Suddenly Tzipi Livni's authoritative voice was heard in the Knesset. "Let MK Hanin Zuabi have her say. Democracy is tested by its tolerance and readiness to hear other voices, even subversive ones," Livni said. Silence fell over the hall.
Zuabi ended her speech uninterrupted and the Kadima leader rose to the podium. Knesset members of all factions sat up straight, in anticipation of what she had to say. This always happens when Livni takes the podium. For an hour the opposition leader outlined her impressive credo, blasted the government and proposed a well-formulated alternative. Stop the blockade, it has only caused damage. I would have allowed the flotilla to reach Gaza; I'd call all the Palestinian people's representatives to the negotiating table immediately, to reach peace based on the 1967 borders and a solution to the refugee problem. Israel's international status and democratic character are immeasurably more important to its future than continuing the occupation.
Are you pinching yourselves? Of course you are. None of this actually happened, nor could it ever happen.
What did we get instead? While Zuabi was savagely attacked in the Knesset - Livni kept mum. While Livni's faction members shouted the loudest against Zuabi, threatening to shatter the country's fragile democracy - Livni kept mum. When the blockade continued - Livni kept mum. After Israel brutally abducted the flotilla ship - Livni skipped from one television studio to another, justifying the operation with frightening alacrity.
Take note: MK Livni is betraying her duty. She doesn't even understand it. She provides neither alternative nor opposition, merely the greed to step in after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Under her leadership Kadima has become a random bunch of nationalist, McCarthyist, militarist, chauvinist, loudmouthed bawlers, raising anti-democratic proposals in the Knesset as if it were the last radical right-wing party.
Who launched the most despicable attacks on Zuabi? Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, Yohanan Plesner and Israel Hasson were all in close competition for the most vulgar, gross abuse. Who raised the proposal to outlaw organizations that give information to foreign authorities? Ronit Tirosh and Otniel Schneller. And who initiated the bill to shut down a widely circulated Israeli newspaper? Marina Solodkin. What do they all have in common? They are all measly Knesset members, midget politicians, representatives of that centrist party Kadima.
Who needs far-right MKs like Yaakov Katz or Michael Ben-Ari when we have Tirosh and Plesner? Who needs National Union or Habayit Hayehudi when we have Kadima, a faction that deceives its voters. They voted for the center and got right wing. What drove Japan's prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, to resign last week? He broke one single promise to his voters.
Israel has no opposition. The last opposition died in 1977. Since Menachem Begin's rise to power, the opposition has become mute. A democracy with no opposition is like a fish without water. If anyone still needed proof of this, the flotilla episode provided it - a proven military and political fiasco with worldwide shock waves. These shock waves are scarring Israel irrevocably, while her majesty Livni's opposition continues to support and justify the operation. If anyone, either in Israel or the rest of the world, thought this bungling government had an alternative, they have been completely misled.
Let it be known in Jerusalem and Washington, Ramallah, Paris and London, where some people are still pinning hopes on the attractive woman with the white suits and pseudo-moderate rhetoric - Israel has no alternative ruling party. None. Stop counting on Livni, she is a flimsy crutch. Netanyahu is wearing a mask, the right wing is in disguise.
A dangerous, murky wave of nationalism and intolerance is washing over Israeli society. Some blame the Netanyahu-Lieberman government, but the truth is Kadima is no less to blame, no less responsible. It is not only silent, it is an active partner in the treachery. The only merchandise Livni has to offer - "the peace process" - is moldy and misleading. It's not peace, just a process.
Livni will have her photograph taken with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will smile with chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia, and the world will leave us alone. The only fire burning in her belly is the desire to become prime minister. Why? Just because.
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