As a progressive Zionist organization, JSpaceCanada believes in a two state solution with full civil and human rights for Palestinians. We are opposed to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank as a serious obstacle to peace and, ultimately, counter-productive to Israel’s security. At the same time, we oppose all attempts to delegitimize Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Avigdor Lieberman, the ultranationalist leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, to the post of defense minister this week seems to make these goals harder to achieve.
This appointment has received a lot of notice in the press around the world, most of it with dismay. Daniel Schild offers his reaction.
Extremist elements have taken over the country, Moshe Ya'alon said as he handed in his resigned as Defense Minister and from the Knesset. With his appointment, Netanyahu has smeared Israel with Lieberman’s problematic reputation for jingoism, racism and intolerance. Haaretz, May 20, 2016
There were rumors in Israel that Egypt’s President Sisi was working on a softening of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi plan offering Israel a full regional peace in return for Palestinian statehood along the pre-1967 armistice lines. Any such talk will now go by the wayside, given Lieberman’s reputation in the Arab world as an anti-Arab racist and hardline hawk. Forward, May 22, 2016
The U.S. State Department says it has reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel's history with many of its ministers opposed to a two-state solution. Haaretz, May 25, 2016
If you are looking for in-depth analysis and a historical perspective, here it is. Tablet, May 25, 2016
These are just a few of the opinions we have posted on the JSpaceCanada Facebook page about the Avigdor Lieberman appointment. We invite you to follow the page and the JSpaceCanada Twitter account to stay up to date on the news and events of interest to progressive Zionists. We also want to hear your comments. After all, JSpaceCanada offers a safe place to have a conversation about Israel.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Lieberman as Defence Minister – Another Blow to the Stalled Peace Process?
by Daniel Schild
After days of political intrigue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to add five Members of the Knesset from the right-wing nationalist party, Yisrael Beiteinu, and to appoint its leader Avigdor Lieberman as the new Minister of Defence, in order to bolster his shaky coalition. In my view, this move smacks of political expediency and speaks to Netanyahu’s highest objective – his own political survival – rather than to a desire to strengthen or unify the country.
Lieberman, a settler whose political base rests in the settler movement, is known for controversial statements such as speculating on the possibility of Israel bombing the Aswan dam, advocating a loyalty oath for Arab Israeli citizens and urging the re-occupation of Gaza during the 2014 Gaza War.
Outgoing Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon in announcing his resignation from the Knesset warned that "extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement and are destabilizing our home."
Nathan Guttman, Washington Bureau Chief for the Forward, noted that reaction to the "Lieberman quake rocks Israel" but it is being downplayed by foreign governments. As Guttman explains "Lieberman is viewed as being put in charge of a ministry that is all about practical work on the ground and less about ideology."
In Israel, reaction has been far fiercer. Former PM Ehud Barak warned the seeds of fascism were being planted. Former Likud Defence Minister Moshe Arens writing in Ha’aretz called the Lieberman appointment a "political earthquake," and stated that "the confidence of much of the public that Likud can be trusted to ensure Israel's security has been shaken."
In its May 23 editorial entitled A Baffling, Hard-line Choice in Israel, the New York Times opined that “Mr. Lieberman's appointment would make a mockery of any possible Israeli overtures to the Palestinians."
The Lieberman appointment sends out a negative message to Israel's citizens and allies. We cannot support the policies of Israel's current government, which places political expediency ahead of the urgent need for restarting peace talks as Israel enters the 50th year of its occupation of the West Bank.
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The Jerusalem Foundation of Canada.
Mahamad Marzouk Director of the Community Department. He hasbeen a social-political activist for 20 years, and is one of the founders of the Hand in Hand school, Bridge over the Wadi. Most of Mohamad’s work has focused on social change and the advancement of civil society in Arab communities in Israel as well as on peace education through Jewish-Arab dialogue.
Rebecca Bardach Director of Resouce Development and Strategy. Sheworked for almost two decades in migration, development and foreign aid before joining Hand in Hand. When she moved to Israel in 1998 she worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with asylum claimants and government policy makers on refugee issues, and then with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to establish its Center for International Migration and Integration.