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!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • 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.