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Finally, Israel has an opposition: Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah party

With all due respect to Meretz and Hadash … 

Until yesterday, the occupation was not an issue in the Israeli election campaign; the only parties running against it were Meretz and the non-Zionist, Arab or largely Arab slates, all of which are marginal to the country’s politics. But with Amir Peretz’s departure from the Labor Party for Hatnuah (The Movement), where he will be No. 3 after Tzipi Livni and Amram Mitzna, there is now a mainstream party with a critical mass of leadership material at the top whose focus is on ending the conflict with the Palestinians, and whose message is that it’s possible – that Israel has a partner for peace in Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

This is not to say Hatnuah could lead a left-center or even left-center-Arab bloc to defeat Netanyahu and the right-religious bloc in the January 22 elections. Bibi and Likud Beiteinu are going to lead the next government; that, as Noam Sheizaf wrote, is as certain as anything can be.

But what Hatnuah does is give Israel what it has needed and lacked like nothing else for these last several years: an opposition.  A pro-peace opposition that can push back against the inexorably rightward direction the country’s been taking. One that can put some other ideas in the air, that can suggest other future possibilities besides dictatorship and war. And finally, one that is big enough and whose leaders are prominent enough in the eyes of the general public to have an impact – and to be seen as a credible contender for power in the years ahead.

Hatnuah gives Israel a mainstream liberal camp, something that every Western democracy has, but which Israel hasn’t had since 2006. In that year the post-disengagement rocketing from Gaza convinced the public that the conflict was insoluble, that the best Israel could do was “manage” it, which has come to mean “cutting the grass” – Operation Whatever – every two or three years.

Since 2006, the National Camp has ruled exclusively; Israel has effectively become a one-party country, the party of dictatorship and war, with the only debate being between right and further right. By nature, this is a dynamic that keeps moving in one direction only. The current election campaign marked a giant leap rightward: Likud joined up with Yisrael Beiteinu, while both of the viable mainstream “opposition” parties – Shelly Yacimovich’s Labor and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid – lined up squarely behind the status quo in the occupied territories and sucked up to the settlers. These parties are not an opposition, and not “center-left,” either – they are part of that one big party and can’t wait to join Netanyahu and Lieberman’s next government.

So now comes Hatnuah. Like most everyone else, I have heavy doubts about Tzipi Livni as a political leader. But she still has national leadership stature (if not nearly as much as before), she was a serious, trusted peace negotiator opposite the PA as foreign minister, and she started Hatnuah (less than two weeks ago) on one issue: reviving the peace process. She backed up her words by choosing as her No. 2 Mitzna, who has proven his commitment to peace since his army days 30 years ago when he defied Sharon in the Lebanon War. Finally, she solidified the party by bringing in Peretz, who, as mayor of Sderot in the 80s, organized peace festivals in the Negev and used to go to Gaza to meet with Fatah elder statesman Haider Abdel Shafi – crazy, impossible stuff for that time and place. And his views haven’t changed.

But I have doubts about Peretz, too. He was a lousy Labor Party leader; at one point in the coalition wrangling he threatened to join forces with super-right-wing National Union. As defense minister in the Second Lebanon War, he ranted that “Hassan Nasrallah will remember the name Amir Peretz!” Like Livni, he has tremendous ambition, and there’s no guarantee it won’t get in the way of his political principles (which are clearer and stronger than Livni’s). But while ambition no doubt figured strongly in his decision to leave Labor, ideology did too;  one of the main, if not the main, reasons for his feud with Yacimovich was over her determined shift to the right.

What worries me the most about Hatnuah is Livni’s refusal to rule out joining the next prospective right-wing government; she claims she doesn’t have to prove herself on that score after turning down continual opportunities to be Netanyahu’s No. 2, and even forgoing a chance at being prime minister because she wouldn’t pay the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s price. But until she declares flatly that her party won’t join a right-wing-led government, there’s a possibility it will.

Another obvious worry is that Livni, as leader of Kadima for the first three years of the Netanyahu government, was about the weakest opposition leader imaginable. She was a dishrag when she was awake at all. As leader of the opposition in the next Knesset, she would either have to change dramatically or let Peretz do the talking and shouting.

I have no illusions – Livni, Peretz and Mitzna are all politicians (the first two much more than the third). They have to appeal, more or less, to the center if Hatnuah is to become a major party, so I can’t rule out the possibility that when the time comes, they’ll sell out, too. (Mitzna never has, but that’s no guarantee for the future.)

For a leftist, then, voting for Hatnuah is a risk – more of a risk than voting for Meretz or Hadash. But I feel that these are the sorts of times when one has to take risks – when the chance of striking a real ideological blow against the empire is so vitally necessary that it’s worth taking the risk – a small one, but still a risk – that you will, God forbid, end up striking a blow for it.

Something big and new happened yesterday: For the first time in a long time, we have a chance to make the bastards sweat. With all due respect to Meretz and Hadash, the only hope in this election on the Israel-Palestine front – pending developments, of course – is Hatnuah.

Read More:
Horse trading between centrist parties reveals leadership failure, looming loss 

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    1. O.Selznick

      Larry, Livni was the only one who outspokenly said she will not sit in a coalition with Netanyahu and will recommend the biggest party in the left-center bloc to build the coalition.

      Lapid and Yechimovitz have yet to make such announcements.

      Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        Under Olmert and Livni, Israel went to war twice.
        Under the present goverment, there has been one major skirmish/confrontation, a few weeks ago (it was certainly NOT a war).
        I do think Livni has the potential to be a good leader in the hostile enviroment in which Israel exists.
        I am also of the opinion that the Netanyahu Goverment has been mostly successful in guiding Israel through an extremely fraught period in the history of the Middle East.
        There have been no wars, the economy has proceeded nicely, and most of the world still hates Jews/Israelis.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Witty

      The merger of likud and Israel Beitanhu, was in addition to being a definitively right-wing/nut coalition, was an attempt to move Israel away from the multi multi party state towards an effective two or three party system.

      Israel has managed to affirm its democratic political form credentials in the form of peaceful transfer of power over an extended time, but has yet to affirm its democratic political credentials in the form of coherent platform based parties, instead “evolving” to a divided personality based party system.

      If Israel were to evolve to a functionally two-party system, then the next question is of where the more liberal party would stand. Center-center, center-left, liberal-left.

      I disagree that Netanyahu is definitively a shoe-in. A week ago that seemed the case without any doubt.

      This week, with the fairly dramatic dissent expressed by allies, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, even US, the degree of isolation in the world that the Netanyahu/Israel Beitanhu regime has engendered is naked.

      Risk averse conservatives are even questioning the wisdom of alienating ALL of Israel’s neighbors, and to breaking points (going so far as to vote FOR the PA resolution).

      And, Netanyahu is also exposed on the state of social equality, social justice, economic inequality, corruption in institutions.

      If the parties can articulate distinct contrasts with likud/Israel Beitanhu on international relations and domestic social well-being issues, then at some point Israelis will come to vote their interests, rather than their fears.

      Ending the occupation will always remain a means to an end for Israel, not an end for its own sake, though for those that are so motivated, more power to them. (In my life, most people that I knew opposed the Vietnam War because they didn’t want to be harmed, then secondarily didn’t want to be changed by military service, then didn’t want to harm. For some, not wanting to harm was first.)

      THIS is the time though. It is the time to form clear platform, priorities, educate representatives as to issues and political skill, and speak to the citizens, ALL of them.

      I hope that the election is close, so that to form a controlling coalition, Arab parties and constituencies would be invited to participate, and not be an afterthought.

      Would that happen? If the coalition were 48% to 45% without the Arab parties, would a Hatnuah led coalition, invite the 5% Arab parties?

      It is NOT impossible to unseat likud. But, it definitely takes work.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jonah R


        Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        Nice! So much for this “peace negotiator”, whose zeal and fervor for Palestinian blood was plainly evident during Cast Lead. She should have added Doron Almog to her party and called it the Hamenuah party (i.e. the “prevented” party – that is, prevented from setting foot in the U.K.)

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        “Report: Olmert, Livni may face war crimes charges in Norway
        AFP quotes Norwegian lawyers as saying they’ll seek arrest, extradition of leaders involved in Gaza op.
        By Haaretz Service | Apr.22, 2009 | 8:54 AM”


        What a formidable bunch of morons.

        Reply to Comment
    3. I have long supposed that the pro-settlement blok was so strong in Israel that the only path toward peace and an end of settlements and occupation is something that might be (or be regarded as) treason in Israel, namely, asking their very-Zionist friends in USA and EU and elsewhere to “help Israel” by asking their respective governments to apply strong 9and not merely rhetorical) pressure on Israel to remove all the settlers, remove/dismantle/demolish the wall and all the settlement buildings, and the blockade of Gaza, and share the naturally-occurring water equitably (50%-50%) with the Palestinians.

      International pressure might change Israel’s policies and direction; small “opposition” parties seem unlikely to be able or interested in doing so. The settler zealots are too strong.

      I write as a friend of peace and of the Palestinian people, but have hopes for the people of Israel as well.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Trepetic

      “she was a serious, trusted peace negotiator opposite the PA as foreign minister”

      Pity the PA could not bring itself to the point of saying “yes” and could not wait to disengage from negotiations using cast lead as an excuse.

      To do so for a short period was understandable but to do so for 6 months after the event, knowing full well that Likud would win in the next elections unless Olmert and Livni could show something for their efforts, tells us one thing and one thing only.

      The PA was not interested in making peace with Israel. The Israeli electorate woke up to this sad fact, why can’t you Larry?

      Reply to Comment
    5. The weak point in your analysis is that Israeli newborn parties tend to fragment quickly. The middle term strong point is the Livni, percisely because she was ruthless in Cast Lead, may have future credibility to bring some of the electorate towards a “peace” coalition.

      But I don’t think “peace” can be defined as agreement with the PA, or reacting against the PA, as Bibi et al love to do. I now suspect that whatever “peace” is, the first moves have to be unilateral. And that requires public discussion of the occupation budget and secondary effects–discussion as part of a party platform. I doubt Livni is ready to do that yet.

      Actually, what is “peace?” Saying it is agreement with the PA (which means just the Bank) provides no intermediate steps which IN THEMSELVES have benefits. Can “peace” be incrementalized, with a policy articulating incremental benefits? Note that Likud is incrementalizing the benefits of settlement quite well (however one defines those). But “peace” just sits there, open mouthed, an all or nothing. Perhaps that is why “peace” seems hopeless.

      Reply to Comment
      • Oscar

        The definition of insanity:

        Repeat the same thing over and over again but expect a different outcome each time.

        Or one might also attempt:

        ” … the first moves have to be unilateral”

        Like the Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals, right Greg?

        Reply to Comment
      • KiwiPisces

        Greg asked:
        ‘Actually, what is “peace?”’

        Well, in the ME it probably has a similar definition as “cease fire”.

        Peace is when Israel does not shoot back while Palestinians shoot at Israelis.

        But as soon as Israel shoots back it is using disproportional force, it is escalating and it is war. Right Greg?

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        A very important question – what is :peace” in this particular case.

        The problem is that since there is no definition of “peace” which would be accepted by all sides of conflict – there are at least 4 – Israel, Fatah, Hamas, Hizbullah – condition of “peace” could not be reached even theoretically until all these players present and their policies unchanged.

        Reply to Comment
      • Wow. Three replies. Actually, I was asking Larry, but not for a reply. There is nothing hostile in what I asked. Trespasser is the only one to give an answer of import. He sees peace as only global (all borders) and he combines four labeled actors in a kind of collective responsibilty where hostility by one keeps the others in the violence game as well.

        Oscar sees peace, apparently, as withdrawal, equating the long First Lebanon War with occupying the Bank, and Gaza, never sieged, as identical to the Bank; he shows no ability to consider small moves in the Bank to alter how the occupation is enforced.

        KiwiPisces places me in the camp of no retaliation. Of course there will be retaliation–on both sides, giving us the cycle of violence where all are righteous in between funerals. He also assumes, so far as can be gleaned by the brief reply, that there can be no alteration, in action, of the other side, on the ground, through a kind of slow motion dialogue. So the Wall protests are just another example of enemy violence, and casualties thereby are soley the fault of the protesters.

        There is a kind of sad laughter to see such people fail to understand that the Wall protests are an attempt to change both parties, on the ground, in the fine.

        It is also interesting to note that none of the three spoke of the financial costs of occupation. They react, as do many commenters on this site, to quash thought quickly–to allow no other option. They do not want to see that the Bank is neither Lebanon nor Gaza, and that is has already begun to alter Israel internally.

        Reply to Comment
        • KiwiPisces

          Greg Pollock said:
          “KiwiPisces places me in the camp of no retaliation”

          No, I see you in the camp who preach only at Israel and expects no reasonableness from Arabs. A somewhat racist stance IMHO, racist against Arabs. Because Arabs too are capable of being reasonable if enough people would let them know that they need to be reasonable

          Reply to Comment
          • If you mean Arabs are people like Jews, having diverse, conflicting views, yes I think you are right.

            I have always held and believed suicide bombing is an atrocity, and I think any nonviolent movement in the Bank must affirm so. I think the right of return in any global sense fictional and perverse; the Bank itself would not be able to absorb the millions to their new “home,” nor could the Israeli economy, irrespective of racial issues. Since the right of return is merely a verbal game, it is of no import. The issue of suicide bombing, which fuels some of your anger, methinks, is quite a different matter.

            Bashing someone anonymously strikes me as cowardly. But, if race is the war, perhaps we have no names, only lables. Try and find a way to break out of us vs them. I will say the same to–“Arabs.”

            Reply to Comment
        • Oscar

          “he shows no ability to consider small moves in the Bank to alter how the occupation is enforced”

          No, Greg I don’t. Not as long as long as you and your fellow preachers always expect ONLY Israel to make the moves. Why don’t you expect Arabs to make moves, big or small, I don’t care.

          For instance, for a start, they could be asked by you to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. That should not be too much, should it? After all there are already 24 Arab-Muslim states. So one itsy bitsy tiny small Jewish state should not be too hard for them, should it Greg?

          Reply to Comment
          • You have your small “Arab” move: the weekly protests against the Wall, where some have died.

            Can you understand why they are there, keep coming back? Or is it to just push Israel off the map? Really?

            Reply to Comment
          • Oscar

            “Can you understand why they are there, keep coming back? Or is it to just push Israel off the map? Really?”

            Sigh … no Greg, listen to me carefully.

            The demonstrators are just sheep. They get incited by their leaders. And it is easy for them to be incited because of the occupation. I grant you that.

            But if the Palestinians as a people would be willing to accept and acknowledge Israel’s existence as a Jewish nation state then a peace deal could be concluded. There would be no more occupation and there would be two states for two peoples.

            Do you think there would still be a need for the Palestinians to demonstrate then?

            The problem is that their leaders are not willing to conclude a peace deal based on the basis of mutual recognition. The message I get from that is that they still claim that ALL the land belongs to Arabs and there is no room for a Jewish state. Heck, Hamas say so openly and they represent at least 50% of Palestinian opinion.

            I wonder how Americans would deal with an enemy who would tell them that America has no right to exist?

            Reply to Comment
          • “So one itsy bitsy tiny small Jewish state should not be too hard for them, should it Greg?”

            Israel is about 20% Arab. Shall they be relocated using baby language so they know they are inferior? You are young.

            Reply to Comment
          • Oscar

            “Israel is about 20% Arab. Shall they be relocated using baby language so they know they are inferior? You are young”

            No Greg, where did you get that idea from? They are Israeli citizens.

            Have you not heard the concept where a minority population can be equal citizens alonside a majority? Look at Britain. It has the Anglican religion as the state religion but Jews, Muslims Budhists live there too as citizens.

            Reply to Comment
    6. sh

      With all due respect to you Larry, I don’t follow your logic here. Tzipi Livni had over three years to show her mettle in the opposition. Although more people in this country wanted her to be PM than they did Netanyahu, in opposition she melted into nothing on all fronts. Even those of us who didn’t vote for her imagined that we’d see her in the Knesset from time to time marshalling her party to protest laws that undermined freedom of speech or expression, defending something – anything other than her own past performance. Those of us who thought her absence may have been a strategy waited for her to emerge during the social protests with a position of some sort, but if she did, I can’t recall it. Did I miss something or are you, in desperation, expecting from her a kind of leadership that she is not built to deliver?

      If you’re going to risk a useless vote, why not throw caution to the winds in the other direction? At least that gives a chance to fresh unknowns to test themselves where the old faces have failed. That’s how Likud members voted in the primaries, which is why fresh faces on the left will have their work cut out for them like no others before them. But allow them make a mark. This country, as any country aspiring to be democratic, needs a feisty opposition!

      Reply to Comment
    7. Yaron

      As a relative newcomer and bystander, I think any politician who wants to make a bold move for this country in order to get back on the track towards more civilization is: give Israel a constitution.

      Firstly, because it is the biggest defect of Israeli society and it is the best tool to get rid of any hidden or obvious discrimination of its minorities. Despite its having to do little with the peace process, it does provide a benchmark to describe how to tread the adversary and how we want to be treated ourselves.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        A constitution’s a good idea, but I haven’t heard mention of it in the election platform of any of the parties. Maybe we who agree with you should draft a constitution ourselves and submit it for discussion to a party we think worthy of it.

        Reply to Comment
        • sh

          From 2006? That’s six years ago. So where is it? Do you have a link to the draft? Or maybe they were too busy drafting what most of the rest of that agenda was about, i.e. gerrymandering the electoral system.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Where is what?

            You’ve claimed that there is no party with the issue of written constitutions on it’s agenda.

            I prove that you are wrong – as usual.

            So now you are trying to divert attention from this screaming display of your ignorance and incompetence to the fact that during 6 years IOH was not actually able to do what was not done in previous 60 and definitely is not on other parties’ agenda.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            To save you having to tire yourself out scrolling for them, Trespasser, these were my words: “I haven’t heard mention of it in the election platform of any of the parties”.

            And I haven’t. You’re telling me that YB has been busy drafting one since 2006. I’m asking you how it’s going. And I’ve another question. What does the other part of the Likud-Beiteinu tandem think of the project thus far?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Obviously you have not. Which is why I’ve provided a link to their website


            As of drafting the constitution – first of all there must be legislation, to resolve issues such as contradictions of secular constitution with Halaha.

            What the tandem thinks we’ll find out after the elections. Right now they have far more urgent issues to attend to.

            Should YB-Likud be able to create a coalition without any religious parties they’d be able to do something with the constitution issue.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            “first of all there must be legislation, to resolve issues such as contradictions of secular constitution with Halaha.”

            Really? How will you know specifically what contradictions need to be resolved if you have never discussed what the various parties involved want to put into the constitution?

            Also, if and when the coalition is devoid of religious parties and Likud-Beiteinu don’t need to factor the Jewish religion into their constitution, all arguments for hanging onto the Old City, East Jerusalem, Hebron, etc. become invalid. Everyone lived in the State of Israel without them for 19 years during which the only hardship was lack of access to those places felt by the religious. And if there was real peace with the neighbours and a Palestinian state, religious Jews would have access to them anyway, just like the Christians have access to their holy places.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            You apparently have never heard the song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” by Naomi Shemer which was written before the Six-Day War. It describes with great pathos the pain felt by Jews because we didn’t have Jerusalem. NAOMI SHEMER WAS NOT RELIGIOUS. The statement you made that only “religious Jews” care about Jerusalem shows a complete lack of understanding of how Jews, and more specifically Israeli Jews feel about Jerusalem, and Judaism in general. Like almost all the “Progressives” I encounter here and elsewhere, you seem to think that everyone in the world thinks like you do and has the same values. If you don’t think Jerusalem isn’t important, it’s just gotta be that everyone else feels the same way.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            ” It describes with great pathos the pain felt by Jews because we didn’t have Jerusalem. NAOMI SHEMER WAS NOT RELIGIOUS.”

            Oh my goodness, what a long list of comments since I last looked at this!

            I’ll tell you a sliver of a secret, XYZ. I happen to have worked with Naomi Shemer and understand the difference between her secular pathos and pain for *access* to Jerusalem and the desire to “have it”, as you put it. She wrote that song before the Six-Day War as you surely know. And changed direction only after it.

            If Jews had had free access to the Western Wall and Makhpela during the 19 years they did not, the Six-Day War would have been even shorter.

            You’ll also be familiar with a song that is not by Naomi Shemer called HaSela HaAdom. Out of pathos too, Israelis risked and sometimes lost their lives to go to Petra during those 19 years. They go there freely now, using Israeli passports, without, so far as I know, any need to own it.

            Reply to Comment
      • Your Declaration of Independence frames parts of a written constitution, as affirmed at the creation of Israel through the UN Assembly vote. The corporate right nationalists have no monopoly over patriotism, and the Declaration, against the hopes of the Mosaic Torah nationalists, does not permit a religious state as such.

        But I have said this many times which, according to Oscar, above, shows me insane. I guess the American antebellum abolitionists were insane as well.

        I guess the political question right now is whether a call for a written constitution could be a useful plank in a party platform, given there is really no chance of a constitutional convention soon. Such a plank would imply that the ruling Knesset coalition is going too far.

        Reply to Comment
        • Oscar

          “But I have said this many times which, according to Oscar, above, shows me insane. I guess the American antebellum abolitionists were insane as well”

          Thats a bit of a crazy analogy don’t you think Greg?

          I mean, what choice did the slaves have? What did they have to offer or give before their masters would give them their freedom?

          Now ask the same question about the Palestinians. The answer is obvious. They have to declare their old aims and objectives of eliminating the ONLY Jewish nation (Israel) as null and void. All they have to do is accept Israel’s existence and agree to (really agree) live in peace with it. The “occupation” will then end.

          See the difference Greg?

          Reply to Comment
          • I was refering to white abolitionists, not slaves. The abolitionists kept speaking when they were thought insane. But you are young.

            Have you read the Israeli Declaration of Independence? The topic at hand was the question of a written constiution for Israel, not residency on the Bank.

            Reply to Comment
          • Oscar

            “I was refering to white abolitionists, not slaves. The abolitionists kept speaking when they were thought insane. But you are young”

            And I was commenting on your suggestion to unilaterally withdraw even though past unilateral withdrawals brought more violence against Israel. So, I stand by my comment that to do so again would be INSANE.

            As for your ability to repeat the suggestion? That is your business, it does not make YOU insane, it just makes you someone who only cares about what is good for the Palestinians and NOT the good of Israel. And therefore, Israel would be insane to listen to you.

            Reply to Comment
    8. Ira

      Hi Larry, I still think it’s important for people with your views to support Meretz – a party with a comprehensive worldview that includes human rights, social justice, freedom from religious coercion – and whose MKs show up when it comes time to vote on these issues… (Meretz has now also signed an agreement with Livni’s party, so extra votes will stay within the Hatnua-Meretz camp)

      Reply to Comment
      • Hey Ira – first of all, I’m really, really happy the two parties signed the surplus vote agreement. I want Meretz to do well, of course, but I just think this is an oppty. to bring Meretz’s ideas into the mainstream.

        Reply to Comment
    9. XYZ

      It is attitudes like those expressed by Mr Derfner here that go a long way to explaining why the Israeli political system has become the cesspool that it is today. The only real consideration I see expressed here is that “Tzippi hates Bibi more than the others so we should rally around her”.
      NO other considerations. The fact that she is a serial betrayer and deceover is unimportant. The fact that she spits repeatedly into the faces of those who trusted her can be ignored. The fact that she has repeatedly violated democratic decisions made by the parties she belonged to doesn’t matter. That Derfner is prepared to have someone whose word means nothing as the leader of the country is really frightening. The only thing that matters is “that she can rally all those who hate Bibi and the Right most effectively”. What about all the people who first in the Likud and later in KADIMA who payed dues and worked for those party when she was with them? She doesn’t get her way and so she works to destroy those parties. Doesn’t that mean anything to you, Derfner? How can you trust a liar like her? She will turn around and betray you next if she gets in to the Knesset or the government, mark my words.
      But as I repeatedly see from the “progressives” out there, NOTHING matters except getting into power. Even though the word “democracy” is always on their lips, they really despise democracy and the decisions of the people. The “ends justify the means” which means that EVERYONE suffers in the end.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ, I want my side to have power so justice can be done – so Israel’s military dictatorship in the WBank and blockade of Gaza will end. About democracy, or at any rate majority rule, you’re right, I don’t think much of it – Hamas, Ahmadinejad and Hitler were all elected by voter majorities or pluralities, and Israel’s tyranny over the Palestinians is supported by an overwhelming Israeli majority. So you’re going to have cheer for me.

        Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          Fine, and I want my side to have power to block your side. I believe justice is NOT on your side, but on mine. Why is your opinion supposed to carry more weight than mine which happens to be that of the democratically elected gov’t of Israel? If you don’t believe in democracy and the voice of the Israeli voter, that has several implications:
          (1) Don’t complain if the legislation the Knesset passes is not to your taste. That is what all you “progressives” told us when Sharon passed the undemocratic decision to destroy Gush Katif in violation of all his promises and without any public mandate from the move. You all said “the only thing that matters is 61 votes in the Knesset and if you don’t like what Sharon is doing, tough… vote against him the next time.”

          (2) Since you don’t respect the democratic will of the voters, how do you plan to take power? Coup d’etat? Having the Americans bomb us like they did Serbia forcing a new gov’t into power here?

          Reply to Comment
          • XYZ, I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “Democracy is the worst system on earth – except for all the others.” That’s what i believe, too, and I’m sure you do as well, so don’t pretend that I believe in dictatorship – and don’t use it as a justification for right-wing fascism in the Knesset.
            And why do you say the disengagement was undemocratic? It passed every vote in the Kneesset, the critical one by 67-45, as I recall, and a few months after the disengagement, Sharon’s successor in Kadima, Ehud Olmert – who wasn’t remotely as popular a candidate as Sharon – won the election easily. The people were for the disengagement all the way, they just weren’t as loud as the opposition minority.
            How do I want my side to take power in Israel? Same way the anti-apartheid movement did it in S. Africa – a combination of protests at home by the oppressed and ostracism abroad, which convinced the majority of S. African whites they had to change. Whether that will ever happen in Israel, I don’t know, but there’s a chance.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            There never was a majority for the destruction of Gush Katif. I followed the polls closely then, and the consitently showed 1/3 for, 1/3 against and 1/3 didn’t know. That is why Sharon feared calling elections or a referendum, he knew he would lose. He did call a referendum among Likud members, which he said was a vote of confidence in him, and he lost it 60-40. He then said “it was a mistake” to call the referendum and he said he would ignore it.

            In any event, like I said above, if the Knesset with a Right-wing majority passes laws you and the “progressives” don’t like, TOO BAD!

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          • Then why was Sharon’s post-disengagement creation, Kadima, so hugely popular – popular enough that even someone as unpopular as Olmert could sweep the post-disengagement election – and on a platform of continuing “Sharon’s way” by disengaging from 90% of the WBank? You’re looking at the disengagement from hindsight – it was extremely popular at the time with all but the hardcore right. People had a tremendous amount of sympathy for the Gush Katif settlers, but they wanted to rid themselves of Gaza, and they trusted Sharon absolutely.

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          • XYZ

            We all now see the trust in Sharon was badly misplaced. What I want to know is what I asked before….how can you trust a serial liar like Tzippi Livni?

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          • XYZ

            You neglected to mention the 2003 election in which Mitzna, the head of the Labor Party, made it his central plank in his platform to destroy ONE settlement in Gush Katif. Sharon said “perish the thought…Netzarim is no different than Tel Aviv” and the Likud won its biggest victory since 1981. The reason KADIMAH won in 2006 was because the Right was badly demoralized. Many people, like myself, sat out the election and didn’t vote. The Likud dropped to 11 seats because they had betrayed their voters.

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          • People thought unilateral w/drawal backed by military power – “Sharon’s waY” – would work in Gaza and then in the WBank, too. That’s not what they believe today, but it was then.

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    10. AYLA

      is anyone still here? I think the most interesting thing about Hatnua is that they ate up the Green Party, which no one is talking about, and I suspect that Green chose them for similar reasons to Larry’s. That said, this voter is not convinced. I do look wistfully at the 972 polling pie chart and think: labor +hatnua + yesh atid and we’d have beat biberman. Without the mega-merger, though, I’d rather bet on Meretz or Hadash. Even if Meretz picked up one additional seat, it would be a message, and progress.

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    11. Gali

      ” With all due respect to you Larry, I don’t follow your logic here. Tzipi Livni had over three years to show her mettle in the opposition.”
      With all due respect to you Sh, I dont think you can critizise Larry without stating who you are going to vote for .
      So who will it be Sh ?
      Not Meretz … you tore them to pieces on your now defunct forum .
      Not Hadash …too Arab for you 😉
      So who Sh ???????????

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    12. Charles-Jerusalem

      There is a paradox with the title of the article.
      I voted for Tsipi Livni at the last elections, I expected that she would win, and she did. But she went to the opposition when she was not able to build a coalition.
      After that “silence radio”, she disapeared, letting the sharks of the right sharks act as if they were alone.
      Suddenly she is back, with a new empty party, and the author calls that “opposition”.
      No no no, opposition means that you have to do the work for which the electors elected you and act as a counter power, use the press, be on the field,…
      She did not do any of that. She should vanish from the political scene and let the space for somebody more committed to his ideas, to the state and to the people, all the citizens, not only White Jewish Americano-European.
      I will never vote for her again. Even Alei Yarok is more politically active if they were not that stoned.

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      • sh

        I concur. There was no opposition and she was conspicuous by her absence. Curiously, Gideon Levi wrote an article a few days ago encouraging undecided “centrists” to vote Livni – although he wouldn’t. I’m voting Daam.

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    13. Hadassah Haskale

      I heard and saw Livni field questions in my Jerusalem neighborhood community center recently and was impressed.Searching for a way to contact her to discuss what her approach to the thorny Jerusalem issue might be.My vision: a united city, capital to two states within a federation.Israel administration in the western part of the city, Palestinian in East Jerusalem.

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