Forward Thinking

Dinner With Livni

By Jane Eisner

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Leader of the Opposition

The Tzipi Livni who spoke before a small, private dinner on Wednesday evening in New York seemed more excitable, passionate and downright worried than she has been in these sort of settings. Barely had the guests invited by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace taken their seats when the leader of Israel’s Kadima party launched right in, with a spirited critique of the Israeli government and a plea to relaunch negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible.

“The price of not making decisions is higher than the price of making decisions,” she argued, with a notable sense of urgency.

In her many references to her own experiences in the negotiating room, Livni was clearly agitated that the progress she had made and the trust that she gained was lost when her arch rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, was given the opportunity to form a government even though his party had won one less seat in the 2009 election. Once in office, Netanyahu effectively canceled those talks (though there’s some dispute about whether the Palestinians also deserve blame for the resulting stalemate).

Livni argued that the negotiations should start immediately. She scoffed at the diplomatic dispute over President Obama’s reference to the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps. “Everyone knows it won’t be pure 1967,” she said. “It’s going to be the ugliest border in the world, but there is a way to minimize damage to Israeli citizens.”

And she slammed Netanyahu for picking a fight with Obama: “Israelis expect their prime minister to get along with any American president. The relationship with the United States is existential.”

Like every good politician, I suppose, she stuck to her script, no matter the question posed to her. She insisted that a two-state solution was not a gift to the Palestinians or to the American president, but the only way to ensure that Israel remains a democracy. “Each state gives an answer to the national aspirations of each people,” was her mantra.

When a guest far to her right politically asked why she didn’t make demands on the Palestinians in public, Livni’s voice became higher and more insistent. “I criticize the Israelis because I’m an Israeli,” she said. “I’m not going to vote for Abu Mazen. We need to make a decision on our own vision of the State of Israel.” Besides, she said, such public pronouncements “are not the way to achieve peace. It sounds great, but you need to be tough in the negotiating room,” not before the microphones.

Listening to Livni still leaves the hanging question of why she hasn’t been a more effective opposition leader within Israel, and she skirted the question when asked directly. But she certainly made her case for a robust dialogue within the American Jewish community. “Israel is strong enough to have this discussion,” she said as guests were nibbling on dessert. “It comes from the family. It comes from love.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Benjamin Netanyahu, Kadima, Tzipi Livni

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.