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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Livni Fails (at least I hope she has)

At 5:00PM (Israel time) today, Tzipi Livni will reportedly be calling on President Shimon Peres to inform him of her inability to form a coalition government.  If Peres doesn't turn to another MK to try to form a coalition, this will trigger new elections.

This makes me happy on a number of levels... none of which have to do with the fact that I deeply dislike and distrust Kadima and pretty much everyone in it:

1.  I love that the media now has to eat its words after joyfully trumpeting that the Kadima primaries had selected the next Prime Minister.  Sorry guys.  As convenient as it would have been... heads of state don't get selected by a few hundred party hacks.  Not in a democracy, anyway.

2.  I'm not sure who said it, but the sentiment; 'Anyone who is afraid of what the electorate might do at the polls does not deserve to be in power' is a powerful maxim... and one that can't be repeated enough here in Israeli political circles.  I have one of my own:  'Other than the middle of an actual full-fledged shooting war... there is no bad time for elections'.  This crap of holding on to power based on the tired excuse that 'it isn't good for the country to have to go to the polls right now' sounds just a tad Bolshevik to my American ears.  Everyone has their 'phobias'... but I have never seen 'fear of the polls' on any valid taxonomy of recognized fears.

3.  On a related note, 'Anyone but Bibi' is not a valid political philosophy.  You may hate the man and hate his party (as is your democratic right), but that first word; 'Anyone' conceals a lot of truly horrible possibilities.  Bibi may be a scary prospect to a lot of people out there... but the idea of rockets falling on Ashkelon was called 'Likud fear-mongering' not too long ago.  Time to examine which fears are valid and which are not.

4.  One thing I've noticed is that when it is expedient for Livni to meet a party's demands during coalition negotiations, it is called 'deal making'.  When it is impractical (as with increasing child welfare payments) or impossible (as in promising that the division of Jerusalem is not being negotiated) to meet a party's demands... it is called 'extortion'.   I have a couple of new words that Livni and company should become familiar with: 'Opposition Party'.

5.  Most of all, I am pleased that the Israeli public will finally get to have a say in its own future instead of having to sit helplessly by while secret deals are negotiated and then presented as a fait accompli.  Not having a mandate to act on behalf of the people is bad enough.  Not having the nerve to let the people know what you are doing 'on their behalf' is criminal. 

[Update:  She has postponed her meeting with Peres until 5:30PM giving rise to speculation that coalition negotiations are still underway.  This woman truly has no shame.  I wish she were as tough a negotiator with the Arabs as she is with the Jews.  Maybe then they'd respect us just a little. ]

Posted by David Bogner on October 26, 2008 | Permalink

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No, if she had no shame, she'd have given in to Shas' outrageous demands, like so many a politician has done before her just to get into power. I felt respect for her when she stood her ground.

Of course, if she really is back in negotiations and gives in to Shas after all, that respect is gone.

Posted by: dys | Oct 26, 2008 6:07:25 PM

"I love that the media now has to eat its words after joyfully trumpeting..."

you mean, media trumpeting is not solely a problem in the USA? Well -- I hope your media gets to eat its fill, I can't say "of humble pie," because that would imply that they knew what "humble" was, which, if they are like the USA media, they don't.

So let's just hope they eat crow. Using their "unbiased" power to tip elections is an old game, but an execrable one nonetheless. In democracies, the media should take joy, rather, in inculcating informed freedom of thought and choice for the individual.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Oct 26, 2008 7:41:58 PM

im with dys on this.

Posted by: fred | Oct 26, 2008 8:09:23 PM

Well I'm not too thrilled with what is/are apparently Bibi's promise(s) to Shas, which haven't been specified but seem to make Shas happy. I can only assume he has promised to reinstate the old system of child allowances in all it inquities. I was a Bibi fan until now, but I'm tired of watching the haredi population-as-welfare-entitlement-queens.

Get a JOB. Go to Yeshiva like the rest of us go to college--for 3-4 years.

NO child allowances--instead, child deductions on your income tax. You want money, earn it.

Studying Torah is an absolute good. Do it AFTER or BEFORE work like the rest of us, including Rambam.

If we persist in this stupidity of child allowances, then they are EQUAL--everyone gets exactly the same amount for each child, no matter how many children you have.....this rigging of the game so that the haredim and Arabs can live off of child allowances once they get past 5 children is a crime. Everyone gets the same set amount of money.

The economy, long-term, cannot afford to funnel huge chunks of money to the 20% haredi population as a form of welfare and to the 20% of the Arab population, and expect that the remaining 60% of the population will go on supporting this extortion while they themselves, working men and women, can't afford to take vacations with their children or put them in gan or find affordable summer camps for them.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Oct 26, 2008 8:59:36 PM

Tzipi refused to do the type of back room deal with Shas, who is notorious for its lack of allegiance and going to the highest bidder, since its inception.

Dealmaking/extortion is the cornerstone of every legislature in a democracy, in Israel it just seems to stink more.

Netanyahu was paralyzed as PM because he could not do the deals effectively. While as Finance Minister he rocked.

Regarding your item 1 - head of state will still indirectly be chosen by the few hundred party hacks, there are no more direct elections, Direct elections of PM was a failed experiment a few years back 1996-2001, before you came here.

Posted by: asaf | Oct 26, 2008 9:34:29 PM

It's off to elections we go - and I couldn't be happier. I don't know what the outcome will be - but it's nice that Livni is honest enough to tell us that she WILL try to negotiate on Jerusalem. Helps to have that up front...so I can be even happier about voting for "anyone but Livni."

It will be an interesting election but no matter who wins, at least we can feel that the people have spoken. That hasn't happened in many years. First Sharon took our vote, deceiving his supporters and betraying their trust, then Olmert...it will be SO wonderful to see the back of his head! It's time for Israel to wake up...you can't BUY peace...at best, you can buy hudna...a brief "peace"-like period that will be used by the Arabs to arm and re-arm. Anyway...it's off to elections...I couldn't be happier!

Posted by: ASoldiersMother | Oct 26, 2008 9:39:00 PM

Great blog - I've been following the political news in Israel as well as here in the US, and I think it will be really interesting to see what the political landscape looks like in both countries, and how it might influence any possible future peace process. I publish an online Jewish journal called the New Vilna Review (www.newvilnareview.com) which might be of interest to you and your readers. The site is dedicated to exploring themes of modern Jewish identity from an individual and communal perspective. We publish articles, fiction and poetry and we're always looking for new contributors.

Posted by: Daniel E. Levenson | Oct 27, 2008 3:12:59 AM

It has been independently reported that Livni offered Shas something they didn't want or ask for.

Shas asked for 2 things (1) a letter that she won't be dividing Jerusalem and (2) the reinstatement of the child allowances.

Livni refused the first and for the second, offered Shas part of the money to child allowances and the rest to Shas affiliated Yeshivas and schools.

Shas turned Livni down, as they said (and as a capitalist you will disagree with this line of thought) that child allowances benefit everyone, and they weren't asking for money for just their constituents and institutions.

In short, they feel Livni tried to bribe them and not reinstate something they feel/claim/believe is good for Israeli society as a whole.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Oct 27, 2008 10:08:13 AM

Is there any such thing as buying off opinion polls as part of the 'deal making' process?

Posted by: Rami | Oct 27, 2008 10:44:25 AM

Believe it or not the polls have Livni and Kadima with 29-31 seats and the Likud and Netanyahu with 26-29 seats.

It is beyond me how a thinking person could vote for Kadima after the disaster of the past 2.5 years starting with the Lebanon war and Gilad Shalit and continuing on to corruption etc. Even worse is the fact that Livni's 1 big accomplishment is UN Resolution 1701 which has turned out to be an absolute fiasco.

I just hope that the polls are as wrong as they were for the Kadima primaries.

Posted by: Bluke | Oct 27, 2008 1:36:06 PM

I'm very concerned about Israel's economy now. We're very dependent on a strong US economy, and we need to make sure we act very responsibly in all budget and financial issues. I really think it's a shame that Netanyahu didn't get more credit for the country surviving the Lebanon war - had he not made the financial reforms when he was Finance Minister, we'd have had a much more difficult time surviving the economic hit that war gave us.

So actually, I was glad that Livni beat Mofaz in the Kadima primaries. She's much more likely to be fiscally responsible than he was (I heard some Shas functionaries talking about all the things he had promised them.)

I'm not too concerned about today's polls having Kadima beat the Likud. Bibi's been preparing for this for too long. I think it's likely that he'll win the election, and if Kadima joins with Livni as finance minister, that would be a very stable government with very responsible financial behavior.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Oct 27, 2008 2:51:48 PM

Isn't anyone - besides me - concerned that this means that Olmert will be in power for the next 4-5 months, and who knows what kinda deals he will sign with the "pals" behind our backs? Is this REALLY good for the Jews?

Posted by: yitz | Oct 27, 2008 3:31:35 PM

I am with some of the other commenters. She was not willing to be PM at any price, and I respect that. I found it refreshing. The same can definitely not be said for Olmert...and I suspect it cannot be said for Bibi.

Not saying that Livni is pure as the driven snow, only that this is a step in the right direction.

Posted by: Gila | Nov 1, 2008 8:39:19 AM

I think Yitz really meant to say "Is this good for the Israelis"?

Posted by: Expategghead | Nov 1, 2008 8:39:46 AM

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