The Lovable Man?
By URI AVNERY
"In its original German form - Liebermann - the name means "lovable man". It is hard to imagine a name less appropriate for the new Deputy Prime Minister of Israel.
He is not lovable, neither in his personality nor in his views - and that is the understatement of the year.
His personal lovability can be judged by the fact that he was once arrested for beating up a boy who had quarreled with his son.
This week, the arrival of Liberman at the center of the political system marks the start of a new chapter in the annals of the State of Israel.The time is not accidental. In all the 56 years of its existence, Israeli democracy has never been at such a low point as it is today.
So he advocates Transfer, the expulsion of the Arab citizens from Israel. He threatened to destroy Egypt by blowing up the Aswan Dam. He demanded the execution of the Israeli Arab Knesset members for meeting with Syrian and Hamas leaders. So what? Rehavam Ze'evi, whose memory was honored this week by a special commemoration session of the Knesset, proposed ethnic cleansing, and General Effi Eytam, the chief of the National Union party, uses similar language.
Such a person should not be allowed to enter the government? Why not? After all, Liberman has already been a member of the government, and so had Ze'evi and Eytam.
The Liberman party is quite different from the fictitious Kadima Party and the decomposing Labor Party. It is organized on military lines, with Liberman as its one, unquestioned leader. It has organized most of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and is expanding into other communities, too. It appeals to the poor and downtrodden. It resembles the Bolshevik party that Liberman knew as a young man in the Soviet Union. (To coin a formula: Bolshevism minus Marxism equals Fascism.)
When the democratic system arouses public contempt, and when the view that "all politicians are crooks" and "the system is rotten to the core" is gaining ground, such a person is a real danger to democracy.
But the general public does not seem shocked, either. Here and there some articles did appear, but they did not point out the existential danger threatening the Israeli republic. Even the Arab public in Israel, whose very existence is menaced by Liberman, has not set in motion a real protest. On the 1976 "Land Day", when the Arab citizens protested against the expropriation of their land, it looked different. As it did in October 2000, when the Israeli Arab public protested against a suspected threat to the al Aqsa mosque.
What is the reason for this weak reaction, which is so like the last days of the Weimar republic?"