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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Feigele's reality

There's a lengthy feature about that darling of the world media, Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Feigele Livni in today's New York Times Magazine. I want to highlight and comment on a few points in the rather lengthy feature:
Livni seems to share many things with Rice, who calls the foreign minister a “friend” and a woman of peace. They have the same intensity and work ethic, the same difficulty in thinking beyond a doctrine once it has been formed, the same disciplined intelligence that sometimes appears to lack the subtlety of wisdom and the same penchant for talking about “values” and what is “right.”

But I found myself thinking, What good was the “right thing” or plans for Palestinian refugees festering in camps or Bush’s two-state road map or Rice’s principles or Livni’s good intentions, when the whole area — spiraling downward with a devilish energy, developing ever-more-divergent Israeli and Palestinian narratives, splintering and radicalizing in the image of Iraq, threatened by a resurgent Iran, permeated by jihadists without borders — was going up in recrimination-clogged smoke? I believed in Livni’s good faith, her energy, her honesty, her determination. What I was not sure about after our first meeting was her grasp on reality. The fact is, Israelis and Palestinians have parted company. I could see little evidence that Livni, for all her lucidity, was any exception to this.
I think Cohen has understood Livni's problem well. She's not grounded in reality. Livni supports the creation of a 'Palestinian' state reichlet. Indeed, she has set it as the be all and end all of her work as foreign minister. But there's no 'Palestinian' movement for co-existence. Livni seems oblivious to the fact that regardless of what she wants to do the 'Palestinians' are not interested in going along with her plan. Cohen questions her grasp on reality and attributes it to the same kind of bullheadedness that characterizes Livni's good friend Condaleeza Rice. Livni sees the world as black and white and now that she has switched to seeing the 'Palestinians' as white she is no longer conscious of the dark gray that is practically black.

My friend Soccer Dad seems to have a different take on Cohen's description of Livni. I'm not sure I understand his argument....
“Palestinians are tired of the no-partner-for-talks symphony,” Erekat said. “Livni has an interlocutor in me and Abbas. We don’t ask why Israelis choose Labor or Kadima; she doesn’t need to ask about Hamas. With a decent peace accord, we can go to a referendum. Moderates would win. That would be Hamas’s fig leaf. But Livni has to learn that peace and settlements don’t go together, walls and peace don’t go together and nothing is solved until everything is solved.”
Erekat doesn't get it. Labor and Kadima Achora are all in favor of 'peace.' They are too in favor for my taste. They are too willing to sacrifice everything. Erekat's 'government' has little to no legitimacy. The 'Palestinians' voted for Hamas - not for him and Abu Mazen. It's very nice for him to say that 'moderates' would win. But if they don't?

Erekat's mentor - Arafat - turned down a way-too-generous deal that offered him everything he could have asked for. No sane Israeli government will offer a deal anywhere close to that again. Does Erekat believe that a deal that offers less than what Arafat turned down can be sold to his 'people'?

Erekat is right that nothing is solved until everything is solved. Releasing terrorists as 'goodwill gestures' only whets the 'Palestinian' appetite to get something for nothing. So let's hear Erekat's final status solutions. Is he willing to forget about the 'right of return'?
Livni says it is the Palestinians, especially those in Hamas, who must do the learning. They need to learn to side with moderates against jihadists. They need to accept the West’s basic demands: renunciation of terror, recognition of Israel and respect of previous Palestinian-Israeli accords. They need to learn that pushing for refugees to return to Israel amounts to questioning Israel’s existence: a 1948 rather than a 1967 issue.
That's all true. But Livni is not realistic enough to realize that it's not going to happen in her lifetime or mine (okay, we're almost the same age) and that trying to force it to happen when the 'Palestinians' are just mouthing words without meaning them is just going to set Israel up for a bloodbath God forbid.
Arab states, unlike at Camp David in 2000, can help the Palestinians to make these compromises “by saying publicly what they say behind closed doors.” They can contribute to a “political horizon” — a favorite Livni-Rice phrase — by “opening bureaus of interest in Israel.” If they fear a nuclear Iran, as Sunni states from Jordan to the gulf do, they should support Israel as a bulwark of moderation.
That's true. But a lightbulb should go on in Livni's head because they haven't done that. That lightbulb hasn't even flickered yet. There's a reason for that and it's not one that Cohen will put in your Sunday New York Times Magazine. It's that Livni is not particularly bright.

Unfortunately, Cohen concludes with admiration for Livni:
But as Livni’s appeal for sympathy suggested, all the great achievements of Israel have not yet ended Jewish precariousness, Jewish annihilation angst — the inner “exile” of the Jew. Israel remains, in Livni’s words, “a nation struggling to realize our basic right to a peaceful coexistence.” She told me that “in a Europe without borders, people are questioning what the meaning is of a Jewish state.”

Its moral authority compromised by a 40-year occupation, its kibbutznik uniqueness compromised by a globalized consumer culture, its future compromised by the gathering appeal of jihadist dogma, Israel stands at a crossroads. “Something deep has to change,” says Dahlia Scheindlin, a pollster. “We can’t any longer be the victims rushing to proclaim we’re being obliterated and ending up obliterating others.” The Diaspora Jew did not go to Zion to build the Jew among nations.

Livni, with her umbilical attachment to the Zionist idea, gets this. She gets the need to hurry to some resolution with the Palestinians in order to stop the erosion of the Israeli raison d’etre. Watching her in that hotel conference room, beneath the attentive gaze of dozens of ambassadors, I had to admire her. Each point was made with punch, not least that Hamas was rearming in Gaza with Hezbollah in Lebanon as a model. “She is very professional, in good standing and taken very seriously,” Jakken Biorn Lian, the Norwegian ambassador, told me.

My admiration was redoubled because May had been a bad month for her. Her high-wire act after the Winograd Commission report, telling Olmert he should go without going herself, had brought a wave of media criticism, much of it sexist. She was described as being fit only to run a women’s volunteer group. The onslaught was a fair reflection of the sexism she also encountered within the heavily male cabinet as she tried to resist another bombing raid on Lebanon.

A few days after her not-quite-oust-Olmert push, Yariv Reicher, a consultant, told me: “I’ll take her as my lawyer or friend, but to lead here you have to have something hard to describe, something Sharon and Begin and Rabin had, something from the innermost person that gives you hope, an answer to your pain. She needs to speak from her guts.”
Neither Cohen nor Livni apparently understands that the Jews are not just another European nation. We are a people who - in the words of the sorcerer Bilam in last week's Torah reading - "stand alone and are not counted among the nations." We are different. Our nationalism is not that of a European nation state and our need for borders is embodied in the sanctity of the land that does not extend outside its perimeter. The Holy Land includes those areas that Livni and Cohen believe that we 'occupy' and that 'compromise' our 'moral authority.' They are wrong.

We are not 'obliterating others' because there are 22 Arab states and there is no such thing as 'Palestine' or 'Palestinians.'

Livni's Zionism is lacking in its Jewish component. She doesn't understand that the Jews can never be just another nation. Because of that she rushes to a 'solution' with the 'Palestinians' when the 'Palestinians' seek a final solution that will destroy the Jews. This has nothing to do with sexism. Begin understood the uniqueness of the Jewish people. Sharon understood it until he let personal greed cloud his vision. Rabin understood it to the end. Many of the rumors involving conspiracy theories in the Rabin assassination claim that he was going to call Arafat on the carpet for not abiding by Oslo and put a stop to the 'Oslo process.' Livni doesn't get it and it's unlikely she ever will.

Her father must be rolling over in his grave (read the whole thing to find out why).


At 6:27 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

OK, she's all you say...and less. But why be a child and call her Feigele?

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I've been calling her Feigele for ages. Just like I refer to Slimy Shimon, Ehud K. Olmert, Comrade Peretz (haven't used that one in a while) and Ehud Barach (fled).

It's cathartic.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger YMedad said...

I agree with you all but I still found one point inher favor. See
my post

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I agree. I hope she didn't just mean the part that is underground.


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