There are 120 seats in Israel’s Knesset, the seat of government. There are 120 because there were 120 elders who governed the people during the Babylonian exile 2,500 years ago. This was in the time after the kings.
Today, it is interesting that when a “right-wing” leader is elected — Benjamin Netanyahu or, for a time, Ariel Sharon — the people chant “Bibi, King of Israel!” or “Arik, King of Israel!” The past is always present among God’s people.
Another similarity is that just as there were mediocre leaders thousands of years ago, nothing really changes with the passage of time. If Kadima leader Tzipi Livni succeeds Ehud Olmert and becomes Israel’s second female prime minister, mediocrity will continue.
And not because Livni is a woman.
Livni is a former Mossad agent; her personal courage shouldn’t be questioned. Her political judgment, however, leaves much to be desired. Just like some other leaders Israel has been saddled with in the past 60 years.
Olmert finally faced the facts and has pledged to step down. It was left to Livni to form a coalition government and assume the prime minister’s office. She couldn’t do it.
Shas, the Orthodox religious party, usually holds Israeli governments hostage with its entitlement demands. If a prime minister won’t play ball and relinquish massive funds to needy Israelis, Shas leaves the government, and that usually means a prime minister doesn’t have the necessary members to form a coalition. That was the situation Livni recently found herself in.
Livni is like any other politician: she wants power. A former member of the rightist Likud party, she broke ranks and joined Sharon’s new party three years ago. Kadima in many respects is no different from the traditional Labor Party, which would roughly be the equivalent of America’s Democrat Party. In fact, it was Labor politicians who took Israel down the dreadful road of Oslo more than a decade ago. Shimon Peres in particular hatched that horrible “peace process” with European and Arab leaders. The result has been death and danger for the Jewish state.
Peres, as president of Israel, has the authority to call early elections, since Livni could not form a governing bloc. That means that in all likelihood, Livni will be pitted against former premier Netanyahu, probably early next year.
As time passes, it matters little who wins Israel’s top job, simply because the forces of appeasement have wedged Israel between a rock and a hard place. It was one thing for Peres and like-minded Israeli politicians to push for “peace” with the Palestinians; it was quite another thing for an old hawk like Sharon to lament Israel’s “occupation” of the Arabs, as he did before being felled by a stroke. Such a statement by Sharon undermined Israel’s legitimacy. In other words, we now have a situation where Israeli politicians on the left and the right are advocating surrender. Olmert himself, known formerly as a strong Zionist, has noted that Israel is now “tired.” He also has opened the door a bit wider on negotiating over Israel’s last red lines, including the sovereignty of Jerusalem.
It is hard to know what was in Sharon’s mind when he made a sharp turn to the left, punctuated by the ghastly pullout from Gaza. More than likely, the old general felt Israel had sufficient military strength to deal with any threat. But the greater problem is the intensifying international squeeze on Israel. No concession is enough. No demand is too much. Once Israel’s own leaders appear tired and weak, it’s a matter of time before her numerous enemies move in for the kill.
One almost feels sorry for Netanyahu. Raised in a strong Zionist family, he endured three of the roughest years any Israeli premier has lived through. In fact, one courageous journalist at the end of 1997 wrote a piece entitled “The Year of Hating Bibi,” which documented the fact that the Leftist media so loathed Netanyahu that they continually portrayed him in the most unflattering ways. He simply didn’t play Leftist ball by caving-in to every Arab demand. Had he not held fast, one wonders if the Jewish state would still be viable.
When Ehud Barak defeated Netanyahu in 1999, Time magazine wrote a “puff piece” on the new prime minister, no doubt giddy over the fact that a Labor leader was now in charge; that surely meant that Yasser Arafat was in reach of his goal of a Palestinian state.
Except that the old terrorist never had any intention of engaging in nation-building. Why would he? He was a career murderer, plotting hijackings and bombings for decades. A statesman? What a joke. One can’t make a poodle out of a pig.
That Westerners were hopelessly naïve was not so surprising. Bill Clinton hosted Arafat 13 times at the White House! His secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, once famously chased after Arafat as the wily old killer faked indignation and stormed out of negotiations.
Rather than wise-up to the real problem in the Middle East, the media and the international political community manufactured new charges against Israel. By demonizing and blaming Israel for every diplomatic setback, they have ensured that peace will never come in the way they’ve always thought of it.
Either Livni or Netanyahu will lead Israel beginning in 2009. Sadly, it really doesn’t matter.
Israel will not have peace until her real King emerges. Let us pray that day won’t be too far off.