Liberman apologizes for Yiddish 'veibers' remark

Yisrael Beytenu Avigdor Liberman backtracks on mocking "Polish blabbermouths" comment against females of Center-Left.

December 16, 2012 17:54
2 minute read.
Shelly Yacimovich with Tzipi Livni

Shelly, Livni 370. (photo credit: Facebook)


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Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman not only resigned as foreign minister on Sunday, he also resigned himself to going to “time out” for name-calling.

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.

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“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 Polish.”

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 time.

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.

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The term “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 noise.”

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.

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