The outcome of the 2009 election is clear: Tzipi Livni beat the left and was beaten by the right. Kadima's leader made a dramatic achievement by breaking the Labor Party and crushing Meretz. However, she failed to bite chunks out of the right-wing bloc. Thus the right will have a solid majority in the Knesset, allowing it to form the next government.
Livni's sweeping victory campaign not only empowered Avigdor Lieberman, ruined Ehud Barak and destroyed Haim Oron, it shaped an unprecedented government system ruled by three parties headed by Likud graduates. A government system with no left.
Nobody killed the left; it just committed suicide. In a sudden outburst of tribal frenzy it voted for the party of two wars rather than parties of restraint - for Daniel Friedmann's party, not for the rule-of-law parties. The left abandoned the politics of truth and values to embrace that of spin and images. At the moment of decision it chose Kadima's Yoel Hasson over Meretz's Zahava Gal-On; it voted for Reuven Adler, not Amos Oz. Instead of following in the footsteps of David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin, the left walked the Kadima way.
Why did the left commit suicide? Because of fear and loathing. Fear of Benjamin Netanyahu and loathing of Ehud Barak drove the left out of its senses in recent weeks. The fear and loathing were refined into a great sweeping love for Livni.
And when the left fell in love, it stopped asking questions. In fact, it prohibited any questions. Like the children of Hamelin, half the peace-camp people followed the piper Eyal Arad and ended up in the river. They found themselves represented in the 18th Knesset by Shaul Mofaz, Tzachi Hanegbi, Ruhama Avraham Balila, Eli Aflalo and Otniel Schneller.
Livni's success is huge. Hollow or not, the foreign minister is a great campaigner. Although she was the high priestess of the war in Gaza, she managed to gain the support of the left, which thought the war was a crime. Although she wooed Lieberman openly she won the votes of those who want only to stop Lieberman. Although she is flanked by Hanegbi and Haim Ramon, she managed to get the votes of those who support the Supreme Court and the fight against corruption.
Livni cracked the left's "white tribe" code. She managed to turn herself into the tribe's princess. But this achievement will not make her prime minister. Because of this achievement, the next government will not have a proper left-wing alternative.
There was no real chance of defeating the religious right-wing bloc in this week's election. The sane, realistic alternative was a national unity government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Livni and Barak. But the illusion of defeating the right, which Adler and Arad created, deceived many and true.
The result is harsh. The next government's founding axis, instead of Likud-Labor, will be Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu. Ironically, those left-wingers who abandoned the leftist parties to stop Netanyahu didn't stop him. All they did was strengthen Lieberman. They may even have foisted on Netanyahu that extreme right-wing government he tried so hard to avoid.
The people have spoken, and their will must be respected. Labor and Meretz must serve the state from the opposition and the left-wing deserters must do their own soul-searching.
In all likelihood Netanyahu will be prime minister, but to prevent the blackest possible future we must make every effort to ensure that Kadima is Likud's partner in the government. In these circumstances, a Bibi-Tzipi government is the lesser evil.
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