Foreign Minister out of sync with Foreign Ministry

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman attacked human rights NGOs, calling them “terror organizations”. But his ministry praised their support

The Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, attacked the human rights NGOs today, dubbing them “terror organizations and enablers of terrorists” (Hebrew). This remark (which was followed by others, wilder ones) was a part of a general tantrum thrown by Liberman, who claimed Likud is not helping his party initiate a so-called investigation of the leftwing organizations. Nothing to see here, move along; This is just Liberman squabbling with Netanyahu over radical-center votes, and the best way to garner them is to attack the boogieman, the human rights organizations.

Except… Except that the official position of the Foreign Ministry is somewhat different. In an official paper sent to the UN, trying to defuse the Goldstone Report, the FM claimed (PDF; chapter 133, pg. 41) that Military Police CID asked for and received aid from those odious organizations in their investigations; it mentioned B’Tselem by name. What Liberman considers to be enemies of the state of Israel (he also called them “spies of Hizbullah”) are seen quite differently by his office.

Is Liberman unaware of the reports of his own office? Possibly; Liberman is foreign minister in name only. No foreign minister wishes to be seen dead with him. Other ministers deal with the Americans, the Turks, the Egyptians, and of course the Palestinians. The official foreign minister is welcomed only in Moscow and Belarus, whose political culture he tries to import to Israel. This is not to say he has any actual influence over the Russians: They have humiliated him time and time again, and have already announced they will support Palestinian statehood come September.

Possible, but unlikely. Liberman, I believe, is just using official Israel’s oldest trick: Waving its liberal institutes in the face of international anger, while flogging them for the enjoyment of the Israeli public. This is the image of the Israeli public these days, at least in the mind of cynical politicians: A frightened herd, easily incited against people who dare to think otherwise.

And facts be damned.