Okay, she’s prettier than Olmert. Let’s get that out of the way first.

She’s smarter than Palin.

She dresses better than Clinton. Hillary.

She beat out Shaul Mofaz, the architect of the IDF’s humiliation in the second Lebanon war. By a few hundred votes.

In the national polls, she beats Netanyahu in an election. Just barely. Barak’s not even in the picture.

Olmert may now finally step down, which means that she will become PM of Israel. If Olmert steps down, perhaps the police and Israel’s AG will stand down and not charge him with all of these crimes he supposedly committed.

Livni’s first order of the day will be to deal with the extortionist parties that will threaten to bring down the coalition and the government unless they get to rob the treasury for their own folks. That will be Livni’s first true test. My guess is that she’ll win some, but not all. Why? Because every minister likes to keep his special government-issued car.

Then she’ll have to deal with the US Administration is its waning we-don’t-give-a-fuck-as-long-as-you-do-what-we-tell-you-and-by-the-way-please-ignore-our-lousy-track-record-in-the-Middle-East-because-it’s-all-Cheney’s-fault days. They would like Israel to give up more than Barak was willing to give at Taba. They want Israel to do this now, even as Hamas controls Gaza and threatens in the West Bank. She’ll have to deal with that and whatever Olmert has seen fit to negotiate away already so he can leave his mark on history.

Livni will have to deal with being a woman in the Middle East. She’ll be tested by Arab leaders. I don’t think it will happen, but wars are a good way to test new leaders. Ask Olmert and Halutz about that. She’ll be tested by other leaders and groups. She’ll have to decide what to do about Iran. She’s going to have to control the IDF without letting it control her. She’ll have to appoint a superb foreign minister – someone who is better at the job than she was.

I wish I could say more, but the new Kadima leader has been circumspect to a degree that leaves her a walking blank to most of us. She didn’t go for the jugular when Olmert was on the ropes after the war. She hasn’t been vocal about any of her achievements in office and she’s relatively well-behaved when it comes to criticizing other Israeli politicians. This has served her well and that will probably be her approach to running the country. Wow, a mature and serious approach would be welcome if she could pull it off.

To conclude…

There’s little to say here, much about which to be concerned but also much hope that Livni is where she is because she earned it and not by accident. Running Israel has to be one of the most complex and challenging jobs in existence, so let’s really hope very hard that she merits this position and responsibility.

Mazal tov and b’hatzlacha to Tzipi Livni.

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  • She cheated by having the voting time limited extended. She’s no Ms. Clean. She won by 431 votes of a voting group of maybe 50% of the registered party members. And if Dichter would have declared late in the day to his supporters to vote Mofaz, she would be history.

  • re: mofaz being the “architect” of Israel’s failure in the 2nd Lebanon war – it’s not exactly clear to me what you mean. he wasn’t army chief (halutz), he wasn’t defense minister (peretz), he wasn’t prime minister (Olmert), he wasn’t transportation minister – no wait, actually he was.

    he didn’t preceed halutz as army chief-of-staff (that was moshe ya’alon). yet he did preceed peretz as defense minister.

    so on the list of people to blame for the Lebanon failure – Olmert, Peretz, Halutz, even Livni – he wasn’t that high up. Even if you argue that he did contribute to the lack of readiness of the IDF previous years, he clearly wasn’t THE architect of failure. He wasn’t the main guy to blame.

  • Yes, the IDF’s lack of readiness falls on his shoulders directly because when he wasn’t being its Chief of Staff, he was being Defense Minister. He was essentially the leader of the IDF for about 6 or 7 years, not including the years when he was merely a general. Ya’alon cannot be held reponsible considering that Halutz replaced him early in his tenure and that Mofaz was behind the scenes already. Ya’alon’s removal shows his weakness relative to his superiors, the PM and the Defense Minister.

    There is no other way to slice it. The “Transportation Minister” who somehow magically had nothing to do with the war and the IDF after they performed poorly, is actually the person most responsible for the IDF’s lack of preparation, lack of readiness, incompetent leadership and ultimately its performance in Lebanon in 2006.

  • Nice post, Middle, but your take on the Bush administration’s agenda is really odd, way off the mark. You seem to be having flashbacks to the good ol’ legacy-building, final months of Clinton. Bush won’t pressure Israel to make any concessions.

  • Rice is and has been pressuring Israel for months. It’s a “we can’t lose the next election or do any worse than we’ve already done so let’s try to leave a legacy” approach to foreign policy. For example, if reports are true that she demanded that Israel negotiate on the basis of ’67 lines, that is an extraordinary demand coming from the US. It hasn’t been described as a request but as an imposed premise. It flies in the face of both America’s and Israel’s interpretation of 242.

  • By the way, Yisrael Medad, it’s impossible to cheat when your opponents are right there to contest any cheating.

    On the other hand, if she did cheat right under Mofaz or Dichter’s noses then it’s a good thing they weren’t elected and she was. Being Israel’s PM is one tough job and you want the smarter player in there, not the one who can’t catch how the other guy is working you over.

  • A woman president for Israel? A black man for a US president? We should be heading into sweet times! B.H.

  • Hi Yisrael. I just saw this post on Jewlicious after commenting on the post on your blog. Your post was a quote and a link to Haaretz. Here, you’ve expanded on that a little and I appreciate it but… where did you see cheating? Candidates are allowed to ask for extensions and the committee in charge is allowed to weigh the merits of that request and render a decision. She asked for an hour and was granted 30 minutes. So again, where exactly is the cheating?

    And I am asking this as a disinterested outside observer. I plan on voting for the Pantherim Schorim next election. Or the Ethiopians. Or someone, I don’t know yet. But it seems unlikely I’ll be voting Kadima.

  • When you are losing an election – as Tzipi knew she was in the afternoon – (she won by 431 votes), you cheat. You change the rules in mid-game. Even if it was “authorized”, I call the extension of the time limit cheating. In a basketball game, do you add on a few minutes because your best forward is limping (I know, in soccer there is leeway but I think that is the only exception). If you were in Mofaz’s place, wouldn’t you call it cheating?

  • Yisrael, I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. You decide to call something cheating, just because. When I turn it around on you, you claim I know nothing. Fine, I know nothing.

    In the meantime, it appears that either Livni got the better of the failed general if you are right and it was all one big scam. On the other hand, if it wasn’t a big scam then Mofaz supporters had the same additional half hour that Livni supporters received to cast their vote.

    If anything, you should be pleased by the exercise of democracy here. Rather than seeking to win a hollow victory with few votes, the front runner and presumptive winner asked to extend voting hours so that more people may vote. It was actually a risk for her if you read the polls, but she acted ethically in seeking to bring in as many people as possible out to vote.

    I’d say you should choose. Either she’s a cheat who outsmarted the soldier who apparently isn’t a very good tactician, or she acted ethically and appropriately and won a genuine victory over the general with the larger number of votes despite the time extension that enabled him to get out additional supporters…which he obviously didn’t have. Let me know which you choose.

  • Oh, and while you’re figuring out your choice, ask yourself whether you want a tactician who can’t even stop this supposed “cheater” from beating him to tackle Abbas and Assad in the negotiating arena. Let me know.

  • Sorryy, I should have repeated my main point: she portrayed herself as “Ms. Clean” (see my sirst comment).

    In that context, what she did was cheating.

    She might come to an agreement with the pals. on, say, 95% of the territory disputed and then at the last moment, yield only 94% halfway through the withdrawal procedure. Wouldn’t you think the Pals. would feel cheated?

  • If she portrayed herself as Ms. Clean by lulling the public, the Mofaz voters, the media and Forbes Magazine, and then she successfully outsmarted the general, you’d still rather have her running your strategy and tactics, right?

    The Pals will feel cheated whether they receive 94.5% or 101%. I’d really rather have somebody smart handling the negotiations, though. If Mofaz couldn’t handle a tiny little primary, why do you expect him to be able to run the country with all of its complexities?

  • Yisrael: In all instances she followed the rules. In basketball there is no provision for adding time to the clock in the case of a limping player. In these elections there was a legal opportunity to allow for an extension of time. One of Livni’s reps was on record stating that the extension was requested because of overcrowding at some polls – that some people who had arrived on time to vote would not have been able to as a result. The committee weighed the merit of the argument and extended voting by 30 minutes as is their prerogative to do.

    In no case here was there by any stretch of the imagination any cheating going on. Ms. Livni’s reputation remains intact in the eyes of any reasonable person. Frankly, I’m a little surprised at your characterization. I mean ok, maybe you have issues with Livni or Kadima, I don’t know. But this accusation of cheating is so patently nonsensical it’s a wonder you would make it.

    If I had issue with Livni’s election I would note that only 1% of Israelis are voting Kadima members and of that number barely half voted for Livni. Thus 1 quarter of 1 percent of the Israeli population has effectively chosen who the next PM of Israel will be – assuming Olmert steps down soon. That seems noteworthy. This malarkey about Livni cheating however seems beneath you.

  • To paraphrase Ben-Gurion: legal-shmegal. Try that in the national elections. If Olmert filches the party purse, is that permitted and it’s only criminal when he does RishonTours?

    It’s not beneath me because I would never think that a Ms. Clean politician would stoop so low, and I know her personally for over ten years, from before she became involved politically. If that’s her method now, her premiership, if God forbid it comes to that, will be horrendous. In six previous appointments, she has done/accomplished nothing. Name one thing she did (even that UN Resolution was bupkus) as an accomplishment.

  • Middle, by now, 7 and 3/4 years on. it’s surely clear to everyone that Bush is not about to try to strong-arm Israel into anything. He’ll be the least of the new PM’s problems.

  • Tom, we’re reading the same news but interpreting it differently.

    Yisrael, there have been many instances in US elections where polling stations have been kept open until later. In fact, it’s commonplace when it’s a busy election. It’s not cheating and it’s not close to cheating. Cheating is when you prevent somebody from voting by some ruse or other. The fact that Mofaz didn’t bother to challenge her victory despite grumbling about “improprieties” tells you everything you need to know about whether the election results are legitimate.

  • a. it wasn’t a busy election. maybe 50% voted.
    b. combined with the results of the polls, of a 10% lead, which Mofaz supporter would bother to run out?
    c. Mofaz is indeed pissed off. His “taking off time” is at least one indication. His not appealing is because he doesn’t trust the part apparatchiks.
    d. a politican who wins this way is not to be trusted.

  • It’s OK.

    When she tries to give away Jerusalem, the “government” will fall and there will be new elections. I doubt if she’ll outpoll Bibi (or whomever) at that point.

    Also, the politicians lost Lebanon II, not the army. It is my understanding that Olmert was presented with a plan to leapfrog the Hizb positions in the South by landing troops on the Litani and fighting southward. Olmert nixed it. Halutz thought he could win it from the air. He couldn’t. The actual commitment of troops was not major, as it would have been in a “real” war (i.e., a war that Israel took seriously), and once in the field the politicians couldn’t make up their minds.

    The problem for Israel is that in the past they have fought either incompetently led conventional armies or cowardly kleptocrats like Arafat and his gang who cut and run the second any real fighting actually starts (c.f., the Hamas Gaza “coup”, which was just a dry run for what is bound to happen in Yehuda and Shomron before long). They mistakenly thought that Hizb was like the PLO. But they’re not. They are dedicated fanatics who, for all of their savagery and lack of concern for their own people, are willing to fight and fight hard. Israel wasn’t ready for this. Thank G-d Israel was able to find this out in a limited regional skirmish as opposed to a real war.

    I don’t mean to belittle the sacrifices that Isral made in Lebanon II. But compared to ’67 and ’73, it was small potatoes. And again, had it continued, Nasrallah would have been the one begging for peace. He admitted as much when he said he was surprised by the ferocity of Israel’s response. Olmert lost his nerve, that’s all.

    Unfortunately, Israel allowed itself to be bamboozled and bludgeoned into accepting a UN resolution that has done nothing but give Iran the run of Lebanon right up to Israel’s northern border. IIRC, Livni was FM at the time.

    Some legacy.

  • Politicians don’t fight wars. Soldiers do. Trying to excuse the IDF doesn’t help it to fix itself.

    Yisrael, if you want to invent some reason to badmouth Livni, then congratulations at having succeeded. Of course, it’s just fiction and there is no reason to distrust or attack a person who hasn’t had a chance to lead. This is reminiscent of what the Republicans did to Bill Clinton. Ultimately, the political game ends up hurting the entire country.

  • TheMiddle:

    a. I am not a liar nor inventor
    b. And as long as you remain anonymous, I must consider you a fiction.
    c. there are many reasons I wouldn’t trust her although, as is said, personally, she’s a lovely person. Her Temple Mount pupik hook-up was a wonderful statement even if she doesn’t mean a word and surely will give it away.
    (see http://myrightword.blogspot.com/2007/07/tzipi-livni-and-temple-mount.html and http://myrightword.blogspot.com/2008/08/tzipi-livni-and-temple-mount.html

  • Unless I’m completely mistaken, the IDF cannot just ignore the government and do whatever it wants to do. It fights under the orders of the government. Olmert’s belated decision to commit more ground troops at the very end after dithering for weeks cannot be blamed on the IDF command.

    I do not deny that there are a lot of problems in the IDF that need to be fixed. Incompetent, craven, self-serving and cowardly politicians is not one of them, however.

    A dead snake riots from the head down. Lack of courage and vision at the top cannot but filter dopwnwards through the ranks.

    Any politician with even a shred of honor and integrity would have taken responsibility after the debacle and stepped down. The very fact that Olmert seems to think that he didn’t failt the country is precisely the problem.

  • Yisrael:

    a: I’m not suggesting you’re a liar, just very creative.You’re applying ridiculous standards to Livni. Let her govern for a week before the bad-mouthing begins. If Mofaz can’t take care of himself, he can’t run Israel.

    b: People usually say this at the point where I’ve annoyed them a great deal. Sorry.

    c:Trustworthy or not trustworthy? I think the difference between us is that you think you know and I think I don’t know but plan to give her a chance to do something before I decide.

    Read the Winograd Report.

  • Are you absolving Olmert of the criminal negligence he displayed during the whole fiasco? If he had any honor he would have resigned.

    Again, I’m not saying that the IDF doesn’t have problems that need fixing. I’m saying that the collapse was total, including the government. Are you trying to say that the IDF could have succeeded in spite of the lack of political leasership and obvious indecision in the cabinet?

  • Great, we’re entering a phase in this world where our enemies get tougher and smarter and our leaders get weaker and dumber. Only in an upside down world do people think that the answer to more aggression from your enemies is to respond with more docility.

  • So long as you don’t blame it all on the IDF, OK. A hell of a lot more needs to be done than fixing the IDF, and the Winograd Report blamed pretty much everybody so far as I could tell.

  • Best of luck to her, but on the face of it it’s startling that Livni may emerge as PM after serving in a party/coalition that’s been an abject failure in its foreign and defense policy. Didn’t she threaten to resign, then reverse course, in the aftermath of the Lebanon war? She doesn’t seem like a profile in courage.

  • “there is no reason to distrust or attack a person who hasn’t had a chance to lead. ”

    Useless logic – why don’t you let my 10 year old neice fly a 747?”

    “This is reminiscent of what the Republicans did to Bill Clinton. Ultimately, the political game ends up hurting the entire country.”

    Lets see, Arafat visited the WH under Clinton more than any other foreigner. Clinton almost got Barak to surrender more than Monica did, and you are crying about Repubs?

    Get out your rubber boats; Tzipi will have you lined up on the TA beach to reverse exodus once she gives it all away with Obama’s friend’s help.