Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian's comprehensively rambammed foreign editor, continues to amaze with the sheer chutzpah of his propaganda pieces.
April 9 was no exception. Sheridan was at great pains to emphasise that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was leading a centre-right government, not a hardline right government, and declared that anyone who begged to differ was simply an "enemy of Israel," an "heir to ancient anti-Semitism," and engaged in a "relentless quest to delegitimise and demonise [Israel] at every point" by "mislabelling a democratic government of mainstream, democratic politicians as hardline right-wing... an important part of that quest." (Israeli leaders mislabelled by foes).
Of course, while Sheridan, a legendary deligitimiser, demoniser and mislabeller of the Palestinians (he later refers to the democratically elected Hamas government of Palestine as a "terrorist death cult"), is busy affixing the 'correct' labels, the rest of us have long since concluded that Livni=Barak=Netanyahu=Lieberman.
Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, in particular, is in dire need of sanitisation, and this is exactly what Sheridan sets out to do. A piece of cake, of course. Simply ignore, as Sheridan does, Lieberman's call for the bombing of the Aswan Dam when Egypt lent support to Arafat (1998); his proposal to divide the West Bank into 4 cantons (2001); his statement that the Palestinians should be given an ultimatum - 'At 8am we'll bomb all the commercial centers... at noon we'll bomb their gas stations... at 2 we'll bomb their banks...' (2002); his proposal that Israel's thousands of Palestinian prisoners be drowned in the Dead Sea (2003); his declaration that 90% of Israeli 'Arabs' "have no place [in Israel]" and should "take their bundles and get lost" (2004); and his call for the execution of Israeli 'Arab' MKs who meet with members of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (2006).
Of course, the fact that Lieberman had advocated (2004) transferring those bits of Israel riddled with 'Arabs' to the Palestinian Authority in return for the annexation of those bits of the West Bank blessed with Israeli settlement blocs could hardly be ignored. Ditto the fact that he had gone to the last election with a proposal that Israelis be required to swear a loyalty oath and undertake military service, a thinly disguised attack on Israeli 'Arabs'.
With regard to the former proposal, Sheridan speciously claims that Lieberman can't be accused of advocating "ethnic cleansing or anything like it" because, although "the land underneath [the feet of Israeli 'Arabs']" might become part of "a Palestinian state," "presumably no Israeli citizen would be forced to give up their citizenship."
Presumably? Sheridan, of course, ignores the racist Israeli obsession with demography and the maintenance of a Jewish majority state underpinning Lieberman's 'transferist' thinking. Back in 2007, however, when Sheridan actually interviewed Lieberman in Israel, he acknowledged, correctly, that "the idea of excluding people on the basis of their ethnicity or religion is anathema to every liberal principle," (although going on to qualify this with the bald assertion that it "conforms to the reality of the Middle East"). (See my 21/12/07 post Greg Sheridan: Charmed by Israel's 'Most Dangerous Politician')
Presumably, Sheridan's concern for "liberal principles" is now passe. That said, even then Sheridan made excuses for Lieberman, finding him "charming in a rough Russian way" and "more open to change than many Israelis."
As for Lieberman's proposal for a mandatory loyalty oath, Sheridan is of the view that while this may be seen "as insulting to Israel's Arab citizens," it is "not the black hand of fascism," and that it is "not unreasonable for Lieberman to want to debate the civic identity of Israel's Arab citizens."
Insulting to Israel's Arab citizens? Just a debating exercise? Here's former Israeli 'Arab' member of the Knesset Azmi Bishara: "The people who stayed here [after the expulsion of 1948] did not immigrate here. This is our country. This [Israeli] state came here and was forced on the ruins of my nation. I accepted citizenship to be able to live here, and I will not do anything, security-wise, against the state... but you cannot ask me every day if I am loyal to the state. Citizenship demands that I be loyal to the law, but not to the values or ideologies of the state." (Lieberman's charm offensive, Palestine Monitor, 9/3/09) Amen.