Mother Teresa Bids Farewell

There are good things to be said about Tzipi Livni, but her contribution to peace is not one of them. Not only did she not contribute, she caused fateful damage to the cause

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Tzipi Livni enters a car after speaking at a news conference in Tel Aviv, February 18, 2019.
Tzipi Livni enters a car after speaking at a news conference in Tel Aviv, February 18, 2019. Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The Mother Teresa of peace has gone and left us. “She paid the price of peace,” said the Haaretz editorial two days ago, similar to what was written after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. “The hopes that you ignited will vanquish the despair,” her rival Ehud Barak waxed poetic, and even her hangman, Avi Gabbay, lamented the loss. There are good things to be said about Tzipi Livni, but her contribution to peace is not one of them. Not only did she not contribute anything, she caused fateful damage to the cause. Livni gave peace a bad name. Her peace was a racist, nationalist, cold, disgusting peace. It’s no wonder no one wanted it.

She didn’t even mean peace, she just wanted “an accord.” The accord she aspired to was based upon one thing: a Jewish state. Jewish and democratic, with priority for the former. When this is the motivation and the language, you can’t build peace. You can only evoke a negative reaction to it. Preaching peace out of revulsion for the other people, out of a desire to be rid of them – “the demographic problem”’ – cannot lead to peace with them. When the vision is “divorce between porcupines,” as she once put it, there is no way to breathe new life and hope into it. And without a new spirit, without a new chapter in the relationship, there can be no peace.

>> A champion of alliances in Israeli politics, Tzipi Livni rejected at finish line | Analysis

The accord she aspired to was born out of her aversion to the Palestinians. Like all the Zionist left, she just wanted them out of her sight. Separation. Us over here, them over there. No peace was ever made this way. Nelson Mandela didn’t speak this way about the whites in South Africa; Menachem Begin didn’t speak this way about Egypt. Begin showed respect for the Egyptians. Livni shows just the opposite for the Palestinians, like most Israelis. Even World War II ended with more hopeful words than those of the supposed Israeli peacemaker whom everyone is embracing now.

Only in the upside-down world of Israeli politics could she be called a leftist. Livni was and remains profoundly on the nationalist right. She wanted an ethnically pure nation-state and made any accord conditional upon the Palestinians recognizing Israel’s Jewishness. Not something that was demanded of Egypt and Jordan. She spoke about the Palestinians with typical Israeli condescension – never seeing them as having equal rights in this land, even after hundreds of hours of negotiations with them. “The Palestinians have to understand,” she often preached to them in interviews, as if she were their teacher. But she never “had to understand” their side. That didn’t count to her. Livni didn’t “have to understand” that their land was stolen from them in 1948, and that the policy of theft and humiliation and violence and occupation hasn’t stopped since then.

And security was only a matter for Jews, too, of course. Livni never understood that Israel bears a heavy moral responsibility, that without taking responsibility for its crimes and making amends for them, no peace will can ever be made, even after a thousand rounds of negotiations. All she wanted was a Jewish state, and to hell with the Palestinians.

The crimes of the occupation never interested her. She was a senior partner in them. During one of the peaks, Operation Cast Lead, she served as foreign minister, acting as publicist for the unbridled Israeli violence. Nor was she interested in the Palestinians’ suffering. Just give her a Jewish state and everything will be fine.

To her credit, though, at least she was one of the few who understood there was a problem and didn’t ignore it. To her credit, she did her utmost to bring about a solution.

Being the last one to seek a solution, amid a chorus of suppression and denial, is no small thing. Which is why I have written in praise of her at times. But she became the queen of the process. Just give her some negotiations, even if they lead nowhere, even if they cannot possibly lead anywhere. For her, negotiations were the goal. And they were useless. She was in favor of the two-state solution, with a united Jerusalem and most of the settlements and no right of return, not even a single refugee, as she once said, boasting of being “the most extreme on the refugee issue.” A warrior for peace? What a joke.