Male-dominated interests prevented Hillary Clinton from being elected as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in the United States, and are also preventing Tzipi Livni from assuming Kadima’s leadership.
Clinton had no chance of being elected, as I argued back at the beginning of the race when her election seemed certain. In the chauvinist US, Barack Obama was “invented” by the party’s leadership (and apparently by powerful interests behind it) in order to defeat Clinton, yet now that she lost we can expect him to be shown the way out, after he did the dirty work.
In the US, a country where slavery persisted in the not-too-distant past, they will allow a black man to defeat a woman, but not to be the supreme leader. That is, Republican candidate McCain will likely win the elections and aggressive American capitalism will be preserved by white men, its disciplined representatives who loyally promote the arms and oil industries.
On the other hand, Clinton’s agenda and work, similarly to other female politicians, is related to the areas of education and health. These areas require big money, the money needed by the Bushes, Kennedys, and Reagans to buy their supporters in the wealthy industries.
The Democratic Party’s campaign exposed the media’s enlistment against Clinton. Sever Plocker noted this in his article, where he argued that the media was hostile to Clinton throughout, yet despite this she managed to defeated Obama in all the important states with the exception of one.
Meanwhile, the campaign against the replacement of Ehud Olmert by Tzipi Livni is an illuminating example of how male members of the political establishment and media in Israel have enlisted to prevent the country being run by a woman. We saw an illustration of this in discussions that emerged recently regarding Livni’s security credentials that fostered hidden de-legitimization in the face of her path to the premiership.
Contemptuous attitudeIt is no surprise that Livni, who proposed alternatives of dialogue to the Lebanon war, a war that became a symbol of the failure of the ruling generals, is not a desired figure in their view. The reasons and implications of the male media’s enlistment against Livni were well expressed by Orna Kazin: “The attitude shown by journalist Ben Caspit (who wrote that Livni is “at most fit to be the head of the Women's International Zionist Organization”) and his colleagues to Livni - disparaging, contemptuous, and condescending – teaches us about the manner in which the male-dominated system pushes women away from positions of power…”
Under the current circumstances, Olmert must quit (or at least suspend himself) and handing over the premiership to his deputy is the obvious option in the eyes of those who care about the general good, rather than their own or their party’s good. Such transfer of power would guarantee a smooth, cheap, and publicly proper shift, yet this option is being silenced and marginalized.
Hence, the responsibility for the dangerous political vertigo lying in wait belongs to the media. It is the media that apparently sees the action, intrigue, and corruption associated with elections, the kind of stories that can fill newspapers for long months.
On the other hand, if the advancement of Dalia Itzik and Tzipi Livni would contributed to ending this male-inducted witch-hunt and to the transfer of power from Olmert to Livni, perhaps we shall finally see leadership of women who are also interested in education and social causes, dialogue and openness, resolving economic, social, and existential security questions, and not only in supporting imaginary defense budgets and ego-filled operations in the territories, in Lebanon, and in the Strip.
Dr. Esther Herzog heads the Anthropology Dept. at the Beit Berl College and is the founder of the Women’s Parliament