MK Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu faction, unleashed an acerbic tirade against Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on his Facebook page Sunday. Lieberman and Likud / Yisrael Beytenu support Moshe Lion, who is challenging Barkat in the upcoming municipal elections. Lion also has the backing of the Shas party.
On Wednesday, Barkat slammed Shas politicians for releasing a statement that the party's rabbis support Lion, as mayor in the upcoming municipal elections – just two days after the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z”tzl. He also said that the reason Lieberman is trying to unseat him is that he refused to make a political appointment that Lieberman wanted him to make.
Lieberman noted that Barkat never had anything bad to say about him and his party or about Shas, and sat with the parties' represnetatives in the municipal coalition, until they decided to support Lion.
"Therefore it is clear that Barkat is a racist and arrogant and that he sees the role of all the immigrants from the Commonwealth [of Independent States] and the mizrachi Jews as serving their master, and no more than that,” wrote Lieberman in an unusually shrill attack. “As long as they obey him, then they are behaving in a normatve fashion and worthy of praise, but if they adopt an independent position then they are criminals, disqualified, and unworthy of the values of democracy.”
Lieberman quoted past words of praise that Barkat had for Lion, when Lion served as the Chairman of the Authority for Development of Jerusalem, as evidence that “Barkat does not care at all about the truth.”
“The damages that Barkat has caused Jerusalem are so numerous that if I had to write them all, you would not finish reading this post until the evening fell,” wrote Lieberman.
Noting that Barkat has accused “people who contributed a little more than he has to the state” of corruption, Lieberman notes the adage that says that “a person who has butter on his head should not walk in the sun.” Barkat has “an entire bucket of butter” on his head, he adds, and says that Barkat sent private investigators to spy on former high-ranking police officer (and current MK) Mickey Levy when he thought Levy might run against him for the mayor's post.
Lieberman is considered a master politician and usually keeps his calm, even in the face of great pressure. The emotional attack on Barkat is not typical of his public style.