Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thank G-d for loose cannons...
The bad thing about loose cannons is their unpredictability – as they roll around on deck, you can’t be sure if, when or where they’re going to fire.
But there are good things about loose cannons, too. First of all, they sometimes fire when everyone else is shell shocked, sitting there with the thousand-yard stare. A shot fired by a loose cannon wakes everybody up.
Second, every now and then a loose cannon scores a direct hit, just when you need it most.
And third, whatever they do, loose cannons get a lot press – they get the message out. I guess Joe Biden would know as much about that as anyone.
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, qualifies as the incarnation of a loose cannon – and that’s good.
Oh, sure, he’s said some things that probably didn’t need saying, I’m not about to repeat them here. Right now, I’ve come to praise Lieberman, not to bury him.
Suffice it to just quote Ha’aretz, a Hebrew-language daily, who called him “a strategic threat in its own right”, citing his “lack of restraint and unbridled tongue.” (To put that in context, however, Ha’aretz is, in the words of my friend Steve Plaut, “an Arab newspaper printed in Hebrew”.)
Lieberman, like so many of us, is an immigrant. He was born in the Moldova in 1950, came to Israel in 1978. He founded the ”Zionist Forum” and also the ”Yisrael Beiteinu” (Israel our Home) political party, and lead that party to an upset win in the last elections. He didn’t win the most mandates, but he did profoundly upset the status quo, and in the process made himself kingmaker. He decided who the next Prime Minister would be – and in throwing his support to Bibi, he wrote his own ticket in this administration.
Lieberman is the right man at the right time. That doesn’t mean I won’t howl about something he’ll say tomorrow or the next day. But right now, he’s hitting one bull’s eye after another.
This morning, he upended the Messianic applecart being pushed by the Community Organizer and his pit bull, Missus Bubba (no offense intended to the noble breed of Pit Bull) by a few direct words. Understand, Avigdor Lieberman doesn’t “send a message”. He speaks unequivocally.
This morning he set forth what Israel will and won’t do to fulfill the Community Organizer’s demands.
Most importantly, Lieberman – who is, remember Israel’s Foreign Minister -- said that Israel will not return to the 1967 borders. That is, will not permit an Arab state to be created there. "A return to the borders of '67 today, as we are being pressured to do, would not end the conflict, would not guarantee peace or security," he said. "It would simply move the conflict to within the '67 borders."
Yes! As any rational observer of recent history knows, that’s exactly right. Retreating to those borders would mean only that next, we’d be fighting about how much of the remaining territory we’d be allowed to keep. But has anyone in authority said that recently? With that kind of finality? No. It took a Lieberman.
He then went on to rule out any more unilateral efforts at peace-making. "This cannot be an individual initiative," he continued. "There is no point in unveiling another plan. The correct outline is the Road Map, in stages."
That was today. A few weeks ago, he also threw out the infamous ‘Rape of Israel’ – Condi Rice’s “Annapolis Process” -- arguing that the concessions Israel had made before had done no good whatever.
"Those who want peace should prepare for war and be strong," he said. "There is no country that made concessions like Israel. Since 1967 we gave up territory that is three times the size of Israel. We showed willingness. The Oslo process started back in 1993, and to this day I have not seen that we reached peace."
Ah, to have been a fly on the wall at that speech -- the AP described Lieberman’s audience as “a roomful of cringing diplomats”. Lieberman said things no other Israeli leader has dared say publically, probably since the days of Menachem Begin.
"The Israeli government never ratified Annapolis; nor did the Knesset," he said, promising only to honor President Bush’s “Roadmap” of 2002.
To top that off, on Sunday, he called for the arrest of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese terrorist gang Hezbollah. New evidence has come to light about Hezbollah’s involvement in the 2005 assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, so Lieberman advocated an international arrest warrant for the terrorist gang leader. That’s roughly comparable, in scope, to demanding the arrest of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas)
And why not? Why should terrorist leaders remain above arrest for the murder of their victims? No reason – but it took Avigdor Lieberman to say it.
In coming days, Lieberman will most likely emerge as the fearless leader of the Israeli faction demanding a pre-emptive strike against Iran, too – something else calculated to give the Community Organizer heartburn.
If Obama’s naïve notion of “reaching out” to terrorist leaders doesn’t happen to work, watch out for Lieberman.
All that said, Lieberman’s enemies give him no rest. They’re constantly trying to convict him of corruption, which is the way the Israeli Left deals with politicians they can’t control in any other way.
Whatever. At the moment Avigdor Lieberman is performing yeoman service to Israel and to the Western World. He’s saying things that need to be said, and he’s saying them in a way that makes people listen.
Thank G-d for loose cannons.