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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Uri Avnery: The Great Gamble

Iacta alea est - the die is cast - said Julius Caesar and crossed the River Rubicon on his way to conquer Rome. That was the end of Roman democracy. We Israelis don't have a Julius Caesar. But we do have an Avigdor Lieberman. When he announced his support the other day for the setting up of a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, that was the crossing of his Rubicon.

I hope that this is not the beginning of the end of Israeli democracy.

Until the last moment, Lieberman held the Israeli public in suspense. Will he join Netanyahu? Will he join Tzipi Livni?

Those who participated in the guessing game were divided in their view of Lieberman.

Some of them said: Lieberman is indeed what he pretends to be: an extreme nationalist racist. His aim is really to turn Israel into a Jewish state cleansed of Arabs - Araberrein, in German. He has only contempt for democracy, both in the country and in his own party. Like similar parties in the past, it is based on a cult of (his) personality, the worship of brute force, contempt for democracy and disdain for the judicial system. In other countries this is called fascism.

Others say: that is all a fa├žade. Lieberman is no Israeli Fuehrer, because he is nothing but a cheat and a cynic. Police investigations against him and his business dealings with Palestinians show him to be a corrupt opportunist. He is also a friend of Livni. He cultivates a fascist image in order to pave his way to power.

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