Golda Meir becomes antihero in Kadima race

Both Livni and Mofaz single out Israeli's first and only female prime minister in weekend interviews.

golda meir 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP archive photo)
golda meir 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP archive photo)
It was expected that the Kadima leadership candidates would make an effort to differentiate themselves from an unpopular prime minister. But unexpectedly, the prime minister who has been dragged into the Kadima race as a negative example is not the incumbent, Ehud Olmert, but the much-maligned former premier Golda Meir. Both front-runners in the Kadima race, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, singled out Israel's first and only female prime minister in weekend interviews with Yediot Aharonot. Livni was portrayed as hounded by comparisons with Meir, who like Livni served as foreign minister. The article quoted a Kadima activist in Mazkeret Batya telling Livni that she, like Meir, needed to make more of an effort to connect herself to the people. "I have no role models," Livni said when asked about Meir. "I certainly did not admire Golda." Livni's associates denied that the comparisons with Meir bothered her. They said she did not connect to her, because she came from a home with right-wing views, while Meir was a prime minister from Labor. Mofaz made a point of comparing Livni to Meir, who was blamed for not mobilizing forces and allowing Israel to be surprised by the Egyptian and Syrian attacks that started the Yom Kippur War. "With all the respect I have for [Meir], I think that in the Yom Kippur War, she was helpless in the debate between her defense minister [Moshe Dayan, who opposed large-scale mobilization] and IDF chief of General Staff [David Elazar, who advocated a preemptive attack]. She had a difficult time deciding between them. I hope we don't find ourselves in a similar situation of having a prime minister lacking knowledge on security issues and in a war like the Yom Kippur War," Mofaz said. Livni spent the weekend campaigning in the Druse and Arab sectors, where an Israel Radio poll broadcast Thursday found her trailing Mofaz by a huge margin of 71 percent to 4%. Mofaz's campaign said he took the weekend off. The four leadership candidates will send representatives to Kadima's Petah Tikva headquarters on Sunday to officially declare their candidacies. Each candidate will submit NIS 10,000 and at least 300 signatures of supporters to Kadima director-general Adi Sternberg and election committee chairman Dan Arbel. A technical dispute that resulted in a revote on the Kadima council's decision to hold the primary was resolved on Thursday when enough votes were obtained in favor of holding the race. The revote was held at the insistence of Kadima activists who hoped to cancel the race in order to keep Olmert in power longer. The activists who initiated the revote appealed to the party's internal court and face a hearing on Sunday about the system used of allowing council members to vote via emissaries. "There has never been such a thing in Israeli politics," said David Schwartz, one of the appellants, We are not a pizzeria."