Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman not only resigned as foreign
minister on Sunday, he also resigned himself to going to “time out” for
The controversy began on Thursday, when Liberman spoke at
an event for young Yisrael Beytenu voters at the Fashion Bar in Tel Aviv. The
press came to hear him talk about his indictment, but got an added bonus when he
mocked the leaders of Center- Left and left-wing parties.
“I see these
three veibers attacking me, Tzipi Livni, [Labor leader] Shelly Yacimovich and
[Meretz leader] Zehava Gal-On – the Polish group,” Liberman quipped, before
correcting himself: “Actually, Zehava is Lithuanian, not
Liberman is a big fan of Yiddish, enjoys attending plays in the
language, and seems to be trying to teach it to Israelis one scandal at a
Nearly two years after introducing the Yiddish word feinshmeckers –
literally “gourmet,” but used to mean a snob or a prissy person – to the Israeli
vernacular by using it to describe Likud’s more liberal wing, Liberman now
brought in veibers, which literally means “wives,” but has a negative
connotation in Yiddish meaning chatterboxes or gossipers.
“Polish,” on the other hand, is often used in Israel as a derogatory term for
what Westerners would call a stereotypical Jewish mother – chronic worriers who
are prone to using guilt as a weapon.
“The three veibers attack me
furiously, but they aren’t really attacking me; they’re using me to fight one
another,” Liberman added.
Following criticism that the use of the word
veibers is sexist and his comments were offensive to those of Polish descent,
Liberman took to his Facebook to apologize – sort of.
“In Israeli public
life, which often deals with cardinal issues, as well as painful and serious
matters, it is a good idea, when possible, to sometimes spice things up with a
bit of humor,” the Yisrael Beytenu leader wrote.
“As someone who
appreciates Polish people in Israel and their great contribution over the years
to the country, and as someone who in the last election had a list that was
one-third female, I didn’t think a little joke would make so much
He added that “seriously, and not as a laughing matter, I
apologize for those who were offended by my joke.”
Liberman concluded his
Facebook post by punishing himself in the way a Polish veiber might expect,
writing “and now I’ll sit alone in the dark and think more about what I’ve done”
and punctuating it with a smiling emoticon.