Movie character Forrest Gump popularized several expressions that remain part of
public discourse 18 years after the movie came out.
Two of them could
apply to former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who quit the Knesset and at least
temporarily left public life on Tuesday: “Just keep running,” and “Life is like
a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
chocolates in her desk drawer at her offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She
shared them with visitors and munched on them when her busy schedule did not
leave her time for regular meals.
Those chocolates were the closest she
came to the political bribery and backslapping politicians often need to succeed
in most any democracy.
On the one hand, Livni’s colleagues credited her
for trying to remain above the fray. But on the other, they said her
unwillingness to play the political game ended up hurting the constituents she
purported to serve.
Politics is a profession that requires compromise in order to achieve goals for
the greater good. There is a fine line between protecting one’s integrity and
letting voters down.
The content of the negotiations Livni conducted with
former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei when she was foreign minister
remain a secret. What compromises she made there are unknown, but based on
speeches she has delivered, she was clearly willing to take steps that would
have displaced tens of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea and
Had Livni also been willing to compromise with Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, she could have entered his government and kept on
negotiating with the Palestinians. Who knows what kind of agreement could have
been reached? Perhaps she could also have enabled changes to the political
system that could have ended the very political extortion she condemned so
strongly in her resignation speech.
With matters of religion and state
likely to play more of a role in the next election, it will be harder for
Netanyahu, if he gets reelected, to justify bringing Shas into his next
Chances are, he would prefer to form a national-unity
government with Kadima.
Such a government became more likely when Kadima
members voted in MK Shaul Mofaz to replace Livni, who could not get along with
Netanyahu. Ironically her very absence from politics could boost chances of
advancing the peace process and other issues dear to her.
Livni left open
the possibility of returning to politics. If Mofaz fares badly in the next
general election, she might sweep back in and run again for the Kadima
In politics, as in life, every eventuality is theoretically
You really don’t know what you’re gonna get. That is one of the
things that drives politicians to keep going.
The advice that Gump’s
mother gave him was to “just keep running.” Kadima’s founder, former prime
minister Ariel Sharon, gave younger politicians similar advice, telling them to
“keep your hands on the wheel until you get back on top.”
At least Livni
will have plenty of time now to eat more nutritiously.