Livni at Shurat HaDin — No Left & No Right
I was all prepared not to like Tzipi Livni’s speech at the Shurat HaDin conference in Jerusalem this year. Speaking just before our first coffee break on the first day (20 June), she sent me off to my caffeine fix pleasantly surprised and uplifted. It doesn’t mean I agreed with everything she said, because I did not.
I will first tell you about the two things with which I strongly disagreed, and not in the order she discussed them in her speech. For one thing, she talked about the “two-state-solution” (2SS) as if it is the only game in town. As if the only alternative to the 2SS is a one-state-solution and the inevitable demographic defeat of Israel as a Jewish state. I suggest she familiarize herself with other options that have been set out and are open for consideration. These include, but are not limited to, Bassem Eid and The Jewish Home Party who actually put forth a very similar idea, and the Palestinian Emirates option proposed by Mordechai Kedar. I find it interesting that a right wing party and a Palestinian Arab think along similar lines, but most interesting is Kedar’s suggestion. What these ideas do for us is open up the frame for conceptualizing the Israeli-Arab conflict and get us out of the unending loop in which the entire world seems to be trapped.
The other point of disagreement concerns the issue of “the shooter from Hebron”. She did not call him by that nickname, nor did she give the soldier’s name. She was far too elegant for that.
Those who attack the Supreme Court and attack army officers who speak out against a soldier who shoots a terrorist are not supporting Israeli values.
My disagreement lies in the way Livni suggests hamstringing public debate about issues that are of vital concern to all of us. Of course it is legitimate to criticize the Supreme Court and army officers’ public statements. The only way to move forward and have all our public agencies evolve in a healthy manner is to promote open discussion, even if that discussion is sometimes rancourous and loud. To call outcry and criticism “attack” is to seek to shut down discussion.
The issue of a soldier, or many soldiers, who shoot a terrorist, or many terrorists, after the terrorist/s seem/s to have been neutralized, is to be decided in a court of law and not from a lectern in the Knesset or anywhere else. And especially not in the heat of the moment, just after a condemnatory video taped by an interested party had been released onto the social media. Here is what I would have liked army officers and political leaders to have said when the video first appeared, and what Livni could have said at the conference:
The video looks damning. But all the relevant facts of the situation are not available to us and we do not fully appreciate the context of the soldier’s action. Let us all wait patiently until the court will have had the opportunity to examine all the evidence and determine whether or not the shooting was ‘good’.
Here are the points Livni made that I found uplifting:
- We need to call terror committed by Muslims ‘Islamic terror’.
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened the door to the Palestinian Authority such that now we are not only faced with condemnation but also with criminal charges.
- It is true that there is antisemitism in the world, but the whole world is not antisemitic. Therefore, we need to pull together in order to put a wall between BDS and the world and not let them put a wall between Israel and the international community.
- The world sees Israeli soldiers and the Palestinian Arab child. However, Israeli soldiers, her own sons among them, do not take off their values when they change from civilian clothes into their army uniforms. We need to help the world see our soldiers as human.
- Israel is not a matter of left versus right – we are all on the same side. Let us be united by our values.
- We cannot just blame the world for our current situation — we need to keep strong in our values for the sake of our children.
- Recognized terrorist organizations are turning themselves into legitimate political parties. She referred to Condoleezza Rice who said that according to pre-election polls, the terrorist-political parties will not win, but events proved the polls wrong. That was the case with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
- We need to insist that other democracies judge us according to their own standards and not by some double standard.
We should never accept any comparison between Israeli soldiers and terrorists!
An interesting idea that was new to me was Livni’s proposal for a Universal Code for Elections. She claimed to be promoting a code that would include the stipulation:
We cannot say a country is democratic when political parties exploit democracy for terrorist ends.
MK Tzipi Livni speaks well. She has charisma. She prepared herself well for the audience at the Shurat HaDin conference and was brave to raise the issues of the soldier and the 2SS in a largely right wing gathering. I gained respect for her as I feel she carried herself respectfully and with respect to the audience. I only ask that she re-examine her idea regarding public criticism of sacrosanct Israeli bodies (the Supreme Court and army officers) and that she educate herself on still unconventional options for resolving our conflict with the Arabs living in the PA.