, whose ultranationalist party came in third place
in Israel's parliamentary elections this week, is being touted as a kingmaker, whose meteroic rise, for many, reflects a worrying shift to the right in Israeli politics.
Even some nationalists think he goes a bit too far, with his detractors labeling him an extremist
and an anti-Arab racist.
But that's not how they see him in Moldova, the land of his birth.
Members of Chisinau's dwindling Jewish community told RFE/RL's Moldova Service
that they were surprised to hear some call Israel's rising political star Avigdor Lieberman an "ultranationalist."
Ilya Mariash, who has met Lieberman and now runs Moldova's only Jewish newspaper "Yevreiskoye Mestechko," said that Lieberman was "balanced" and "nice," a man who never uses strong nationalist language when discussing politics.
Lieberman, the head of the "Yisrael Beiteinu" party, was born in Chisinau, then part of the Soviet Union, in 1958 and moved to Israel in 1978. He often returns to his native Moldova.
In July 2008, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin awarded him one of the country's highest distinctions, "The Order of Honor," for his role in strengthening ties between Israel and Moldova.
Thousands of Jews left Moldova after gaining independence in 1991. There are only several hundred Jews left in the country.