The Great White Balloon Bursts

The era of Kadima-headed-by Mofaz will not be simple. Shaul is the exact opposite of Tzipi.

Three years ago, a cautionary note was published on this page: Tzipi Livni is not suitable. Tzipi Livni is really not suitable. Although she is a great campaigner - stubborn, simplistic and aggressive - she doesn't have what it takes to govern a country. She has no deep diplomatic insight, exhibits no comprehensive economic proficiency and doesn't have any emotional intelligence, period. She tends to one-dimensional thinking and self-righteous political behavior. This former Mossad agent has never left any kind of mark on any aspect of our lives.

The Tel Aviv attorney has no national achievements worth citing. By incredible coincidence, this reasonable MK from the Likud back benches just always seemed to be there. She was absorption minister, she was justice minister and she was foreign minister. Yet in none of these jobs did she do anything of substance or express an original thought. Her candidacy for prime minister was fundamentally unrealistic.

The Israeli public had no mistaken illusions about Livni. It understood that she wasn't made of the stuff that makes a national leader. It was the elites who refused to understand. From the moment Livni succeeded in positioning herself as the newest anti-Bibi, everyone converged around her and shielded her. The business community adopted her, the media coddled her and the peaceniks genuflected before the minister of wars.

Even though many people knew the truth, few spoke the truth. Even though it was clear that the brand was just a brand, only a few called it a brand. Noble forces and less-noble forces alike maintained the Livni illusion and inflated the illusion to an absurdity. They turned the Kadima chairwoman into one of the strangest political balloons to every waft across these skies.

In general, hot air balloons are colorful, optimistic and harmless. But Livni's balloon caused heavy damage. On the one hand, the heiress of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert prevented the establishment of a Zionist government based on the Likud, Kadima and Labor. On the other hand, the opposition chairwoman didn't succeed in building an opposition and leading it into battle against the government. On the one hand, she didn't enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to climb out of the religious-right-wing bunker, but on the other hand, she didn't succeed in causing that bunker to collapse on top of him. Livni is indeed honest, ethical and brave. But by being stubborn, tough and alienated, she paralyzed the political system. Her white balloon cost Israel three-and-a-half precious years.

This week the balloon burst. Shaul Mofaz stuck a pin into it and let out all the hot air. His decisive victory in Tuesday's Kadima leadership race has caused the great white hope to dissipate. The facade of "different politics" has collapsed. The illusion of an exclusive tribe has totally disappeared. The Kadima-headed-by-Livni era is over.

The era of Kadima-headed-by Mofaz will not be simple. Shaul is the exact opposite of Tzipi. He's not a man of words, but of deeds. He isn't a virtual figure invented by the media, but a real man of the people, a man of persistance and hard work. But to our great misfortune and shame, the white tribe will have a hard time supporting the Tehran native who made his own way by the sweat of his brow. With incredible hypocrisy, the left will oppose the chief of staff of the intifada who believes in a two-state solution. Shelly Yachimovich and Yair Lapid will vigorously attack the new social candidate who threatens both of them.

Thus, it will be as it has always been: The industrious and diligent kid from Eilat and Nahalal will have to climb the mountain on his own. Within a few weeks he will have to suggest a bold social and national agenda. Within a few months he will have to update his diplomatic plan and speak explicitly about evacuating settlements. Mofaz will have to quickly prove that he can lead on both social and security issues, that he has a diplomatic vision and a moral commitment that can be a counterweight to Netanyahu.

If he hesitates or stutters, Kadima will also collapse like a pricked balloon. But if he does what he plans to do, the sky's the limit.

Read this article in Hebrew