Is Lieberman a Closet Dove?

With the ascendancy of Avigdor Lieberman to the post of Defense Minister, politicians from across the spectrum were ready for the Russian right wing populist to start assassinating Hamas leaders as soon as he could.  Nearly every political pundit was convinced Lieberman as Defense Minister would ensure the state’s transition into some sort of neo-fascism.

All of these premonitions amounted to nothing.  “When there is a dispute between the integrity of the nation and the integrity of the land, then integrity of the nation is more important,” Lieberman said upon his swearing in as Defense Minister.  This line is not inconsequential and reaffirms his acceptance of the two-state solution.

So why is the right gleeful about Lieberman’s appointment and Ya’alon’s resignation?

Despite Lieberman’s expression of support for the two-state solution, there are some big differences between Ya’alon and Lieberman.

  1. Style
  2. Support for soldiers no matter what
  3. Ending the warping of the IDF’s crippling purity of arms
  4. The Civil Administration will now be run by Eli ben Dahan in following with the coalition agreement


This last point is highly consequential.  It is ultimately the Civil Administration that decides on building, zoning, and a host of other important matters in Judea and Samaria. Rabbi Eli ben Dahan, member of the Jewish Home party, will now be able to provide favorable zoning to communities long held back in Judea and Samaria, while helping to create structures that allow for increased building through the area.


“We are very happy with the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman,” says Meir Deutch of the Regavim organization. Regavim battles illegal Arab building throughout Israel.  In Judea and Samaria where the laws are antique and administered by the Defense Ministry, Lieberman’s appointment means the Arab flaunting of Israeli law can finally be addressed.

No Second Sharon

It is clear that members of the right are wary of a second coming of Sharon.  Lieberman may often times speak with bombastic rhetoric when it comes to Arabs, but is little trusted by those on the right in the reigns of power.  Land of Israel activists are cognizant that a Lieberman unchecked could flip and help push through a final status accord.  

Of course the new defense minister is not about to march to the beat of the Left, but in a world where international forces are gearing up to foist a “peace plan” on Israel, pressure on Israel’s less ideological right can turn someone like Lieberman into a perfect delivery man for the west’s neo-colonial aspirations in the Middle East.

The right has much to be thankful for in Lieberman’s appointment and yet remaining cautious and ready to check the newest member of the security cabinet is a strategy that remains necessary.

Why Have Israelis Dropped the Two State Solution?

A recent Democracy Institute poll shows support for annexation of Judea and Samaria equal to its opposition. Given the fact that Israelis have endured over 20 years of Oslo education, the poll seems to be indicative of changing attitudes towards Judea and Samaria.

If this poll is accurate, the question arises: What caused the Israeli public to change of course?

Gaza a Turning Point

The destruction and uprooting of Jewish communities in Gaza was hailed at the time as the best chance for peace.  Israelis trusted Ariel Sharon and even believed the security guarantees offered by the Bush administration. Over the following 10 years Israelis’ basic assumptions about the world have been proven false. Assumptions include the following:

  • Arabs are interested in stability
  • Secularism will win out
  • America can always be trusted
  • Giving up land will bring peace
  • Security experts know what they are talking about

Given the above list, Israelis see no reason to give up on Judea and Samaria.  More and more these territories are seen as an integral part of the Jewish nation. However, despite the positive change in attitude towards annexation, other results from the poll should caution those in the Land of Israel camp.

For example, 61% of the Israeli public disagrees with maintaining the status-quo.  This result can be seen as a positive affirmation that Israelis want to push some sort of solution forward.  The question for those in the National Camp, is whose solution?

Those on the Right should take the opportunity to push forward a clear plan of action in reference to annexation. The goal should be to win the support of the slight majority willing to undergo some sort of geopolitical change.  If not, amnesia of past events will eventually take over again and endanger Israel.


The Right needs to educate the country on Israel’s historical rights to all of the Land of Israel and what has been given up over the years.  The current culture in Israel and the geopolitical instability throughout the Middle East affords the country an opportunity to reverse some of the territorial setbacks that have occurred in the past.

Beit Wittenberg is the Key to Jerusalem

When walking down Hagai Street these days, the tension is palpable. Most people see the area as historically Muslim, but Hagai Street running North South to Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) had bustling Jewish population until the 1929 and 1936 riots.

Unlike the alleyways that shoot off of it, Hagai Street is a main avenue replete with shops as well as Muslim and Jewish communities. The violence in the last few days is nothing new except now it is turning deadly. Jews are being taunted, harassed, and yes stabbed to death.

I asked myself yesterday as I headed to Beit Wittenberg about the significance of why the violence seems to be circling around this specific area. True the Arab population has long been cheered into raging mobs bent on killing Jews, but why on Hagai Street and most specifically the Beit Wittenberg area.

For that a little background on the house is necessary.

Reb Moshe Wittenberg made Aliyah in 1882 at the age of 62, from the town of Wietebsk, in Belorussia. He brought with him 500,000 rubles to buy large property in Jerusalem’s Old City. With the help Eliezer ben Yehuda (the reviver of modern Hebrew) he negotiated with the Latin Church and bought the property. The property housed 20 Chabad families giving the complex renewed Jewish life.

Moshe Wittenberg died in 1899 and bequeathed the property to a communal hekdash (set aside), which was recorded by Turkish authorities. The residents continued to live their, yet were driven out in the riots that would consume Jerusalem and the Land of Israel in the decades that followed.

After being reacquired through the efforts of Ateret Cohanim, Ariel Sharon bought rights to use it as his house in order to fully demonstrate Jewish sovereignty over the Old City.

I have of course left out one exciting fact that I believe is key to understanding the central role this house and complex plays in Jerusalem’s unfolding redemption.

In recent years it has been discovered that Beit Wittenberg is in fact the same Mediterranean Hotel that Mark Twain stayed in during his visit to Israel in 1867. It was that hotel that contributed to the inspiration in the section about Israel in his memoir Innocents Abroad.

So why is this so relevant to a Jewish Jerusalem?

The memoir Innocents Abroad details the truth of the barrenness of the Land of Israel at the time of Mark Twain’s visit. It is a refutation of years of Arab propaganda that the Land of Israel had no Jews in it and was home to an indigenous Arab population. More than this, Mark Twain’s account stands as a memory of a crossroads in Jewish History, just prior to the beginning of the return of the “remnant of Israel.” It is that memory that the Arabs are attacking when they focus on the area around Beit Wittenberg.

Understanding this piece of history is key to understanding the war being raged against Jewish control in Jerusalem. It is a focused and concerted effort to wipe out not only Jewish History, but American historical dynamism in the Land of Israel that has closely united the Judea-Christian culture specific to the West and the rebirth of the Modern State of Israel.

The battleground is more than the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem or the hills of Judea and Samaria, it is in fact a war to protect the truth and facts of the past in order to use them as tools to hold onto our future.