There is a whole bunch of stuff going on in the Russian Jewish (and Jewish) community at large that I could get flack for writing about.

First of all, on the East Coast, it’s getting warmer outside. However, the ground has not warmed up enough to wear light clothing. This has led Russian mothers everywhere to proclaim, “DON’T GO OUTSIDE NAKED.” This means not wearing short skirts or capri pants if it is less than 70 degrees outside because, if you are a girl, and the wind blows, you could chill your ovaries and never have children. Doubly so if you sit on cold surfaces. This is the way Russian weather works. No questions. If you don’t believe me, ask Marinka. Or the You Know You’re a Nice Russian Girl group on Facebook. Or any other Russian you know. We are suffering right now, waiting breathlessly for the augurers to tell us when the ground to sun ratio has reached a sufficient level to be able to pull out something that cuts off above the ankle.

The other big thing is that Avigdor Lieberman is on tour in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, and The Czech Rebpulic) as one of his first acts as new foreign minister. The other, is, apparently, getting grilled once more on fraud suspicion. As soon as I found out about this, I knew I had to write about it. I immediately envisioned Madonna as Eva Peron, going on her Rainbow Tour, hoping to dazzle European dignitaries into thinking that Argentina was awesome in the 1940s and that she had an important stake in the government. Unfortunately, she was called a whore in Italy. As she was going to the Vatican.


Lieberman is doing the same thing. However, because he is often speaks his mind (instead of being politically glib), he has, so far not been well-received in Europe, the Middle East, or pretty much anywhere except Russian news channels. Some of these truths include having Arabs that are Israeli citizens sign loyalty oaths to the state; opposing the creation of a viable Palestinian state; and, on occasion, threatening to bomb the Aswan dam. None of this is alarming in that this is the sort of talk you would hear around many a Brooklyn-area dinner table.

However, it looks like this tour is evidently one for him to get his feelers out and to create concrete ties with European nations that, pretty much, hate Israel. He’s starting with Italy, the country closest to Israel politically. If even they are cautioning him to be careful in what he says, it will be interesting to see how he is received in France and Germany. So, this move is not only one to establish his legitimacy in the new government, but a chance to make some amends with more liberal factions, both in Israel and abroad. On the one hand, I’m extremely proud that he represents us Russian-speaking Jews as a sizeable minority in our own country. He is also unyieldingly honest about his views, which represent his constituency extremely well, even though they anger the opposition. On the other, he told the Egyptian president to go to Hell. So, good luck to Avigdor on the Old Continent. Here’s hoping he’s received better than Evita.

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  • Lieberman may be the worst choice for this ministry because he’s an easy target. He may speak openly, but sometimes that kind of talk is the last thing you need in a diplomat…and that’s the job he has right now, running Israel’s diplomatic corps.

    If he thinks he’s going to charm the Europeans, good luck. When you write, “None of this is alarming in that this is the sort of talk you would hear around many a Brooklyn-area dinner table,” you may be accurately depicting a particular group and their views, but you have to remember that many of those views are not mainstream either in Israel and especially not in Europe or the US.

    Politicians often find that their rhetoric when they were in opposition cannot be sustained or converted into policy once they are elected into the ruling government. Lieberman is learning this right now, but he’s also starting from behind and has a lot of catching up to do because his reputation is so negative in many corners of the West.

  • I guess it makes sense that a piece that discourages mothers from protecting their daughters from casual sexual interchanges would also put down a man who is standing up to globalized tyranny. I hope you enjoy the feeling of forced sex. It isn’t your daughter that is getting it. it is your behind out pretending the world is fair at Durban II. Lieberman understands what you can’t comprehend when you sell your community out.

  • Any high-ranking German who steps into the same room with Lieberman should have his or her head examined.

  • @themiddle

    You are correct when you write, “When you write, “None of this is alarming in that this is the sort of talk you would hear around many a Brooklyn-area dinner table,” you may be accurately depicting a particular group and their views, but you have to remember that many of those views are not mainstream either in Israel and especially not in Europe or the US.”

    It seems he’s already softening his stance on Palestinian statehood, and I’m interested to see how much else he changes as he continued to be in office. It’s not easy being loyal to your constituency when you are under pressure of larger fish, something that politicians are always struggling with.

    @noah david simon Um, what?

    @Tom Morissey He is a function of the new state now, it would be bad form for Europe to ignore him. The more he is forced to talk to other countries, the less radical he may be perceived.

  • Vicki, I think NDS misinterpreted your explanations as to why Russian mothers want their daughters to cover up.
    (Though I’m glad that this time it was Middle who suggested the reading comprehension class; 8:15am till 8:25pm tomorrow if anybody’s interested.)

    Germany’s had the fastest-growing Jewish community (1,000% growth) over the past fifteen or so years mostly due to migrants from the former Soviet Union, so there may be ways to connect on that level. So far, German news have been little concerned with Lieberman, and a CDU-dominated government in general is most adamantly pro-Israel and supportive of Israel’s domestic policies. Yet, several of his statements are not tolerable in democratic states that aim to ensure civil rights, so he might want to reconsider his role as a representative of a democratic state and the values such a state generally adheres to or he will have to deal with a lot of criticism that won’t do Israel much good in foreign perception. (Germany’s Israel’s second-most important partner in export trade; some German chains make it a point to buy Israeli products even if they cost more than others – it certainly would be fatal for the Israeli economy if those stores decided to pull Israeli products out of their lines just because a person with extreme political views stepped over the boundaries of what is generally perceived bearable here.)

  • What have decades of going along to get along actually got us?

    Nothing but contempt and mounting violence.

    The Palestinians have completely taken over and twisted the terms of discussion.

    Lieberman and Netanyahu have received as strong a mandate as Israel’s fractured polis and electoral system can deliver.

    “Harsh” words are necessary to reset and recalibrate the debate.

    Being “shocked” and “dismayed” is a stock technique of PC victimology politics – the means by which left-wingers control debate before it even happens.

    I hope he keeps opening is mouth.

  • Isn’t the reality that Lieberman will have as much to do with Bibi’s foreign policy as Biden has in shaping Obama’s economic program?

  • Yup. But he can still open his big mouth and he can influence Bibi with his 15 seats because effectively it’s veto power.

  • @froylein I was actually thinking about the Russian Jews in Germany as a point for future exploration and your succinct commentary (as always) has spurred my thinking. Being a trade expert by day, I want to look into Israel/Germany trade; I didn’t realize sympathy still tied the two countries together so strongly.

    @ben-david He can be harsh as long as he is effective. If he manages to isolate Israel in the world spectrum (which, given the love the world has for Israel currently, wouldn’t be too hard), it might be worse, in spite of his honesty and clear-cut mandate.

    @Tom Morissey and themiddle Too bad he doesn’t have as many lovable gaffes as Biden. I am always on edge waiting to see what Joe says next.