'Demagogue' Makes Waves in Israeli Race

Wants oath of loyalty to Jewish state from Israeli Arabs
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 9, 2009 10:10 AM CST
Supporters of Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman wave Israeli and party flags during a campaign event yesterday.   (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
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(Newser) – A Russian immigrant dead set on loyalty to a Jewish state is gaining ground in Israel's parliamentary elections, the New York Times reports. While he won’t likely be the next prime minister, Avigdor Lieberman is “the story of this election,” says a local journalist. Focusing on Israeli Arabs who want a more equal, less Jewish, state, Lieberman vows to require citizens to sign an oath acknowledging that Israel is Jewish and democratic.

Lieberman recently passed the current defense minister to take third place in polls. “The biggest boost his campaign had were pictures of Israeli Arabs waving Hamas flags during the Gaza war and shouting ‘Death to the Jews,’” said another journalist. Establishment politicians see him as a “demagogue,” the Times says, but he’s no typical right-winger: He's not religious and wants a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.