He’s been in the job less than a week, but the media attacks on Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and the misrepresentation of his actual positions, are startling, as this cartoon from The Jerusalem Post points out.
For example, Lieberman did not (as reported by the BBC and other media) reject a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in his maiden address as foreign minister on Wednesday. On the contrary, he explicitly endorsed the Road Map, an internationally sanctioned document from 2003 that is designed to lead to a two-state solution. The formal name of the Road Map is “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” (You can scroll down here for an article by Daniel Pipes for more on this.)
But as Jeff Jacoby points out, The Associated Press called Lieberman’s speech a “scathing critique of Mideast peace efforts” that had diplomats “cringing,” while other reports said Lieberman had “dropped a political bombshell,” “sparked an uproar,” “repudiated a key accord,” and “reinforced fears.”
The New York Times pronounced Lieberman’s remarks “blunt and belligerent,” describing the foreign minister as a “hawkish nationalist” who is “not known for diplomacy” and heads an “ultranationalist” party that is “seen by many as racist.” Headlines summed up Lieberman’s debut as an attack on peacemaking: “Lieberman dashes peace hopes,” “Israeli official hits peace efforts,” “Lieberman dumps peace deal.”
Lieberman’s actual positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not “ultranationalist” or “Fascist”; they are actually closer to the center ground, and his statements are far less incendiary than statements regularly made by “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and even by some Israeli Labor party politicians. It is just that the most of the Western press doesn’t bother to report those.