Israel: Netanyahu replies to Officers’ charges of Fascism, makes far Right Lieberman their boss

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bolstered his majority and rid himself of a troublesome voice of conscience Thursday by appointing the extremist Avigdor Lieberman minister of defense. This move strengthened Netanyahu’s hand politically, removing a critic in the form of Moshe Yaalon, the previous minister of defense. But it also sent a signal to Israel’s officer corps, which has been showing distinct unease at Netanyahu’s march of the country into Mussolini territory.

Part of the dispute is over the cold-blooded murder allegedly committed by a 19-year-old Israeli soldier with an extremist background, who was caught on camera killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant, Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif. Sharif had committed a knife attack before being incapacitated and searched. The video showed Azarya rushing back over, shouting angrily, and shooting the prostrate twenty-one year old in the head.

The Israeli officer corps insisted that Azarya be tried for manslaughter, apparently over the objections of Netanyahu, who called the soldier’s parents and expressed sympathy for him. The far, far-right Lieberman led a virulent campaign on behalf of Azarya.

This incident, and the extremist Israeli attacks on Palestinians, so alarmed deputy chief of staff 3Maj. Gen. Yair Golan that he went so far as to liken the “sickening” processes he saw taking place in Israel to Nazi Germany in the 1930s (note: not the 1940s, when the Holocaust took place).

Netanyahu rebuked the general, but Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon backed him. He gave his own speech in which he said that Israelis must comprehend the limits of power and “meticulously safeguard our purity of arms and our humanity, not lose our heads, … eradicate racism, violence, verbal and physical attacks on women and exclusion of the other.”

Netanyahu has now replaced Yaalon (a man of the right himself) with Avigdor Lieberman, who has been accused of racism. Lieberman once talked about destroying the Aswan Dam and sweeping 80 million Egyptians into the Mediterranean. He is in favor of expelling Palestinian-Israelis from Israel and taking away their citizenship unless they swear fealty to a Jewish state. He has been shadowed for years by corruption allegations, which even went to trial inconclusively. Lieberman, who wants to move around millions of Palestinians whose families have been living in the area from time immemorial, is a fairly recent immigrant from Moldova. In his youth, there, he worked as bouncer in a club.

This is no ordinary cabinet reshuffle. It is another step taken by the Israeli leadership into the dark side, as even its top generals recognize. Putting the civilian Lieberman, who has no particular military experience, over people like Gen. Golan as their boss sends the signal that the officer corps is to sit down and shut up, and let Netanyahu continue to move Israeli politics in the Mussolini direction.

Israeli journalists are fearful of criticizing Netanyahu. Rivals have accused him of trying to control the media. Human and civil rights in Israel and especially in the Occupied Territories where millions of Palestinians live, stateless, under Israeli military rule or under siege, and worsening by the month.

Netanyahu’s appointment drew forth a lot of hand wringing in the Israeli centrist and left of center press.

BBC Monitoring translated Yossi Verter, who wrote in Haaretz,

“Even in terms of the devoid of shame, morals and reins Israeli politics, the day which began with talk about a regional peace conference conducted by Buji Herzog and ended with the proposal to appoint the neighbourhood thug, Avigdor Lieberman, as defence minister, was one of the maddest and unexpected. The dismissal of Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon from his office at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv can have only one logical explanation: Binyamin Netanyahu’s growing fear of the imaginary axis Ya’alon-Eizenkot-Golan and the rest of the generals at the General Staff, who voice, each in his own turn and style, sane voices that are perceived at the Prime Minister’s bureau and official residence as a threat, defiance and challenging the rule of the imperial family.” (– Haaretz).

Yossi Yahushua wrote in Yediot Aharanot, BBC Monitoring says,

“Now it remains to be seen how Lieberman, who arrives with combative statements, will work with the level-headed officers at the top of the security establishment like Gadi Eizenkot, Yair Golan, Aviv Kochavi and Sami Turgeman… It is not the fear of a civilian defence minister or a right-wing man as the fear of an uncontrolled person who spoke extremely, mostly against the position of the security establishment which he will soon lead. Lieberman’s tuition fees could endanger the lives of all of us.”

Even in the pro-Netanyahu, freely distributed rag funded by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Haim Shine wrote, “In my opinion the appointment of Lieberman as defence minister is not fitting . . . There is no precedent in Israeli history to a defence minister in the image and behaviour of Lieberman. It is very regrettable that we reached this time.”

Source: Quotes package from BBC Monitoring, in English 19 May 16

It is indeed regrettable that we have reached this time.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Wochit News: “Netanyahu Pulls Off a Piece of Political Sleight of Hand Worthy of “House of Cards”

19 Responses

  1. “There is no precedent in Israeli history to a defence minister in the image and behaviour of Lieberman…….”

    Lieberman’s experience as a military leader was as a corporal who had been conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces. He has previously made public statements on national security matters that have made him the butt of jokes (e.g. “Nuke Gaza”).

    Lieberman does not even live in Israel, but in a West Bank settlement.

    A court had once found him responsible for assaulting a 12-year old child. There have been ongoing criminal corruption probes of his political party which continue to the present.

    The position of defense minister in the Israeli cabinet is often a stepping stone to the prime minister post – that is the prospect that many find disturbing as it appears PM Netanyahu believes that Lieberman would be an acceptable successor to himself once he, Netanyahu, leaves office.

  2. The fascists are making their move on power in more and more countries.
    Back when it seemed the Great Depression would never end, the capitalist classes of the West were the ones who talked not of limited government, but strongman government that would preserve their illegitimate wealth in the midst of hunger. The current unending economic malaise, and the certainty that the rich will never release enough crumbs to restore a decent life to all their subjects, has again created a demand to push minorities out of lifeboats, and restore ancient casteism. The strongmen are on the march from India to Russia to Turkey to the many Trump Towers of America.

  3. “This incident, and the extremist Israeli attacks on Palestinians, so alarmed deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan that he went so far as to liken the “sickening” processes he saw taking place in Israel to Nazi Germany in the 1930s (note: not the 1940s, when the Holocaust took place).”

    Major General Golan did not have to reach back to Nazi Germany in the 1930s for his example. He could just as easily have cited the activities of Jewish terrorist organizations operating in the 1940s in the British Mandate of Palestine.

    Frankly, the Israel of today would be very recognizable and compatible with the vision of many of those fighting for an independent state of Israel in the 1940s.

    It should be noted that the rosy picture of a group of innocent, beleaguered, plucky, Jewish settlers fighting for an independent Israel was always a myth. Just as the Zionist call for “A land without people for a people without land” was a myth foisted upon a world that had little knowledge of the area. Many of the founders of the state of Israel were terrorists, plain and simple. The Sterngang, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, and other entities were certainly terrorist organizations, assassinating both British officers and Arab inhabitants of the British Mandate of Palestine.

    Yitzhak Shamir, a future Prime Minister of Israel, was a member of the Sterngang. Menachim Begin, Another future Prime Minister, was a leader of the Irgun Zvai Leumi. On July 22, 1946, the Irgun carried out the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing several British officers. On September 17, 1948, members of the Sterngang assassinated Count Folke Bernadette, the UN Representative in Palestine. Just five months before the assassination of Count Bernadette, on April 9, 1948, the Irgun massacred some 150 to 250 (the figure has never been satisfactorily confirmed) Arab men, women, and children in the village of Deir Yassin.

    The purpose of the Irgun and Sterngang’s attacks on, and massacres of, Arabs was to create a climate of fear among the population so that they would flee. Some 700,000 Palestinian refugees fled Israel before and after its establishment. Some fled because of Arab broadcasts to leave before the invasion, but many had already fled as a result of Irgun, Sterngang, and other Jewish terrorist acts designed to intimidate them into leaving. It was clearly a form of ethnic cleansing.

    • It should be noted that despite many searches of two separately gathered databases of basically every commercial or public radio broadcasts in the region (the one gathered and maintained by the BBC on behalf of British Intelligence, the other gathered and maintained by the CIA) during the time in question, no one, not even the supporters of the Israeli regime, has been able to document calls by Arabs for nonJewish Palestinians to leave Central Palestine.

  4. Lieberman , a former Corporal reminds me of another Corporal who got into politics.

  5. With the Clintons back in the White House and allied with Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, and other right-wing extremists in Israel and around the world the decline and fall of the American empire seems all but inevitable – but not before immeasurable suffering is inflicted on the world’s people.

    • Agreed. I begin to wonder the unthinkable – whether a Trump win would disenfranchise US warmongers enough to destabilize Israel and force the Dems to seek progress in 2020. Or embarrass the Repubs enough to permit the same.

      • Trump is surfing on a wave of islamophobia and anti-arabic racism: a Trump presidency wouldn’t “disenfranchise” the warmongers: they’d just have to propose killing more Arabs and more Muslims to get his and his core constituency’s approval.

    • I disagree. None of the apocalyptic scenarios will come to pass. The Cabinet member who decides military policy in Israel is the Prime Minister, not the Defense Minister. And if the DM orders an action that’s opposed by the Chief of Staff, it goes nowhere. That’s not the problem. The big problem is that the Defense Minister needs to have an understanding of military issues in order to understand future potential threats and Lieberman is entirely unsuited for the task. I’m leaving out of the conversation his particular political ideas, which I find distasteful. But from a purely professional military POV, Lieberman is not qualified to take over the post. Replace a general with a corporal? Brilliant move, Bibi. Can’t wait to see your next brainstorm.

  6. Well, that news should have the champagne corks popping back in the Kremlin, not to mention the consternation that this will be causing within Mossad and Shin Bet……

    • They just keep up the same propaganda that they have been using. “Hamas Bad, Israel Good”.
      Majority of American citizens believe the propaganda that are fed to them, and the other majority is more worried about their own lives and family and haven’t a clue what’s taking place in the middle east.

  7. Regrettable perhaps, but on the other hand if it accelerates the divisions between Israel and the outside world, and more significantly within Israel itself, it may turn out to be a silver lining; passionate divisions have ever been their Achilles’ heel. Netanyahu may have shot his own foot again.

  8. “…….it may turn out to be a silver lining……”

    Palestinians have actually praised Lieberman for his openness about his intent and motives about Arabs in the West Bank in Gaza. Some of his lurid comments:

    (1) that he be willing would personally purchase bus transportation to take Palestinian prisoners and forcibly drown them in the Dead Sea;

    (2) discussed beheading Palestinians as a form of punishment;

  9. When the man who was OK with deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, military trials for occupied civilians, population transfer into occupied territories, and brutal, often deadly responses to people trying to exert their human rights says that the regime he has done all that for has ‘become’ extremist, one has to wonder about the sanity of anyone who tries to portray the regime as moral, normal, or declares that opposition to the regime is immoral or rooted in ignorance.

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