(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman caused a political storm on Tuesday when he declared the Left responsible for all the lives lost in the Arab-Israeli conflict and for everything wrong with the country.
Lieberman, speaking to Army Radio, was responding to calls by the left-wing group Gush Shalom to boycott musicians who performed at a Sunday event commemorating 40 years since the resettlement of Gush Etzion in the West Bank.
"All our troubles, all our problems, all our victims are because of those people," Lieberman said, referring to the Left. "I have no complaints against the Arabs or against the world. My claims are aimed against those in the Israeli Left, who are trying to break us from within at any cost and to breach every consensus."
A Gush Shalom ad said the artists Idan Raichel, Ehud Banai and Eti Ankri and the band Hamadregot became "mercenaries of the settlers - not even out of ideological identification, but simply because they were paid large sums of money."
The ad also called Lieberman an "extreme racist."
In his response, Lieberman said: "When I hear about prominent left-wing figures calling to boycott artists appearing at the Gush Etzion festival, I think that saying they are like the Hellenists would be an understatement."
Lieberman's analogy referred to Jews from the Second Temple period who were influenced by the culture of Greece and often abandoned their Jewish identity and tenets.
"Gush Etzion is the widest Zionist consensus," Lieberman said. "The governments that established it were all from the Left. To talk about Gush Etzion as if it were an illegal settlement - this is baseless hatred."
Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer complained about Lieberman's statements to the Knesset Ethics Committee, which is led by Meretz MK Haim Oron, while Labor and Meretz MKs lashed out at the strategic affairs minister.
Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines called Lieberman a "fascist" and said he had quit the government because he could not sit around the same cabinet table with him.
Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said Lieberman should look at the number of Israelis killed before and after 1967 and understand the price Israel paid for occupying the territories. He said that only someone "twisted" could blame Israel's bloodshed on peace agreements.
"If Lieberman the Maccabee resorts to incitement, he should remember the destruction that inciteful zealots like him brought upon us," Meretz faction chair Zehava Gal-On said.