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The World is no Golem

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Message Uri Avnery
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ISRAEL IS, as we well know, the land of unlimited impossibilities. In Israel, for example, the diplomats are striking.

A strike of diplomats? But that is impossible! Postmen strike. Longshoremen strike. But diplomats? The most conservative, the most establishment people? The people who serve any Israeli government, whatever its complexion? Who find pretexts for all its actions, whatever they may be?

Well, in Israel it is possible. All the Foreign Office services have ceased to function. No new passports for citizens who have lost their papers in Moscow, no consular assistance for citizens who have been thrown into prison in New York. No preparations for Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Paris. For years, Foreign Office people have suffered from miserable working conditions. Their salaries are bordering on the ridiculous. So they went on strike.

DOES THIS infuriate the Prime Minister? Is the Foreign Minister upset? Not a bit of it. Netanyahu does not go out of his way to put an end to the strike, and Avigdor Lieberman does absolutely nothing to tempt his employees back to their desks. Both do not care. On the contrary, they look almost happy. For all they care, let them strike forever.

And they are right. This week, everybody realized how right they are.

The President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, was scheduled to visit Israel. But before that, he went to Jericho, which is considered the oldest town in the world. There, in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas, he declared that Russia had recognized the Palestinian state long ago, and that it continues to recognize the Palestinians' right to a state of their own, with its capital in East Jerusalem.

Not exactly. It was not Russia that recognized Palestine, but the Soviet Union. And the recognition was conferred on the virtual state declared by Yasser Arafat in 1988. That is very different from recognition of the Palestinian state now, when it is becoming a reality.

After his visit to Jericho, Medvedev was to come to Jerusalem, to be photographed next to Binyamin Netanyahu and shake hands with Avigdor Lieberman. How was Netanyahu to react to the Jericho declaration? How could he extricate himself from this matter, without humiliating himself or offending the largest country in the world?

This embarrassment was avoided by the sanctions of the Israeli diplomats. They refused to prepare the visit and organize the meetings. Medvedev gave up, and the two great statesmen -- Netanyahu and Lieberman -- could breathe again.

Deep in his heart, Lieberman surely blessed the people of his office, whom he hates. They saved him. What could he tell Medvedev? Ever since walking into the Foreign Office like a bear entering the proverbial china shop, he has boasted of his excellent relations with Russia. The Americans loathe him? So what? America is a declining empire. The Europeans don't want to meet with him? So what? Who are they, anyhow?

But Russia is Russia. Here we have a real friend. Lieberman admires Vladimir Putin, that great democrat, who knows how to deal with cheeky people like the Chechnyans. Lieberman speaks with him in his mother tongue. He boasted of having established really intimate relations with Russia. And now they do this thing to him. What a disgrace.

BUT THE truth is that Putin is not really his friend. Yvette Lieberman (his original name) has only one real friend in the world: Aleksandr Lukashenko, President of Belarus, "the Last Dictator in Europe."

True. Lieberman was not born in Belarus, but in Soviet Moldavia. But there is no doubt that Belarus is his Second Homeland. In its capital, Minsk, he spends his vacations. There he chose to hide in the (successful) intention of blackmailing Netanyahu, when "Bibi" begged him to join the government coalition. Lukashenko is his soul-mate. He is his model. From him he learned how to deal with human rights organizations. The patent belongs to the President of Belarus, and is only licensed to the leader of "Israel Our Home." It was Lukashenko who sent an official warning to the human rights activists in his country and threatened them with heavy penalties if they continue to "distort information" about Belarus.

"The Ministry of Justice has issued a written warning," said the text, "to the Belorussian Helsinki Committee for violations of the law on civic organizations and mass media and for spreading dubious information discrediting the law enforcement and justice agencies of the republic." The police raided the premises of the human rights organizations and the KGB (yes, the old name lives on in Belarus) has started to investigate.

From there Lieberman drew his inspiration, when he opened his campaign against the peace and human rights activists in Israel, whom he called this week "collaborators of terrorism." I don't speak Slavic languages, but I am sure that it sounds more authentic in Belarussian than in Hebrew.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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