Israel’s defence minister was in London this week, urging British Jews to take a lead role in the “battle of public opinion” on Israel and the Middle East.
Speaking in front of a 100-strong audience at the Pillar Hotel on Thursday night, Avigdor Lieberman urged the UK community to argue for Israel.
Being interviewed by Alan Mendoza of think tank, the Henry Jackson Society during an event hosted by JNF UK, Lieberman said : “One of the major battles is about public opinion. We need the support of the Jewish communities in this field, especially in the UK. In my hotel, I opened my TV, and I saw that there were more Arabic channels than English channels. I was shocked.” He said “Your support is very very crucial.”
Reflecting on Israel’s regional challenges, the defence minister, who has previously held posts of deputy PM and foreign minister, said “You can see around us what happened in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, and despite these neighbours, it’s our obligation to provide security for everyone in the State of Israel.”
He said, “with all due respect to JNF“, it is “security and prosperity” that will encourage Jewish people will come to Israel, adding that “everybody understands that if something happens, they have only one safety refuge, and that is Israel.”
The Soviet-born politician also reflected upon the “problem with our political system” referring to the coalition set-up as being “very complicated and inefficient”. He said the government had “to pay so high a price” to form, and called for a system, in which “the leader of the biggest party will be the next prime minister, without any bargaining.”
The defence minister, who arrived in Israel in the 1970s and became a baggage handler on his second day in the country, spoke of the Jewish state being “more America than America”, in terms of opportunities it could offer.
He said: “I came without ties, without any money, language, nothing. I started and on the second day my life in Israel as a porter in Ben Gurion Airport. To represent the State of Israel as Minister of Defence, it’s really the sky’s the limit.”
The Israeli defence minister has met with British and American counterparts during his UK visit this week, to discuss matters of security.