The dark side

No, I’m not pleased that Avigdor Lieberman‘s Yisrael Beiteinu party is joining Israel’s coalition government. I wish Labor party leader Amir Peretz had refused to go along with the deal, and I appreciate Ophir Pines-Paz’s act of conscience in quitting the government.

Lieberman’s talk of carving out a heavily-Arab part of Israel and making it part of a Palestinian state, without the approval of the residents, crosses all kinds of red lines. So does his talk of executing Arab Knesset members who have contacts with Hamas or who refuse to celebrate Israeli Independence Day. The chances of these things happening are close to zero, but the proposals themselves– whether serious or not– are repellent enough.

I expect this coalition will be about as stable as most of Israel’s previous government permutations– that is, not very.

Of course Israel haters will claim that by taking Lieberman into the coalition, the government is revealing its true fascist inclinations, etc., etc. Considering they said pretty much the same when Ariel Sharon became prime minister— and not just a small part (11 seats) of a large coalition (78 seats)– the alarm may be exaggerated. But Lieberman is surely someone from the demagogic dark side– sort of a right-wing Israeli version of George Galloway. In fact photographers for Haaretz and Scotland on Sunday seemed to pick up on a similar vibe.