Photo: Meir Azoulay
Mofaz and Livni
Photo: Meir Azoulay
Obama and Clinton
Photo: AP

Just like in America?

Amnon Levy compares Livni-Mofaz contest to Hillary Clinton’s faceoff against Barak Obama

We were so jealous of the Democratic Party in the United States that we invented a local, sweaty version of the major clash between the black man and the white woman. It is true that when the names Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are translated to Shaul Mofaz and Tzipi Livni there is great risk of the charm evaporating, certainly in the heavy heat of August, yet we can still boast a semi-interesting battle around here too.


Here too, if you insist, we are facing a historic precedent, as we never had a prime minister of Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) decent. Mofaz will be the first one should he be elected. And if we don’t insist on counting Golda Meir (just because she so much enjoyed being nicknamed “the only man in the government”) we have another mini-precedent here: An almost-first woman in this post.


Indeed, the American model looks much better, and Barack Obama would commit suicide had he seen the comparison to Mofaz (or at least he would rewrite the note he placed at the Western Wall, replacing it by a desperate plea to God that nobody would ever make such comparison). Yet despite the limitations, let’s take on this comparison.


The large newspapers, which smell the precedent, commissioned polls regarding the public’s preferences, and particularly the preference of Kadima voters – as it turns out, Livni is leading. However, Hillary was also leading at the polls initially, and look how it ended. In short, everything is wide open. A month and a half in the Israeli heat conditions are akin to eternity.


What do the two bring to the contest? Livni brings a mystery. Very few people know who she really is and what she’s worth. Her pleasant manner and the restraint that characterizes her are a fresh breeze in the brutal swamp of Israeli politics. Yet who can really say whether she’s the right person for this tough job? Who can be sure that she has what it takes to carry this tough country on its shoulders?


The objection to the Second Lebanon War is to her credit. She’s the almost only government member who expressed reservations about the war right at the outset, and later proposed not to expand it. She, the woman, understood what the generals in the government couldn’t see: The folly of this war.


Yet the fact that she did not fight for this position goes against her. She didn’t insist and possibly didn’t even try to convince the prime minister. She was thinking the right things and presented them to the government, but she didn’t act – this means she could be a successful columnist, but a prime minister needs much more than that. She is accused of being hesitant and unable to make calls, and after all, this job is all about making decisions, most of them tragic. How can we elect her?


Advantage of uncertainty

Yet she is facing Shaul Mofaz. The man who sent oil prices up with idiotic statements about Iran and who irresponsibly escalated our relationship with it. The man who promoted targeted assassinations but insisted on declaring that the IDF is the world’s most moral army. The man who is no stranger to any worn-out cliché and who makes Bibi Netanyahu look like an island of sanity and diplomatic moderation. History is making fun of us by making him the Mizrahi who reached the closest to becoming prime minister.


So who shall we elect? The enigmatic and hesitant woman who has yet to prove herself and there’s no telling what she’ll be doing, or the “black man” who gave us plenty of evidence why we should stay away?


I think the answer is clear. This isn’t America, and this is where the comparison ends. Here we always vote for those who have not yet failed. We don’t vote for those who already succeeded, because after all, who has been able to succeed on this job? Who has been able to leave this post happy and in good spirits, with him and the public certain that he did his best? We don’t know anything negative about Tzipi Livni (for the time being,) and this is a good reason to elect her. And besides that, if we insist, we can see something positive in her indecision, and say that a hesitant prime minister is a certain indication of responsibility. Look at Levi Eshkol for example.


If she’s elected by Kadima, the advantage of uncertainty will play in her favor. On elections day, we will have Benjamin Netanyahu, who failed and was unceremoniously ousted from power, Ehud Barak who also failed and was ousted, and Tzipi Livni, who thus far has been able to hide who she is. Do you have any doubt who we shall be voting for?


פרסום ראשון: 08.04.08, 17:43
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