Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni’s unprecedented outburst against Prime Minister Netanyahu to an American audience, in my opinion, warrants Kadima calling for her immediate resignation as party leader.
Livni’s eruption was unconscionable. I was amongst those calling on both the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition to set aside their personal and political ambitions and form a unity government to promote the national interest. However Livni’s recent outburst has crossed all red lines and makes this impossible.
In an extensive interview with James Bennett, editor of the influential US journal The Atlantic and Jeffrey Goldberg, a prominent American Jewish journalist, Livni explicitly praised President Obama for pressuring Prime Minister Netanyahu and shamelessly urged the American Administration to intensify pressure on the Israeli government.
She went further and, in a remark she will have cause to regret, even raised the sensitive issue of dual loyalties, a major plank in previous anti-Semitic campaigns.
Livni implied that Prime Minister Netanyahu is creating a situation in which American Jews could be compromised by being obliged to choose sides. The Israeli Opposition Leader said “the Prime Minister, deliberately or not, puts Americans into a very complicated situation… in which they need to choose a side, and they don’t want to be in this situation.” She went on to say “it’s a nightmare because we are actually on the same side…We cannot afford this. This is something new. It forced American Jews to take sides.”
It does not require Livni to tell us that American Jews desperately wish to avoid a confrontation with their President over Israel. It truly is a nightmare for them.
But Livni is essentially saying that Netanyahu should have capitulated on basic security issues and become a vassal of the Obama administration.
Alternatively, she is advising American Jews to bury their heads and not exercise their democratic rights as American citizens to express dissent if they consider that their President is acting shabbily towards Israel.
What makes this even more offensive is that, were Livni occupying the role of Prime Minister, with possibly minor nuances, she too would be obliged to resist the heavy handed one-sided pressures being imposed on the Jewish state by President Obama. Indeed, setting aside the right and left wing extremes of both Likud and Kadima, there is in reality no ideological differences of substance separating them.
Tzipi Livni told The Atlantic that she retains the revisionist values and traditions of her parents who were staunch disciples of Menahem Begin.
Prior to 1967 Begin and his party were regarded with contempt by the Mapai labor establishment which brutally discriminated against them and treated them like pariahs.
Yet when abroad and asked about government policies from Jews and non-Jews alike, Begin had a standard answer. “I am a loyal Israeli and currently leader of the opposition. When I travel abroad I will never condemn the policies of my government. Our political differences will be fought out in Israel and determined at elections by the Israeli people.”
To his credit, Netanyahu in opposition, particularly during the Lebanon war and Gaza conflict, offered his services to the government making a major contribution towards presenting the case of Israel to the world.
Today we stand at the crossroads. We face genuine existential threats as our neighbors arm themselves with the most lethal weapons which they direct at our major population centers. Our Arab neighbors are engulfed in civil disorders which are leading to a strengthening of Islamic fundamentalist elements, even threatening our long standing peace treaty with Egypt. And in addition we have a US president who has gone out of his way to appease our enemies whilst exerting maximum pressure on us.
Surely this is a time for politicians to set aside their grubby partisan political and personal interests and unite in the interest of the nation.
People power is being expressed in the streets to pressure our politicians to pay greater attention to social welfare and needs of society and may hopefully ultimately succeed in positive results. But similar public outrage should be directed against politicians like Tzipi Livni who ignore the looming threats to our existence and carry on with her personal agenda.
If we had a more responsible electoral system in which we could reward and punish our representatives, politicians would not dare to behave in such a despicable manner.