Saturday, September 18th | 13 Tishri 5782
When former foreign minister and head of Israel’s Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman replaced the highly respected Moshe Yaalon as defense minister in 2016, there was a public uproar, with many believing the famously pugnacious right-winger would be a disaster.
That hasn’t proven to be the case. The usually outspoken Lieberman has mostly kept his mouth shut, and has done little to break from his predecessor's generally moderate if still hawkish policies.
All of this underlines the ambiguity of Lieberman as a public figure. Born in the Soviet Union, the former Likud activist formed the mostly-Russian Yisrael Beiteinu in opposition to the land-for-peace policy, but has since come out in favor of territorial compromise.
Though deeply right-wing, he supports ending the Orthodox monopoly on religious affairs in Israel. He is pro-gay rights and has promoted them in the IDF while defense minister.
Lieberman, in other words, despite decades of ferocious rhetoric, remains a political enigma. (Photo credit: Israeli government.)