Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Far Right - Too Right!

So Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu have joined Olmert's coalition of has-beens and wannabes. Immediately, the BBC et al have taken great pleasure in describing Mr Lieberman as "far Right", as if he is somehow comparable to the BNP or Combat 18. Surely not another attempt to typecast Israelis as Zionazis?

It is clear that he has some unusual and superficially extreme policies. He would like to see a two-state solution, one for Jews and one for Arabs. This varies slightly from most people's idea of the two-state solution, which is one for Jews and Arabs, and one for Arabs. I certainly prefer the principle of Lieberman's version, even if the practice is harsh. He advocates unilaterally and one would imagine therefore forcibly hiving off Israeli Arab areas into Palestinian control, and keeping the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria in return.

Personally, I would advocate a plebiscite of Israeli Arabs, allowing those living in areas contiguous with the Green Line to "opt in" to a Palestinian state at any point, and allowing others to make decisions as entire communities to relocate in a population exchange with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. In particular, I would like to see this being strongly incentivised in the dozen or so villages between Route 1 and Route 443, to allow safe and secure passage to Jerusalem from the rest of Israel, not to mention easing traffic problems on Route 1 and helping the express rail link.

But anyway, Mr Lieberman has a whole range of other interesting policies which seem to have escaped the notice of Western journalists, who are busy licking their lips at how they can describe a government including Yisrael Beitenu as promoting ethnic cleansing, genocide and such like. Funny, the Guardian and Independent have been doing their best to talk Hamas up as an appropriate government with which we should all be talking and doing business, but a group who are merely suggesting giving Israeli Arabs (or Palestinian-Israelis as I have seen many such media describe them) their own place in an Arab state, without the inconvenience of leaving their homes.

You will notice that on Yisrael Beintenu's website, this policy barely makes it into the top 10. Lieberman is also into sensible economic policy and the promotion of law and order.

As if to reinforce the reasoning behind Mr Lieberman's most famous policy, an Israeli Arab used the advantage of his Israel numberplates to help a carload of Palestinian terrorists, complete with a stack of explosives, to enter the country, and were en route to a target when security forces acted on a tip-off and set up a roadblock, resulting in miles of gridlock but the successful capture of the group.

It is difficult to argue with Mr Lieberman's logic that Israeli Arabs on the whole represent a growing demographic threat to Israel's national character as a Jewish state. Unfortunately there has been an increase in open disloyalty to the state in the form of aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorists. And economically it has to be pointed out that despite the usual tedious assertions of institutional discrimination against them, the Arab community in Israel actually receives more per capita than most sections of the Jewish population, yet much seems to be squandered by local leaders rather than spent on municipal improvements, hence Arab villages tend to look shabbier than Jewish neighbourhoods, despite the focused investment.

However, I believe that there is a place for non-Jews in Israel - in fact, I think it is intrinsic to Israel's national character. We must learn from our own experience that it is not enough to be a tolerated minority, but that we thrive and contribute most when allowed to do so in the right way. Equally we should learn from the underwhelming statistics of minorities in European countries (rife crime and unemployment, staggeringly disproportionate burdens on the state, low education and health etc), and ensure the right blend of carrots and sticks is in place.

So I urge you to reserve judgement on Lieberman for the time being. It would only take the slightest mellowing of his policy (otherwise known as dilution by coalition) for it to become not just palatable but the natural successor to the Disengagement, with the lessons learned about who you are supposed to disengage from whom.

1 comment:

Ofer said...

Hey there, long time no see. I've been worried about you mate :) don't just disapear like that you have responsabilities here!!!
Anyhow, I just started studying in Haifa Uni. as you must know , lots of arrabs there, one in my mother class is called Osama, a nice little fellow, the other day our teacher took Lieberman's issue as an example for something, than someone yelled as a joke "He should BE IN" .. Osama smiled a bit and yelled back "No he shouldn't!"
That sort of made me understand the wonderfull opportunity I've been given to interact with Israeli arrabs and maybe get a cleared view of the arrab mentality.
24 in Israel and I yet to expirience that, shame really but better late than never ey? :)

Also, I've been meaning to ask you something, consult with you for you seem to be very good at presenting arguments, my email is someonok@hotmail.com
I would appreciate a contact if you can spare the time.