Thursday, January 1, 2009

Business-as-Usual Chutzpah

The last time I wrote about Tzipi Livni it was from an optimistic point of view:

The first time I saw Tzipi Livni on television, sitting with the other member of Ehud Olmert's Cabinet, I had her pegged for a tough cookie. I was therefore not surprised that she would come out on top of Kadima Party leadership in the wake of Olmert's announcement of resignation. What did surprise me was that her toughness would be exerted less on behalf of Israel's business-as-usual "territorial aggression" (as in continuing to build settlements in occupied territories) and more towards those fundamental principles of statecraft about which Dennis Ross had written so admirably in his book (a book which had been highly informed by his own experiences in trying to negotiate peace in the Middle East).

Israeli politics being what they are, one cannot pursue such statecraft without the chutzpah of standing up to some very aggressive opposition, such as that of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, which basically sees the Israel Defence Forces as the collective instrument through which all Palestinians will succumb to the Old Testament wrath of God. My failure to give Livni a Chutzpah of the Week award for her attempt to hang tough against such opposition would save me the trouble of considering retracting it today. Instead, I can use today to give her an award for her aggressive return to the status quo, seasoned with more than a soupçon of that denial for which George W. Bush has become so famous in my "chutzpah archives."

The basis for this week's award is best expressed in the report that Al Jazeera English compiled from their wire sources:

Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, has again rejected a French proposal for a ceasefire to allow aid into the Gaza Strip saying there is "no humanitarian crisis".

Israel's foreign ministry quoted Livni as having said in a statement during a trip to Paris that "there is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce."

Over the past six days more than 400 Palestinians have been killed and 2,000 wounded under an Israeli aerial bombardment.

The strip, home to 1.5 million people, is already suffering shortages of power, food and medical supplies due to a two-year blockade imposed by Israel on the area.

Livni was quoted as saying: "Israel has been supplying comprehensive humanitarian aid to the Strip... and has even been stepping this up by the day."

Some Angel of Rhetoric at least seems to have stilled her tongue before she could get out the notorious "Everything is under control." sentence; but it still takes real chutzpah to deny that Gaza is in a state of humanitarian crisis, much (most?) of which can be attributed to Israeli actions (which would probably include a rejection of the legitimacy of the elections through which Gaza chose to be governed and represented by the Hamas Party). Nothing is even close to "under control" in Gaza right now; and Livni deserves her chutzpah award for converting her power to hang tough against business-as-usual to hanging tough in support of it.

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