This morning I received word that an unusual event was about to take place. Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Yvette Lieberman was coming to visit in Hebron.
Why unusual? Numerous diplomats, including ministers and MKs visit Hebron fairly frequently. What was different this time was the personality, the visitor. I have no recollection when was the last time Lieberman visited Hebron.
He lives in Gush Etzion, about a half hour from here. He’s had fairly significant positions for quite a while, but doesn’t frequent Hebron.
Actually, immediately after leaving his car, surrounded by a mass of pushing, shoving cameras, he stopped for a moment and revealed the reason of this visit. He told that on election day, in 1996, when he was one of Netanyahu’s chief honchos, after the polls closed, when the results weren’t looking great for Bibi, he decided to come to Ma’arat HaMachpela in Hebron. Poignantly he described receiving a phone call while standing on the outside stairs, with information that the numbers seemed to have changed, that Bibi was winning.
His party entered the building, prayed, and upon leaving received another call saying that the results were final. Bibi was PM. (Big smile).
So, it seems that this time the former FM decided to come and pray before that fact, rather than after.
The big question is, what was he praying for?
Various articles are showing the Likud Beitenu party forming a coalition with the ‘Center Left,’ preferring Mufaz, Livni and Lapid to Shas and Bennett.
Maybe he was praying for enough votes to be able to put that together.
Or maybe he has information we don’t, showing that his party could conceivably lose.
Doesn’t seem likely.
But he did announce that should he be convicted of fraud, he will leave politics. Guys like Lieberman really don’t want to walk away from jobs like his. So maybe he was praying for acquittal.
He didn’t tell anyone. But, in the Abraham and Sarah hall, after chasing out the reporters and photographers, following some Psalms and afternoon Mincha prayers, a special prayer of thanksgiving, recited every Shabbat, was repeated, praising G-d for all his goodness.
Noam Arnon and I tried to get in a word edgewise. We both, briefly, mentioned the disgraceful situation at Machpela due to the refusal to allow us to roof the open courtyard. A few days ago the useless tent above the courtyard dripped water and snow onto prayer books and chairs, soaking everything. Usually, during heavy rain, the site floods.
Lieberman heard us, and murmured something about ‘remembering’ this. I wasn’t overly impressed.
Leaving the building, again being photographed from every which direction, he refused to say anything to the many journalists who had been invited to participate in the visit. Lieberman also didn’t see any necessity to visit any of the other sites, or neighborhoods in Hebron. He jumped into his car and drove off.
We had some other questions for him, but didn’t have a chance to ask. For example, his statement that the ‘2- state solution’ will be a pillar of the next Netanyahu government’s policy. We wanted to know what, in his opinion, would happen to Ma’arat HaMachpela and Hebron should this policy be, G-d forbid, implemented.
But we didn’t get a chance to ask.
Before elections politicians tend to do strange things that would never enter their minds to do at any other time. Like, in this case, come to Hebron. It would have been nice had the former FM exclaimed, even during an election campaign, that ‘Hebron with be Jewish forever’, or ‘we will never abandon our Patriarchs and Matriarchs.’ But, nyet. Nada.
I sort of got the feeling that Lieberman was playing an updated version of reverse Russian roulette. Spinning the barrel, letting the bullet fall into place and then pull the trigger. Come into Hebron, mutter some words at a holy place, and then wait for the results, hoping the prayers hit home.
I have another feeling that Avigdor Yvette Lieberman is going to need more than that before he’s able to take his seat in the next government. Otherwise, he’s liable to take a seat next to Katzav in Ramla, the place left empty when Deri went home.
Click here to return to Blog home page