism and Russian anti-Semitism. All these elements can be found in the thought process of the Yisrael Beteinu leader.


He has common sense. However, his problem is that reality is more complex. He is aware of this and therefore labels his ideas "visions" - a master plan that can be drafted without going into details that may undermine it. Other politicians are perturbed by trivial matters and do not raise their heads to look at the horizon. Without doubting his sincerity it may be said that a "vision" is a convenient way of avoiding the unease of answering tough questions.


For example, rather than deliberating over questions pertaining to the relations between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority, Lieberman proposes "trading" Arab-Israeli communities in northern Israel in exchange for Jewish West Bank settlements.


Contrary to the accusations leveled at him by his rivals, this is not a racist idea, yet even a superficial examination will show that it is inapplicable and does not contribute to the designated goal.


It is impossible to draw the border in a manner that corresponds to the objective at the basis of this proposal.


The demographic benefit deriving from it is small. It is impossible to coerce Israeli citizens to relinquish their citizenship, their source of livelihood, and ties formulated over 60 years of neighborly relations, and subjugate them to the rule of the Palestinian Authority where only a few wish to live. There is no need to ponder these disturbing details when formulating a "vision."


Unanswered questions in Gaza

A similar attitude in Lieberman's problem-solving effort is also evident in his Gaza vision formulated in cooperation with Knesset Member Israel Hasson. The two are suggesting that all ties with Gaza be severed, while letting this narrow strip of land where Palestinians live fend for itself, as though it were an independent state.


Such change would ease the limits on our response to acts of aggression, because response to an attack by a neighboring state is free of the implications currently weighing us down.


How can a state be founded in the chaos prevailing in Gaza? The answer is: NATO forces will maintain order and the European community will invest in it and transform it into a sort of Hong Kong. Israel would cease to supply Gaza with water and electricity and would avoid any connection between itself and the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.


Can Israel base a vision on the assumption that the Europeans will agree to send their children to die in Gaza? Would they invest their money? Would Gazans drink water shipped from Turkey? Do Gazans possess the national character traits that made the Chinese prosper?


In addition, how would besieged Gaza maintain ties with the outside world and how would it import and export goods? What would Egypt say?. Do we have the ability to create two states, Gaza and the West Bank? And until the Europeans come, will we starve and deprive water from the Gazans and subject them to epidemics? And how would we attack the State of Gaza while the Europeans are in power?


Lieberman's vision doesn't deal with these "trivialities" and he holds in contempt anyone asking these tough questions.


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