Tzipi Livni gave a great performance on TV the other night, she was clever, eloquent and almost as funny as Einav, Orna, Lior and Gouri, the real hosts of the humorous program “The State of the Nation.”
It is true that I didn’t appreciate Livni’s attempt to become one of the gang, which prompted her to take part, and even enjoy, the ubiquitous sexist remarks and sexual innuendos that, no doubt, delighted the audience.
Still, after fifteen minutes of idle chat, finally Livni showed courage. It wasn’t a real question, but Lior Shlein made a derogatory remark about the latest unsuccessful negotiations with the Palestinians. He said that “everyone said” that her negotiations would explode and that it was clear there was no chance to succeed.
Livni’s response was hopeful, she explained that she refused to take no for an answer, to believe that the situation was hopeless, and that as far as she was concerned there was always a chance.
When Livni claims that there is a chance for peace I believe her. She is not naïve, quite the contrary, she is knowledgeable and experienced, and has been a major player in the political scene for many years. Moreover, for me at that moment she transcended from being a mere politician, promoting the new rotation agreement with Yitzhak Hezog, to a real leader..
Livni made it clear that, having done it already, she would not hesitate to act on her beliefs even if it means that she stands alone. This kind of resolve is what we need right now, solutions will be found only when leaders on both sides believe that there is a chance and are truly committed to end the conflict in the Middle East.
Livni may be content to stand alone with her principles, but for Lior Shlein, that position must seem too cold or lonely, otherwise how could he justify making a statement like “everyone said?” Does he really believe that this is a valid argument? Is the fact that everyone said something mean that it is true?
Of course not, but still Shlein is not that far off, when it comes to Israelis the wisdom of the crowds reigns. It is always safer, and warmer, to stick together and sit around the tribal bonfire whether it is to say no to the peace negotiations, or to move to Berlin.
I remember the first time I encountered Israeli conformity as an adult.. When we returned to Israel after spending many years in the US the prices of rented apartments were set in American dollars. I protested claiming that my own salary was in Israeli shekels and had nothing to do with American dollars, but the only answer I got was: “everyone is doing it.”
Although Tzipi Livni is a worthy candidate, the purpose of this essay is not to promote her. But I do hope that this election we will finally break away from “everyone,” and stop listening to all the naysayers who discourage us and provide convincing reasons why an agreement is unattainable. Instead let’s do everything within our power to bring peace. Isn’t it time to be brave like the little boy who stood alone in the street and shouted that the emperor had no clothes?