Why Lieberman is scared of Geneva Initiative

Why Lieberman is scared of Geneva Initiative

By Yossi Verter, via Haaretz 
09.12.11
 
Yossi Verter, political analyst from Haaretz, discusses why the real reason why Lieberman is scared of the Geneva Initiative - fear of loosing his base support in the Russian community. 
 
[Excerpt] 
 
This week, the new, seemingly softened, NGOs law which was concocted by MK Faina Kirshenbaum, Yisrael Beiteinu's strongwoman, and Likud MK Ofir Akunis, reached the desks of Europe's ambassadors to Israel. They were amazed to discover that the law's preamble refers to Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, Germany and Ireland as "foreign states that intervene in the State of Israel's internal discourse, with the intention of delegitimizing the activities of the IDF and its soldiers."
 
The ambassadors aren't surprised by Kirshenbaum. But they say Akunis would never have signed the bill without Netanyahu's consent. They are convinced that the prime minister still speaks through Akunis, his former spokesman. This week, Akunis declared that U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, who spearheaded anti-communist witch-hunts in the mid-20th century, "was right in every word" when he claimed there were Soviet agents in the United States. The MK identifies himself as "someone who was educated by Jabotinsky's doctrine," and also as "someone who grew up under the influence of Menachem Begin." Not long ago, he exclaimed "I am a Beginite." It's not clear where in Begin and Jabotinsky's writings he finds the sources of his ignorance and stupidity.
 
Kirshenbaum is not a Beginite; she is a Liebermanite, from head to toe. And she'll fight for the new NGO like a lioness. Furthermore, she and Lieberman are not trying merely to hunt down anti-Zionist NGOs, or pro-Palestinian organizations that operate in Israel which receive foreign donations. They have one very specific target: the Geneva Initiative, which brings together Israeli and Palestinian players to prepare "public opinion and leadership to be accepting of the real compromises required to solve the conflict," according to their website.
 
About a month ago, Lieberman stated in a meeting with European Union ambassadors: "There's no problem with the Geneva Initiative organization and its positions. But this is a matter that Israeli citizens should decide about, not foreign governments. The activity it [the Geneva Initiative] undertakes with the Russian public should not receive foreign funding. It is trying to influence this public." Lieberman was referring to Russian-language political posters put up by the group.
 
Also, three weeks ago, he brought up the organization in an interview with Yaron Dekel on Israel Radio. "It receives millions of euros, dollars and Swiss franks from foreign governments for one purpose: to change the voting patters of Israel's public," he said.
 
I asked Kirshenbaum why such a strong political party needs to invest time in an effort as negligible as the Geneva Initiative.
 
"You're taking one of many examples," she said. "I wouldn't build an agenda just on Geneva. The Russian-speaking public reads Israeli and Russian newspapers. They've learned how to deal with, and understand, an array of data. But it's a fact that an organization such as Geneva receives foreign funds and tries to use them to change the political map of Israel."
 
I asked her about the fact that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has said that the bill is not legal.
 
"Weinstein's judgment relates to previous bills, not to the new law," she said. "When he states his opinion about the new law, then I'll respond."