Israel Elections Today: Tzipi Livni?

February 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

Today, Israel elects a new prime minister. This is one of the most important elections in Israel’s 50 year history. With a terrifying human rights crisis in Gaza, Israel must act for, and not against Palestinian welfare, as well as peace and human rights for EVERYONE! 

I really wish I’d followed this race sooner, but with all the political and economic excitement here at home, I’m a bit uninformed so please leave your info in comments!!

What I do know is pretty limited seeing as it is incredibly difficult finding information about Israel/Palestine that is not severely biased when nationalistic, ideological, and religious disputes are taking place all over the world about this new government. 

So here goes…

The tight race is between “right-wing” Benjamin Netanyahu and the more liberal Tzipi Livni. Netanyahu is noted as being anti-Arab. The more liberal candidate, Livni embodies an Obama-like rhetoric  and believes in compromise that lies on a foundation for peace. 

The fact is that Israel — though the election of Golda Meir in 1969 shows it is more advanced than the U.S. in terms of chronological women in leadership positions — still has a long path towards equality. This long path makes Livni stand out not just as a leadership candidate, but as a woman in power (I know, SHOCKER!). 

Focusing more on the current state of foreign affairs than her identity politics, Livni’s campaign has paid less attention to her gender than the surrounding propaganda….until it came time to fight back. The LA Times had the most straight-up article I could find that detailed the gender side of this election…

As a female civilian competing with Netanyahu and Barak, both former generals, Livni consistently talks tough on security.

She generally downplays the significance of her gender, portraying herself as a capable wartime leader.

“There’s a twisted logic which says that defense issues belong to men,” she said in a recent speech. “No man, including any general, has an advantage over me in this process.”

But at Friday’s women-targeted event, Livni displayed a different side. Her speech mentioned security issues only in passing and focused on the need for hope, optimism and a better country for Israel’s children.

“I will not allow people here to live in desperation, and without any hope for peace,” she said. “I tell you all: Snap out of the despair, because I am not prepared to give up on the word ‘peace’ and miss out on the opportunity.”

What I find most interesting about this excerpt is that it explicitly details gender as political, “targeting” voters using specific rhetorical appeals based on gender. 

As for Israeli election background in a broad sense, here’s the best I could find

Once again, please leave your knowledge of the conflict/election/Israeli politics in comments!

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