An interview with the leader of Israel's largest opposition party
Tzipi Livni, the leader of Israel's Kadima Party, the largest opposition party in the Knesset -- and the largest party in the entire Knesset, in fact -- sat down last month with James Bennet, the editor of The Atlantic (and a former Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times) and with Goldblog for an extended conversation about the tense relations between the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government, and about Israel's sinking image. She was tough on Netanyahu -- stating that he wants to turn Israel into a "Jewish ghetto." Though she warned us against turning our meeting into an "oy vey conversation," she did express her worries about how Israel's reputation in the world is hurting it even among American Jews. And most notably, she endorsed the idea that pressure from President Obama on Prime Minister Netanyahu is a service to Israel, saying that it is pressure from the American Administration that caused Netanyahu to endorse a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis."When Obama pushed Bibi, Bibi made some steps forward," she said.
Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
QUESTION: The relationship between American Jews and Israel seems to be under stress, particularly after Prime Minister Netanyahu's contentious visit to Washington a couple of months ago, in which he seemed to be chastising President Obama. Do you think the Prime Minister understands what's happening in the American Jewish community?