Lieberman does not turn his other cheek

February 4, 2010

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Defence Minister Barak called for peace with Syria. In response, both the President and Foreign Minister of Syria declared that Israel was looking for war. We were also told to stop behaving like thieves or villains of the region, and warned that even a military campaign against Hizbollah would draw Syrian fire on Israeli cities, and would lead to all-out war.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to this talk with unprecedented ferocity. Speaking directly to Syria’s deepest fears, he warned that were there to be a war between Israel and Syria not only would Syria lose, but the Assad family would be removed from power.

No one in Israel should be particularly surprised by Lieberman’s comments. For several years now Avigdor Lieberman has been arguing that one must not behave like a vegetarian in a region full of carnivores.

Have the Jews of the West spent too much time rubbing shoulders with Christian traditions that we cannot but feel alienated by such unforgiving, unbending (though perhaps locally appropriate) behaviour? In this sense is Israel’s Foreign Minister behaving with a clearer sense of Jewish dignity? Or do the ringing words of the Ethics of the Fathers question Lieberman’s approach when they suggest: “Who is a hero? One who conquers his own rage.”


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