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Avigdor Liberman Responds to Journalist’s Lies

Published on: December 25, 2012

Little Journalist/Big Liar

I was gratified to see that last week Nachum Barnea dedicated to me a significant part of his weekly column, which could be called “Diary of a Relentless Liar.”  I did not know whether to laugh or cry when faced with the degree of prejudice and falsity of an “Israel Prize for Journalism” laureate when it came to Russians, Ethiopians or Jerusalemites – anyone who was not part of his own milieu.

Barnea wrote in his column: “A few months ago Avigdor Liberman , then foreign minister, took his friends, a large group of business-people from Jerusalem, on a  trip to the Republic of Srpska. One participant reported his experience: … the beauty of Banja Luka, the capital city . . . The Jerusalemites, whose of experiences extend from Teddy Stadium to the Machane Yehuda Market, did not cease to admire … “.

Indeed, in September I went with a group of friends for a “Fathers and Sons” trip to the Balkans. Most of the children on the tour were post-army service.  It was a wonderful trip, visiting places mentioned in the stories of the much-revered author, Ivo Andric.  The famous director Amir Kusturica, a committed Andric fan himself, guided us through certain parts of the tour.  This trip stretched across three countries: Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia – Herzegovina.  The Republic of Srpska is an autonomous region in Bosnia – Herzegovina. Banja Luka is indeed the district capital of the Republica of Srpska.  But this trip, Barnea’s exciting description notwithstanding, did not include Banja Luka, as it is not mentioned in Andric’s stories.

To return to Barnea’s article: This “group of Jerusalem business-people” incuded Three Haifians, a Tel Avivian, a resident of Rishon L’Tzion, a resident of Nokdim, someone from Brussels, one from Kishinev, and two Jerusalemites.

It’s no secret that the Balkans are one of my favorite areas for sightseeing. I love the outdoors and hiking and rafting are two of my greatest pleasures.  Apparently these pastimes are unacceptable to Barnea.

It is true that I was the first Israeli foreign minister to visit Bosnia – Herzegovina and to visit every Balkan, Eastern, and Central European country.  Some say that this indeed was the reason for Bosnia-Herzegovina’s decision not to support the Palestinian bid for full membership to the UN – although the Palestinians had been counting on its vote in the UN Security Council.  Bosnia – Herzegovina voted once again against the Palestinians in their bid for non-member status.  (Of course, it should be superfluous to mention that as foreign minister, it is impossible for me to conduct a non-publicized visit to a country such as Bosnia-Herzegovina.  During my four years as foreign minister, I was able to visit the Balkans only twice in an official capacity and once on the tour I have already mentioned.)

If Barnea had chosen to study the issue, he would have seen that the largest cluster of countries that either supported Israel’s position or abstained from the UN General Assembly vote on Palestinian non-member status ranged from Prague to Kishinev.  For example, the Czech Republic was the only country in Europe that supported the Israeli position.  Albania was the world’s only Muslim state to abstain.  Moldova was the only country from the Former Soviet Union that abstained. The Baltic States such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and others did not support the Palestinians.

In another passage in the same column, Barnea writes that “Liberman also has a special relationship to Moldova, the country of his birth.  During his tenure as foreign minister, he allowed only one country to grant Israeli citizens the title of honorary consul: Moldova.  The Israeli who received the honorary title was not a former Moldovan – despite the fact that many reside in Israel, but the Jerusalem businessman Simo Tubol.”

Once again, Barnea did not do the minimal fact-checking.  Had he checked with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he would have discovered that during my tenure as foreign minister, 29 honorary consuls were appointed, mostly business-people.  Few of them had a birth connection to the country to which they were appointed.

In an earlier Barnea column published on Dec. 18, 2012, he wrote, “Danny Ayalon was ousted as deputy foreign minister but then returned to his position once it became clear that he may be required to testify …” As usual regarding Barnea, the connection between what he describes and reality is tenuous.  Danny Ayalon was not chosen to run as a Yisrael Beytenu candidate for the next Knesset.   However, he was at no point ousted from his role as deputy foreign minister.  Therefore, no one can claim that he was subsequently re-instated.  The plan had always been for him to remain in office until the formation of the next government.  Once it became clear that by law, the deputy foreign minister had to resign in a situation in which the foreign minister resigned, Danny Ayalon had to undergo the formality of resigning and then being re-appointed to the position he would keep until the formation of the next government.

On  13.01.2012, Barnea’s column strung together a tissue of lies in which I played tennis in Jerusalem and “five security personnel were deployed to secure the minister and the balls. They demanded of the guard at the entrance to keep the gate open in case they had to quickly evacuate the minister. When the guard said that he was not permitted to do that, they beat him up.  The guard was an Ethiopian immigrant.”

Putting to one side Barnea’s attempt to make me responsible for the behavior of the VIP Protection Unit guards, the incident never happened.   I looked into the matter and asked that both the Shin Bet Security Department and the Hebrew University (whose sports facilities I was using) investigate the matter.  I have official letters from the office of the director of the Shin Bet and the deputy director of security at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem stating clearly that no such incident ever occurred.

I may add that contrary to how Barnea paints me, I am not prejudiced against Ethiopian immigrants. I am proud to say that I was the first Israeli foreign minister to appoint an Ethiopian immigrant to the position of ambassador.

Barnea trusts that few people know the facts and take the trouble to look into the details. So column after column, week after week, Barnea can continue undisturbed with his lies

The above are just a few examples, a composite picture of the writings of a man obsessed and driven by hatred, who does not have a problem with distorting the truth.

I have publicly invited Barnea to file a libel suit against me.  I am willing to remove my immunity for such a case so that the court can officially rule that Barnea is a liar.

A journalist and a great liar

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