Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Andrew Sullivan Makes a Stupid Statement ...

Oh for crying out load. Andrew Sullivan, who I actually like in a lot of ways, makes another plainly stupid statement about Israel. This one came in reaction to Goldblog's post worrying, too much, about the future of Israel's democracy.

Sullivan is also apparently worried about Israel, and the focus of his concern seems to be Avigdor Lieberman. Regular readers of this blog, if there are any, know that I have no love for Lieberman. Actually, I rather dislike our Foreign Minister. If a Kansas tornado were to pick up a small farmhouse furnished with farm girl and dog, and then drop said farmhouse onto Mr. Lieberman, I wouldn't shed a tear.

That, being said Sullivan's latest statement is just stupid.
What panics me is that the Israel that I see today is not the Israel I thought I knew only two years ago. Avigdor Lieberman is the de facto leader of the country, commanding its foreign policy, defying its prime minister, enraging allies, forswearing any peace.
I'm sorry, Lieberman just doesn't matter that much and everyone knows it. He is a joke and his only real power comes from his ability to embarrass Netanyahu and the Israeli public. He is popular with his voters, of which he has a few, but he is reviled by most other Israelis.

He is like an annoying prankster. He can ruin things and annoy people and embarrass and do other stupid things. But he has no real ability to do anything. The world community doesn't work with him, and the Americans have been conducting their talks with either Netanyahu directly or with Ehud Barack.

Sullivan isn't the first observer to exaggerate Lieberman's importance. Not too long ago Newsweek magazine promoted him to the position of Israel's most popular politician, which is odd since in my four years of living here I have yet to encounter a single Israeli who actually likes him let alone voted for him.

Granted I live in Tel Aviv and don't have many acquaintances from the FSU, but still, if he were so popular I should have encountered at least one person who liked him.

The best analogy that I can come up with is if someone said that Sarah Palin is the de facto leader of the U.S. She was the driving force behind the tea party movement and look how that turned out. Do I really believe that? No. Neither do I believe that Lieberman is the de facto leader of Israel and neither should Andrew Sullivan.

Shmuel Rosner has blogged about Lieberman's popularity here and responded to Goldblog's post as well here. He went over both issues in a more organized fashion so I highly recommend that you read his responses.

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