It's All Tzipi's Fault

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/03/its-all-tzipis-fault/37714/