Friday, September 19, 2008

Tzipi's Choice

My friend Naomi Chazan has put the case brilliantly in the new Forward. If Tzipi Livni thinks she can place the peace process on a back-burner or, to put things more cruelly, that an Israeli majority will choose her to lead the country into a fight-to-the-finish with Palestinians, she is mistaken. As Michael Corleone told Tom Hagen, "You are not a war-time Consigliori."

Much like Mahmoud Abbas, Livni's only hope to form a stable government, or to gain popularity in advance of new elections, is to prove that she can renew the promise of an agreement under American-European auspices, that is, advance the interests of Israelis over Judeans. She must show that diplomacy is the problem and she is the solution. Her side is the majority and creates most of the wealth. She must choose to inspire. The fact that Haim Oron, the head of the Meretz peace party, is claiming that Livni has offered him a place in a new government is a sign that Livni gets it. One hopes the next American president will get it, too.   

Incidentally, the same issue of the  Forward includes a very thoughtful review of The Hebrew Republic. The reviewer, Joel Streicker, chides me gently, however, for implying (in the book's subtitle) that peace is inevitable. I am not sure I do imply this--anyway, I have never made a buck betting against tragedy. But the book places its hopes mainly in the rising professional class of Israel, people who know the opportunities of globalization, and opportunity costs of war. If there is a poster child for this rising group, it may well be Livni.