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M Michaeli: The Olmert-Lieberman Dirty Alliance

The Olmert-Lieberman Dirty Alliance


The Independent Middle East News Service

[Discussion of anti-Arab racism is becoming part and parcel of the Israeli election campaign. Over the past few days both major Australian broadsheets have covered the issue as have major newspapers around the world. Unfortunately in Israel itself it has not been established that a racist party is an unacceptable ally. But as radio and TV commentator Merav Michaeli points out below it is not enough to be opposed to the racists and refuse to vote for them. One must not vote for anybody who would contemplate having a coalition with the avowed racists. One way or other Ynetnews (English website of Israel’s largest circulating newspaper) didn’t think its overseas readers would be interested in the issue. This article is taken from the Hebrew edition.

Please note: whenever Michaeli talks about Arabs in the article below she is referring to Arab citizens of Israel known as Palestinian Israelis, Israeli Arab or 1948 Palestinians. She is not talking the Occupied Territories Palestinians.

- Sol Salbe.]

The Olmert-Lieberman Dirty Alliance


Merav Michaeli

It is five days to the elections. Permit me to show you a link between two events this week that superficially appear to be unconnected. Ehud Olmert announced publicly that he would not have Lieberman in his coalition unless the latter accepted his “convergence” plan. The Centre for the Struggle against Racism released figures indicating that we are incredibly racist towards Arab men and women. Nearly 70 per cent of us are unwilling to live next door to an Arab. Just under half of us are unwilling to have an Arab visit us at home, and 40 per cent think that the state ought to encourage the emigration of Arabs. I wonder what the figures would have been had the question proposed our own expulsion from this land?

But really, what is so interesting and so astounding in these figures? After all, today’s opinion polls indicate that a party which has inscribed the removal and expulsion of Israeli Arabs from Israel on its banner is to have twelve Knesset members elected. It’s a party called Israel Beitenu, which in Hebrew means “Israel is our home”. >From its leader’s standpoint, it is inappropriate to have Arabs in our home. So action must be taken to remove them. He calls his plans “an exchange of territories.” But the problem is not Lieberman’s thoughts. The problem is that the State of Israel allows a party with such a platform to run in the elections.

[Yossi Beilin], the leader of the left-wing Meretz Party has provided enhanced legitimacy for Lieberman with his endorsement of that individual as a good person. Lieberman got a further boost from the way media has collaborated with all the Kadima spins: We will / We won’t have Lieberman in our coalition. “Israel is our home”: what an accurate description! Indeed, the vast majority of us do feel that Israel is -- before, after, and regardless of everything – our home. Israeli culture allows us to absolutely combine that feeling with the demand that in Israel, our home, there won’t be any Arabs. So what is so astounding about our citizens not wanting to have any Arabs in their own homes?

Now we come to the connection between all the above and Ehud Olmert. He stands at the head of a party whose sole raison d’etre is to be in power – the party has no ideology and there is nothing else to it. And therefore we can be certain of what lurks behind his declaration that he won’t allow Lieberman to join his coalition unless he accepts the “Convergence” plan. All the polls are reporting that Kadima is losing support while Labour and Meretz are gaining. Apparently there are voters who have actually been swayed by all the by the winking and appeasing in the right’s direction like Olmert’s visit to [the settlement of] Ariel and that horror show in Jericho. The trouble is that the effect was the exact opposite of what was intended. It has pushed some voters to the left. So now there is a desperate need to appease the left by refusing to share the government benches with Lieberman.

But Olmert did not reject Lieberman as a partner because the latter advocates the expulsion of Arab citizens. Oh no, he didn’t rule out accepting the “exchange of territories” proposal, provided Lieberman accepted his own plan. There’s the outline of a future foul deal. If indeed Lieberman ends up with twelve MKs and let’s say Olmert gains 35, under those circumstances can you really envisage him saying “Nyet” to Lieberman lightly? In fact Olmert added something else yesterday. He said that every Jewish party was a potential coalition partner. A Jewish party, in other words not an Arab party. Ehud Olmert is unwilling to share the government benches with Arabs.

According to Lieberman, the principle of Jewish purity is far more important than democracy. In his interview with Haaretz a fortnight ago, he stressed a Jewish-Zionist state (not a democratic one). Kadima too is not quite committed to the notions of democracy either, as you can tell from its articles of association. The leader of the party has “presidential” powers and he can more-or-less decide everything without being accountable to anyone. The only other body which has any authority is the Knesset faction. But even there you can be unceremoniously -- and permanently -- chucked out if you dare vote the wrong way on an important issue. That is one way to ensure that “we will not have any rebels again” as Olmert said so emphatically yesterday.

As we said, the elections are at the doorstep. So if you are one of those who feel uncomfortable living in a state where objecting to Arab neighbours is the norm; if you don’t want to live in a state that expels or “exchanges” its citizens, then it’s simply not enough not to vote for Lieberman. You should not vote for anyone who would have him in their coalition.

*************

[Translated by Sol Salbe from Ynet. Hebrew original: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3231590,00.html

The Independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]

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