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A Profoundly Different Livni

Coalition talks in Israel seem to be headed in what most Israeli voters consider the wrong direction — that is, the negotiation of a right-wing Netanyahu government with no Kadima and no Labor.

This is troubling to many Israelis, whose primary concern is accountable leadership. Political columnist Sima Kadmon explained in his plea to Livni last week:

So don’t think about the Right or Left, Tzipi Livni. Simply think about seven and a half million Israelis who are fed up with leaders who say that unity is the call of the hour and a minute later change their mind; leaders who talk about what’s good for the country but have no idea how to do it.

However, Livni may be hoping to appeal to a particular segment of the population that just wants to be ideologically represented. Like Rupert Murdoch, who reportedly explained the immediate success of Fox News by saying,”I found a niche, half the population,” Livni has also found her niche. By ditching the hazy distinctions of a “centrist” Kadima, she establishes herself as the leader of the proper Left.

Thus, what David wrote here yesterday is true only when one considers the “old” Kadima — the one from a week ago:

Opposition can be great for a party with a clear ideological or policy platform, or a strong tradition of governance that can attract voters dissatisfied with the government’s performance. But that’s not the case here.

Well, apparently it is now. While Livni was in the center, there were no “profound differences” between her position and Netanyahu’s regarding the peace process.

Livni’s people will have to tweak the historical record in order to cast her in a new oppositional light. Haim Ramon has already started this process on Israeli radio today. When Ariel Sharon formed Kadima it was because of his ideological differences with Likud. Livni, says Ramon, only wants to continue in Sharon’s footsteps.

But try to imagine Ariel Sharon saying this: “I have repeatedly said that the choice is between hope and despair, between realizing the two-state solution and a lack of vision in this regard.” Do you think Sharon would have meant it? Do you think Livni does mean it? The difference between Sharon’s Kadima and Livni’s Kadima is the only “profound difference” I can see.



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