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APN Warns Against Legitimizing Lieberman's Bigotry

some in Israel and in America are trying to sugar-coat and otherwise obscure what it is that Lieberman and his Israel Beitenu ("Israel Our Home") party stand for. This is tantamount to tolerating these views and must not go unchallenged.
Avigdor Lieberman - Head of the Israel Beitenu Political Party,
MEDIA ADVISORY - February 16, 2009
CONTACT:  Ori Nir -  (202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C - In a statement to the press released last week, Americans for Peace Now (APN) noted with sadness and alarm the hateful, bigoted overtones this past Israeli election campaign. We urged Israeli politicians to fight racism and bigotry and stated that any future Israeli coalition government - if it is to credibly pursue security and stability, both domestically and regionally - must cleanse itself of any hint of bigotry, racism and anti-Arab hatred.

In the past, APN has been in the forefront of Jewish American organizations protesting Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman's inflammatory statements and racist ideology. APN was the only pro-Israel U.S. group to publicly protest Lieberman's joining the coalition of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in October 2006. In a letter that APN sent to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella group of pro-Israel U.S. Jewish organizations (of which APN is a member), we called Lieberman's views "morally repugnant" and "politically irresponsible." APN then expressed its concern that inviting Lieberman to speak to members of the Conference may be seen as legitimizing what he stands for.

During the recent election campaign in Israel - and immediately following the elections - some in Israel and in America are trying to sugar-coat and otherwise obscure what it is that Lieberman and his Israel Beitenu ("Israel Our Home") party stand for. This is tantamount to tolerating these views and must not go unchallenged.

APN, America's leading pro-Israel pro-peace organization, views Lieberman as a serial provocateur, a blemish on Israel's character as a democratic, moral country, and as a strategic liability. APN therefore warns against legitimizing him and what he stands for.

Following are reminders of Lieberman's positions and public statements. They ought to alarm anyone who supports Israel's democracy, who truly cares about its security and stability in the Middle East and who is concerned about Israel's image internationally:

Lieberman repeatedly insulted Egypt, Israel's chief Arab partner in peace:

    Last October, Lieberman caused a diplomatic incident when he said that Egypt's President Husni Mubarak "can go to hell." Speaking at the Knesset, he assailed what he termed as "self-effacement vis-…-vis the Egyptians." Israeli leaders, Lieberman said, should condition meeting with Mubarak on reciprocation. "Time and time again our leaders go to Egypt to meet Mubarak, and he has never made a single official visit," Lieberman said. "If he wants to talks to us, he should come here, and if he doesn't want to come, he can go to hell." Israel's President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Olmert had to extend a public apology to Mubarak. Once they did, Lieberman complained that "The State of Israel is acting toward Egypt like a battered woman."

    In 2001, Lieberman told ambassadors from the former Soviet Republics that if relations with Egypt go sour, Israel should bomb Egypt's Aswan dam, a move that would flood vast areas, causing a national calamity. 
Lieberman routinely humiliates and assails Israel's Arab citizens - about one fifth of the country's population - and their elected officials:

    In May of 2006, Lieberman sent shockwaves across Israel's political spectrum when he called for the execution of Israeli Arab Knesset members who met with Hamas leaders. Addressing the Knesset, Lieberman said: "At the end of the Second World War, not only the criminals were executed at the Nuremberg Trials, but also those who collaborated with them. I hope that this will be the fate of the collaborators in this house."
    Lieberman has repeatedly stated his wish to expel Arab citizens of Israel, and has used hateful, provocative expressions against Arab citizens of the state. In 2005, when Israel was preparing to remove settlements from the Gaza Strip, Lieberman - a strong opponent of the move - enraged Israel's Arab citizens by posting huge billboards in key locations calling for "disengagement from Umm al-Fahm," implying that rather than remove settlements from Gaza, Israel should rid itself of one of Israel's most densely populated Arab towns.

    In a 2004 interview with a local Tel Aviv weekly, Lieberman stated his belief that "ninety percent of the Arabs of Israel will have to find themselves within that Arab entity that will be established, not within the state" of Israel. He continued: "All of them with no exception! They have no place here. Let them take their bags and go to hell."

Lieberman often attacks Israeli peace activists and has compared them to Nazi collaborators:

    In October of 2007, Lieberman assailed Israeli peace activists and called them "Capos, like those who served the Nazis at the concentration camps." This statement prompted Israeli documenters of the Holocaust, as well as Holocaust survivors to charge Lieberman with contempt of the Holocaust.

Lieberman's bellicose bravado is used by Palestinians as examples of Israeli incitement:

    In 2003, when Israel released Palestinian prisoners, Lieberman said: "I am willing to bring the busses to take the Palestinian prisoners to a place from which they will never return." He added, "I would rather drown them in the Dead Sea." This statement triggered a formal complaint by the Palestinian Authority and has been repeatedly used by Palestinians as an example of Israeli anti-Palestinian incitement.

Lieberman's rhetoric and worldview are rooted in outlawed anti-Arab racism:

    According to the Israeli daily Haaretz (1/3/2009), Lieberman was in the late 1970's a card-carrying member of Meir Kahane's racist Kach movement, which was later outlawed in Israel - and in the United States - as a terrorist organization.