From bar guard to Israeli defense minister - TAHA KILINÇ

From bar guard to Israeli defense minister

There is a Jewish settlement in the southwest of the Bethlehem city in the Israeli occupied West Bank: Nokdim. Nokdim, which is home to about 2,000 people and is 408 acres in size, was founded after the occupation of two Palestinian villages in 1982. Through the roads that were built explicitly for the Jews, one can reach Jerusalem in 20 minutes. Just like all the other settlements, this settlement is also surrounded by military control points, walls, and barbed wires.

What differentiates Nokdim from the other 130 illegal settlements in West Bank is that the most racist, unpredictable, unstable and unregistered man that has ever seen in the recent history of Israel lives there: Avigdor Lieberman. The fact that this man, who is known for his animosity toward Arabs and Muslims, lives in an illegal settlement established within an Arab territory can only be seen as “consistency.”

Avigdor Lieberman was born in the capital of Moldovia, Kishinev which then a part of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on June 5, 1958. Lieberman was raised in Kishinev, where 25 percent of the population was Jewish, and participated in the Zionist movement since his youth. Lieberman, who served his military duty in 1978 by migrating to Israel, later registered to the International Relations department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In his university years, it is known that he was a bar bouncer and bodyguard. There is another area in which Lieberman satisfied his propensity to violence: his Arab friends at school. Many of his peers who still remember those days say that Lieberman was often picking fights with Arabs.

Russian Jews who came to Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union were an important area of focus for Jews, especially those like Avigdor Lieberman who also had political ambitions. First of all, he was among the founders of the Soviet Jews Zionist Forum and later started to contribute to this policy with the support he now has. Between 1993 and 1996, he was the general secretary of the Likud Movement, and assumed the administration of the office of prime minister during Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term (1996-97). Later, he continued in politics on his own by establishing his own party, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home)

From 2001, he served as minister of national infrastructure, minister of transportation, deputy prime minister, minister of strategic affairs, minister of foreign affairs, and his last duty was to serve as a minister of defense until he resigned last Wednesday, November 14. What led Lieberman, who resigned after a press conference in which he made vitriolic statements, to take this decision was that the Israeli army did not bomb Gaza “enough.” Despite all his insistence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose not to further escalate tensions in Gaza, and this led to the resignation of Lieberman as defense minister from the cabinet. This incident resembles the dispute between Lieberman and former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, in 2005. When Sharon decided to evacuate over 8,500 Jewish settlers who lived in Gaza, Lieberman reacted in such a way that he was eventually kicked out of the cabinet by Sharon himself.

Thus, Avigdor Lieberman even had fights with the cruelest and violent prime ministers in Israel’s history (Sharon and Netanyahu) and it is interesting that the reason for both of these fights was about the Gaza policy, and he blamed both of them for making concessions and clemency.

Lieberman is known for talking without thinking, and there are many instances throughout his political career (“We should bomb Egypt’s Aswan Dam 2001”, “Mahmud Abbas is a diplomatic terrorist” 2014, Palestinians who are Israeli citizens and disloyal to us deserve to be beheaded” 2015, “Netanyahu is a liar, a fraud and a crook.” 2015) and it appears that he has personified the settler terror attacking tendency that he brought from Moldova into his personality. The character of the settlers in West Bank and East Jerusalem, whose numbers reached 1 million, is virtually represented in his persona. When we recall that Yigal Amir, who killed the Israeli Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 because he was “too tolerant towards the Palestinians” was a settler too, we see clearly what cause Lieberman is acting according to and what social base he addresses.

November is a very important month for the history of Palestine: The Balfour Declaration was signed (November 2, 1917), the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin occurred (November 4, 1995), Yasser Arafat died (November 11, 2004), the declaration of independence of Palestine was made (November 15, 1988), the infamous voting about the partition of Palestinian territories took place in the UN (November 29, 1947)… Although Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation is not significant enough to be added to this list, it is worthy of mentioning because it highlights the settler reality which function as cancer cells accelerating the dissolution of Israeli society.

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