Color is briefly back in MK Dalia Itzik's cheeks, because we at last have a strong opposition - Kadima is launching a campaign. Some advertising agency made a few more pennies with the bumper-sticker slogan: "Netanyahu. 100 days, zero gains." After 100 days of a comatose opposition with no more gains to its name than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kadima is lashing out. Street fighter Itzik explains: "We suddenly find ourselves in a street brawl with the Americans, instead of demonstrating unequivocally that the Palestinians are the ones refusing peace."
Aside from a few other taunts about Netanyahu's character, this is all the opposition has to say on one of its most important days, the end of the new government's grace period. It's too early to tell whether the first 100 days of Netanyahu's government produced zero gains, but this is all the more true when applied to their Majesties' opposition of Tzipi Livni and Dalia Itzik.
There used to be an opposition. For 30 years Livni's political mentor Menachem Begin rocked the world as opposition leader. The German reparations, the kibbutzim, the Histadrut labor federation, the discrimination against non-European Jews were all kicked and trampled by the opposition. Likud-predecessor Herut offered a clear, distinct alternative, and Begin amassed a large public of supporters screaming themselves hoarse with protests in the squares until the revolution was ripe.
Labor, too, put up a genuine opposition for a few years, offering political and economic alternatives, territorial or functional compromise, a Jordanian option or socialism in our lifetime, until finally the plague of national unity governments overtook us. Ever since that day, for 25 years, we've only had parties born to rule and made to govern. Israel has had no opposition, even if every now and then the ruling parties lost their way - if they ever had one - and strayed into the opposition. Now we have a 3G opposition - Kadima.
Kadima has nothing to offer. It's doubtful this refugee party ever had anything genuine to offer except Ariel Sharon, but in opposition versus Netanyahu it seems to have lost both its way and voice. Netanyahu's nays are Livni's nays: nay to the lifting of the siege on Gaza, nay to the right of return, nay to Hamas. These nays render any peace impossible.
The ayes are also the same ayes. Livni can attack Netanyahu all week long for being so slow in following her lead, but this is not presenting an alternative. She can attack his susceptibility to pressure all week long, but this is exactly why he was eventually able to agree to her two-state formula. She cannot offer an alternative except being nice to Washington. She would have been intelligent enough to wink at U.S. President Barack Obama, to deceive the Americans yet again, perhaps even to convince them to believe Itzik's lies about the Palestinians' refusing peace.
Hooray. And then what? We'd have been sentenced to four more years of barren negotiations leading us to a dead end. After all, this was the way of the previous Kadima government. In fact, Netanyahu's "street brawl" with the Americans is precisely what can lead to much more than yet another "peace process" by Livni, who doesn't even have the courage to say clearly what she thinks on freezing settlement construction.
Kadima should have developed an alternative and attracted a large enough public to support it. The end of the occupation, if it ever comes, will be led by Netanyahu, Livni, Labor Party leader Ehud Barak or someone like them. It won't be led by a radical leftist. This is how it happened in the Soviet Union and South Africa. This move can be started from the opposition benches.
If Livni indeed believes that time is running out, it's her duty to be the first to wake up. She needs to use every stage to sound a clear warning cry, to meet with Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians, to wake up the dead public debate and take up a leadership role. It's not enough to feature in gossip columns, to tease Netanyahu ("Be a man and give in"), and even to think up witty stickers. After 100 days of zero gains, take another 100, Livni, wake up, create an alternative and fight for it.
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