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The immigrant Lieberman and the 'Jew Suss' Print E-mail

By Sarah Hoing
January 24, 2008

Existential threats against the Mideast's besieged Jewish enclave have hardly been catastrophically aggravated due to Avigdor Lieberman's exit from the crudely concocted Ministry for Strategic Affairs. Lieberman's contribution to the battle against Iranian nukes won't be missed. His departure from the shady coalition will be as lamented as his entry into it was understood in the first place. He debased himself by facilitating Ehud Olmert's political survival and scored no popularity points by bailing out.

There could be little sympathy for Lieberman's bizarre shenanigans. But all this held true only until MK Ahmed Tibi opened his big mouth. When Tibi trashed Lieberman and disparagingly described him as "the immigrant Lieberman," all Israelis should have pro forma declared themselves Liebermans. It's not because we inexplicably took a shining to the politico who cheated so many of his voters by propping up the very administration that is anathema to them. It's because Tibi seeks to undercut the legitimacy of every single Jew in the Jewish homeland when he chips away at Lieberman's legitimacy.

The epithet Tibi chose to affix to Lieberman's name was spewed out with all the spitefulness with which Third Reich propagandists referred to "the Jew Suss," whose identity alone constituted sufficient grounds to convict him of any crime, no matter how heinous.

For Tibi, the fact that "the immigrant Lieberman" was born in the USSR is sufficient to deny him the right to tell it like it is here and now, decades after having struggled to reach Israel. His birth in Kishinev (of everlasting pogrom infamy) deprives Lieberman of the hereditary validity to question Tibi's loyalty to the country in whose parliament he serves, which pays his way and which liberally tolerates his seditious insolence.

In Tibi's book Lieberman doesn't belong here. Lieberman is an interloper, impostor, gate-crasher, villain and usurper. Tibi on the other hand lays claim to elevated status: "We Arabs were here before the immigrant Lieberman and will be here after him. We are the salt of the earth and he is an invading immigrant. Taiba and Umm el-Fahm are more authentic and legitimate than Moldavia [the republic of Lieberman's birth] and Nokdim [his place of residence]."

Substitute "Germans" for Tibi's "Arabs" and up will surface all the repulsive revilement which Josef Goebbels crammed into the 1940 Nazi movie The Jew Suss, produced to instigate and justify Jew-loathing.

Like Goebbels, Tibi too portrays himself as spokesman for a population with uber-superiority. Like Goebbels, Tibi lies. He omits mention of mass Arab Mandate-era immigration into the land that Jewish pioneers made habitable. Like Goebbels, Tibi proffers rationale for demonizing and delegitimizing "the Jew-intruders." Like Goebbels, he threatens ethnic cleansing ("we will be here after him"), if not worse.

Tibi - for years adviser to Yasser Arafat, while bankrolled by Israel's duped public - still functions as the PLO's agent in the Jewish state's parliament. The never-revoked PLO Covenant, it needs be stressed, calls for the removal from the area that now comprises the State of Israel of every Jew who wasn't here in 1917. That would leave no Jews around, save for a dwindling number of native nonagenarians. That's why Tibi, his bosses in Ramallah and spiritual allies in Gaza won't even consider renouncing the so-called right of return - code terminology for inundating Israel with hostile Arabs. Thereafter only a few 90-plus sabras will be allowed to remain, assuming their birth certificates are stringently checked and authenticated. That's the true meaning of "Palestinian-democratic-state" prattle or the "state for all its citizens," which Tibi assiduously promotes.

NOT ONLY Lieberman would be ousted - alive or dead - from Tibi's ideal state. In his heart of hearts, Tibi projects for all of us - every single Israeli Jew of whatever age, gender, extraction or ideological inclination - the very same as he wishes for Lieberman. Therefore, we should all, as a nation, have identified loudly and outspokenly with Lieberman. We should all have taken umbrage.

It's no personal matter. Turning a blind eye to enmity from within won't stimulate in Israel's own Arab citizens greater allegiance to the state against which their radical representatives agitate in ever shriller tones. Israeli democracy facilitates the election of the most anti-Israeli provocateurs in Israel's Arab sector. The more inflammatory an Arab candidate's oratory, the brighter are his electoral prospects.

If ever Lieberman were right about anything it's that Israelis cannot afford indifference to within-Green-Line dangers. High-minded civil liberties rhetoric won't mitigate Arab hostility, just as fiscal largesse at the taxpayer's expense won't cool anti-Israeli ardor.

It's tempting to wish peril away. Israelis preferred not to see Hizbullah's massive buildup in south Lebanon during the six years after Ehud Barak's dishonorable midnight flight. But Hizbullah didn't evaporate. We kidded ourselves that just such a pullout from Gaza and the attendant destruction of Jewish settlements would assuage genocidal hatred. But the Kassams keep coming. We forfeited the Philadelphi corridor, trusting that the Egyptians would prevent gunrunning into Gaza. But Cairo enjoys Israeli discomfiture.

We bolster "peace partner" Mahmoud Abbas by freeing terrorist convicts, funds and military hardware into his unreliable care. Unsophisticated hindsight alone should have forewarned us that Abbas's own "security forces" would employ Israeli weaponry to murder Israelis. But we'd rather not dwell on unpleasantness.

WERE OUR collective memory not so woefully impaired, we would daily recall with a shudder the uprising of the year 2000 - the direct outgrowth of Barak's egregious concessions - inside our very own tiny country, making travel on roads within Israel's heartland as hazardous as during the darkest days of the inimical British Mandate.

But if we cannot remember the relatively recent Arafat-orchestrated brutalities by nominal Israeli citizens, why would we recall The Jew Suss? Why would we take offense from the degrading and intimidating use of the definite article, followed by a dehumanizing moniker for a Jewish individual?
Had we remembered any of that, we might have also recalled that
The Jew Suss wasn't merely unkind stereotyping, but that it was sinister enough to spark anti-Jewish riots and mayhem as far away as Marseilles.

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