It's All Tzipi's Fault


That could be the title of a new all-Haredi sitcom.

Or it could be a diagnosis of Israel's current problem. Based on my e-mail traffic from the right end of the spectrum, people seem to think that, in a previous post, I was blaming Bibi for Israel's lengthy series of diplomatic screw-ups. I'm not, mostly. Mainly the problem is a system that gives disproportionate power to small, sometimes-revanchist parties, without whom governments these days can't be formed. I don't buy the conspiracy theory that claims Bibi knew about the Shas announcement but let it happen during Biden's visit; this makes absolutely no sense. Bibi, of all Israeli leaders, knows the importance of his country's alliance with the U.S.

But back to Tzipi. Tzipi Livni, leader of the centrist Kadima Party, made a decision to stay out of the government, a decision that looks more and more catastrophic each day. Without her, Bibi -- who is, in my belief, a pragmatist -- was forced to bring in far-rightists who seek to undermine any move to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians. Now, Bibi isn't faultless here. It's his job to lead. But if he could lead Israel together  with Barak's Labor Party, and Livni's Kadima Party, in a strong, center-right coalition, the events of this past week would probably not happen again.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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