Livni campaigns at Mahane Yehuda

Olmert spends last day before elections in the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

livni sits 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
livni sits 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Just four days after Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert anointed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as his deputy, Livni did his dirty work Monday, taking a difficult pre-election walk through Jerusalem's Mahaneh Yehuda market. While Livni was being heckled in the market, Olmert was where he had been for the vast majority of this campaign: out of sight in his office at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. There he held a number of meetings on the last day before the elections: one with Shimon Peres and another with Greek singer Glikeria, who sang to him and wished him well. Livni had to be wishing she, too, was being serenaded in her office, rather than trying to push her way through an unfriendly crowd at the shouk. A small but vocal group of protesters waited at the entrance to the market at 2:30 when Livni's car arrived. Even before she arrived, part of the group was chanting slogans saying, "Tzipi Livni, leftist," "Kadima is corrupt," and "Kadima is a danger for the Jews," while another group of four or five men with large, white Bratslav kippot danced to the beat of a bongo drum. When Livni arrived, she was encircled by her security detail and police, which slowly pushed its way up the main street of the market, past stalls stacked high with strawberries, cucumbers and avocadoes. The chanting continued, and about halfway through the market the police and her guards, apparently concerned that things inside the market were getting out of hand, ushered her by way of a side alley out of the market into a parking lot where she was taken to her next campaign stop: the Malha mall. A few flag-waving Kadima supporters tried in vain to create a positive atmosphere, chanting their party's name, but were out-shouted by the opposing camp. One black-shirted man holding a broom, looking like he just walked off the set of Mary Poppins, jumped on one stall and started to chant "Olmert, Olmert." A couple of vendors, seemingly playfully, threw pieces of fruit at him. "It was a mistake to bring her here," said Haim Yitzhak, a fruit and vegetable vendor whose stall Livni passed on her way up the market. "I like her, and I liked her father, but there isn't much support here for Kadima," he said. Livni's father, Eitan Livni, was a former IZL commander and Likud MK. Yitzhak said that Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra faced a similar scenario when he went campaigning in the market two weeks ago. He said Labor's Matan Vilna'i received a better reception a few weeks ago than either of them. Yitzhak, who has worked in the market for more than 20 years, said that despite deep disillusionment among the vendors with the Likud most of them would - as was traditionally the case - vote for that party. "If for no other reason than to show allegiance to Betar Jerusalem," he joked. A huge press contingent, including a number of foreign camera crews, attached to the group and made navigating the narrow street more difficult. When Livni stopped at one point to try to talk to one of the merchants, a cameraman knocked over a few plastic toys that were piled up on one stall. The angry vendor leapt from behind his stall and pushed into the foreign cameraman, who had no idea what he had done. "Leave us be," the vendor shouted. "Just leave us be." After leaving Mahaneh Yehuda, Livni went to the mall, but didn't have much better luck, running into Knesset hopeful Baruch Marzel and right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir. The two shouted at her, "Shame on you, you guys have destroyed the state of Israel."