Lieberman arouses curiosity
Photo: Yael Branovsky
Photo: Herzel Yosef
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman has been seen as a "hot item" in recent weeks not only by the Israeli media, but also by the foreign press. From the big and popular networks like CNN, BBC and Sky, to local stations in Japan and Norway – everyone wants to know who the "rising star" in Israeli politics is, sending reporters to accompany him on tours and rallies.
Ol'a Kaplan of the Jiji Japanese news agency told Ynet that in her reports to Japan she explains that Lieberman is the biggest story of the Israeli elections.
"We wrote the Yisrael Beiteinu replaced the Likud, as the Likud softened too much and people with rightist views have no one to vote for. We explain that Yisrael Beiteinu is one of the Likud's variations and includes people who are popular among the Israeli public, like (former Minister) Uzi Landau and (former Israeli Ambassador to the United States) Daniel Ayalon."
What would happen should Arabs heed Lieberman's call, join IDF en masse?
According to Kaplan, Japanese people are very interested in the peace process and in what will happen "if Lieberman's party becomes part of the coalition and to what extent this may drive a wedge into the peace process."
She added that the Japanese were very fearful of a government which would include Lieberman but were also trying to remain optimistic, thinking that his approach may help rearrange the peace process.
As for the citizenship law proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu, the Japanese believe "it's slightly artificial and somewhat strange."
Ulla Terkelsen, a Danish television reporter, told Ynet, "Here everyone has heard about Tzipi Livni, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, but Lieberman is new and is very interesting, so we are trying to explain why people suddenly like him so much.
"He is definitely the story of these elections. He is very popular both among the Russian community and among native-born Israelis. Here people are still unfamiliar with his views, so the interest only rises. After the elections, the public in Denmark will know more and understand more."
The big jokerSissel Wold, who has been in Israel for five years now as the correspondent of a Norwegian news agency, said, "Lieberman is the big joker of these elections. Many people who are afraid of Arabs and are not in direct contact with them will vote for him.
"People in Norway are very interested in what is happening in the Middle East. The government invests a lot of money in Gaza, and then in the wars it is destroyed.
"Lieberman is interesting as a representative of the Russian community, which has become popular among everyone. We also heard from him about a transfer for the Arabs, so this is something else the Norwegians are interested in.
"The Norwegians want to know how the Israeli reality in Israel will change with time after the elections, so it's very important for me to understand it and convey the Israeli society's feelings," she added.