Tzipi Livni
Photo: AFP

Can a woman lead Israel?

Livni’s rivals seem to imply that a woman cannot lead a state facing war threat

Tzipi Livni tops the polls as the favored premiership candidate, and the doomsday weapon being used against her by those who are not doing as well is one that we thought already died off a while ago along with the ethnic demon and other irrelevant demons: A woman, say the other candidates, simply cannot run a state facing an existential threat such as Israel.


Indeed, nobody really dares express it that way openly. It’s being whispered behind closed doors or conveyed in anonymous briefings with journalists. It is politically correct to say that Livni is weak, can’t withstand the pressures, too sensitive, and too soft. The interpretation of this for those who fail to get the hint is completely macho: Someone who has no balls, or at least a combat history that includes some Arab skulls, won’t be able to address the Iranian threat and certainly won’t be able to combat Arab terrorists as her manly predecessor succeeded in doing.


At least if there was evidence or proof to justify this super argument. At least if we could have praised our men for the stunning success on the battlefield: Barak the man and his success in handling the al-Aqsa Intifada, Sharon the man and his work vis-à-vis Hizbullah’s buildup in the north, not to mention the real man, Benjamin Netanyahu, who truly proved himself in the Jerusalem tunnel riots in 1996 that left 16 soldiers dead.


Yet we don’t even have such evidence, which still does not prevent men from raising their heads up, displaying their peacock feathers, and taking us back to days when men were hunters and woman were gatherers.


Any rookie advertising executive knows that even the most terrible product and most baseless argument can be pushed into people’s consciousness. What we need is a sophisticated marketing scheme and mostly a wise utilization of the mantra system. If you repeat the same nonsense a thousands times in a thousands different ways, eventually there will be someone out there who will buy into it.


Soon they will probably bring up Golda Meir. There, look at what happened to us when they let a woman run this country. The fact that the men who followed her didn’t quite complete their tenure with distinction won’t stop this argument from continuing to pervade, of course.


Middle Ages are over

Tzipi Livni is currently taking a prominent place not as much because of her abilities, but more so because the men around her do not quite arouse any appetite or a sense of security among potential voters. She still needs to prove to us that she’s ready and deserving, but there is no room for demanding that she undergo a sex-change operation. The world, and the State of Israel within it, is a much more complex and diverse place than what it used to be when rulers armed with swords charged on horseback en route to conquering the next target.


Political commentators point to two major manly strongholds in the war against Livni as a woman. One comes from the direction of former Shin Bet director and current Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter – the man who managed to turn the appointment of a new police chief into an embarrassing farce. And the second one, how could it be otherwise, is the man who Israel’s leading political satire show identified a longtime ago as Shaul “manly man” Mofaz, reflecting his prominent political characteristic.


Apparently, both Mofaz and Dichter are no less qualified than Livni to be a prime minister. Yet they should be managing the political war against her like real men of the 21st Century, rather than like men of the Middle Ages. 


פרסום ראשון: 05.26.08, 09:50
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