It seems that Avigdor Lieberman (אביגדור ליברמן), born in Russia as Evet Lvovich Liberman and immigrated to Palestine on June 18 1978, Israels Foreign Minister, who is famous for his radical as extremist views, has brought bad luck to quite and beautiful Vienna, as a strong storm swept through the city and left many trees uprooted and broken branches in the streets. The fire-fighting vehicles were busy and traveled with alarm sirens on to remove the broken branches and turned over trees from the streets, the day became dark as the night after the sun disappeared behind dark clouds, and strong gusts of wind lasted for the whole day. (Click on the picture to see it bigger).
Mr. Lieberman came to Vienna in company of dozens of Israeli journalists so that they could inflate the importance of his visit, which could be described as not bearing good fruits for Israel.
During the afternoon, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger held a press conference together with his counterpart, minister Lieberman, at the Austrian Foreign Ministry. The conference was attended in great part by the press delegation accompanying the Minister from Israel, in addition to a number of local journalists from press and TV, who made lots of pictures of the ministers, but who were not able to ask questions or to hear anything new or useful by minister Lieberman.
The reporters present at the “press conference” were allowed to ask Mr. Lieberman only two questions. I think that this is incompatible with how a press conference should be and with media freedom, but I suspect that this had to do with preventing embarrassing situations.
Mr. Liebermann, a Moldovan whose professional past includes experience working as a club bouncer, was unusually soft-spoken, even timid. The Minister Liebermann whom I saw yesterday was a far cry from the infamous extremist who makes everybody outside of the West bank squatter movement cringe with his tasteless and hate-laden diatribes and his continuous calls for ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians.
Judging by the menacing looks he received from his ambassador throughout the press conference, I suspect that he was keelhauled by the more professional people at the Israeli government before he get out of Israel, lest he would say something embarrassing before non-jews. Thankfully, Minister Liebermann spared the audience from hearing hate tirades and limited himself to the rote phraseology, “Israel is the only democracy …” and “we are giving humanitarian assistance to the people Gaza”.
Lieberman has been under investigation by authorities for several years. On 13 April 2011, Lieberman was charged by the State Prosecutor’s Office with four counts of misconduct: fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, and witness tampering.
Ministers Spindelegger and Lieberman arrived together at the reception at the corridor of the ministry. While the team of Minister Spindelegger was very much present and in control, to anybody who knows the record and past “performances” of Minister Lieberman, he came across like a deflated, empty, balloon. The signs of disappointment were clearly visible on his face. Lieberman tried to put a smile on his face, but he was not able to hide his disappointment. It seems that minister Lieberman heard during sessions behind closed doors something that was not comfortable for Israel, and this reflected on his expression and posture.
See video of press conference
The short speech held by Mr. Spindelegger at the beginning of the press conference gives some hints, through all the polite words of diplomacy, of what could have disappointed Liebermann. Minister Spindelegger welcomed his Israeli counterpart Lieberman. He said about a possible recognition of a Palestinian state by Austria, that Austria “had not yet made up its mind whether to support a UN recognition of a Palestinian state”, adding that he preferred to wait for a joint EU approach to the issue.
Minister Spindelegger said: “We will decide at the last moment because it might still give you the opportunity to bring the Middle East peace process back on track”. Given that Israel has engaged the USA to threaten the UN with defunding if they recognize a Palestinian state, the statement by Minister Spindelegger can be seen as a strong rebuff to whatever Liebermann wanted.
Minister Lieberman claimed that Iran “is using the Mideast unrest as the smoke screen to advance its missile and nuclear programs”. Answering a question about what Israel was going to do with the Flotilla going to Gaza, he said that Israel “urged the participants in the flotilla ships not to break the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza” (he meant the genocidal blockade imposed since 2006 on Gaza), to give up their plans and to deliver their aid to UN supervised ports for distribution, and to create an “acceptable way” in the isolated area. As an example he cited the Israeli port of Ashdod or the Egyptian port of El Arish to control the help supplies.
Last year, an Israeli criminal raid on a similar flotilla in international left nine peace activists killed on a Turkish vessel and dozens injured, and personal property like credit cards, computers, and cameras was either damaged or stolen by the israeli pirates. Click here to read more about Lieberman corruption and accusation.
During the stay of the Minister Lieberman, dozens of Palestinians and peace activists from “women in Black” demonstrated in front of the Austrian foreign ministry where the press conference was held. The demonstrators chanted “Nieder Nieder mit Lieberman) (down down with Lieberman). They held banners with slogans such as “Austria must vote for Palestinian State at United Nations”, “Lieberman is no nice man”, and “Lieberman go back home”.
Note: The pictures of the demo were donated by Austrian peace activist
Paula Abrams-Hourani and Engineer Said Khadra.