Tzipi Livni, who bid farewell to politics this week, won’t be Israel’s de Gaulle. She will not be the leader that shakes us out of our collective slumber. Today, it is difficult to imagine any other Israeli leader having the desire to even try.
It’s strange to consider that a mere decade ago, Tzipi Livni and her Kadima party won the Israeli elections. Yet 10 years after Benjamin Netanyahu pushed her into the opposition back benches, Livni tearfully announced on Monday that she will not be running for the upcoming Knesset elections. Polls show her Hatnuah party wouldn’t make it past the election threshold and running anyway could potentially siphon votes from a center-left bloc that seeks to overthrow Netanyahu.
Following her resignation, Israel’s liberal commentators commended her undying commitment to a two-state solution to preserve Israel as “both Jewish and democratic.” But beyond the left-leaning intelligentsia, her resignation went on with little fanfare. At a time where the right’s twin policies of endless occupation and creeping annexation go entirely unchallenged, it is hardly surprising that few are rushing to write Livni’s requiem.
After all, in every election since 2009, Livni was a politician who, try as she might, simply couldn’t get things to go her way, jumping from party to party and forging puzzling alliances in an attempt to hold on to political relevancy. Yet when it came to what my colleague Dahlia Scheindlin calls doing the “politics of politics,” Livni failed time and time again.
Had things turned out differently, her life story would have been the stuff Hollywood kitsch is made of: born to right-wing parents who fought in the ranks of the Irgun terrorist group during the 1948 war, Livni went on to serve in the Mossad and become a member of Knesset on behalf of Likud. That is, until she realized the effect the occupation has on Israeli society, and particularly its threat to Israel’s ability to preserve a Jewish majority and still call itself a democracy.Read More