Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni may not be a crook, but she is a fraud. And if polls are to be believed, Livni the fraud is just one fraudulent election away from becoming our next prime minister.
Her basic dishonesty is expressed both in her political maneuverings and in her behavior as a policymaker. In both areas, she upholds herself as Mrs. Clean – the servant of all of us who are sickened, demoralized and revolted by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his hordes of corrupt Kadima colleagues and staffers. But she is not our servant. Rather than serve us, like Olmert and her Kadima colleagues, she lies to us in a continuous bid to expand her power.
Case in point is her participation in Wednesday's anti-democratic Kadima primary, which will elect the party's new leader to replace Olmert, who of course is both a fraud and a crook.
Unlike all the other party primaries that have been held over the years, this one is designed not as a preparatory step ahead of general elections to the Knesset. Rather, it is intended to replace general elections. The expressed goal of Livni and her three opponents – Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit – is not to ready Kadima for elections, but to select a new prime minister who will form a governing coalition that will bar the public from electing its representatives until March 2010.
KADIMA'S MOVE to trample the people's right to choose our leaders is not the only reason that its primary is an affront to the public. The primary is not just anti-democratic, it is also a fraud.
Only 15 percent of Kadima's members joined the party on their own initiative. According to analyses conducted over the past several months, these 15% are people who were swept up in the initial excitement when Kadima was formed by Ariel Sharon in 2005.
According to pollsters, like most Israelis, these idealistic Kadima members became disenchanted with the party over the past three years. Accordingly, they are the least likely to vote in Wednesday's poll.
The other 85% of Kadima's 70,000 members are people who were brought into the party by those nefarious standard-bearers of Israeli politics of recent years: the vote contractors.
Vote contractors are political bosses and paid political operatives who peddle their influence in various communities, labor unions and population sectors to persuade citizens to join specific parties as bloc voters.
In its brief political life span, Kadima's membership rolls have been subject to multiple criminal investigations. In one case now under investigation, up to 1,000 people were signed up for the party without their knowledge. Vote contractors forged their signatures on membership forms and paid their membership fees.
Although the media – which are openly biased in Livni's favor – have placed most of the blame for this state of affairs on Mofaz, the truth is that Livni has not shied away from backroom deals with influence peddlers selling votes. For instance, she has used Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee to sign up blocs of Livni voters in the Arab and Druse sectors. Arabs and Druse comprise 20% of Kadima's members and it has been widely predicted that they will cast the decisive vote. Livni is expected to win some 70% of their votes.
Then there is the Russian community. Here too Livni has hired vote contractors to sign up blocs of voters on her behalf. And like the Arabs and the Druse, there is no reason to believe that the Russian olim even support Kadima. They are just as likely to vote for another party in the general election. Livni knows this. She just doesn't care.
Owing to the basic fraudulence of Kadima's voter rolls, the fact is that regardless of the identity of the victor, he or she will be beholden not to voters, but to a few dozen influence peddlers. That Livni upholds this anti-democratic and wholly corrupt electoral farce as a legitimate path to the premiership puts paid the notion that she is an honest politician dedicated to cleaning up politics and making politicians accountable to voters.
LIVNI'S EMBRACE of fraud is the thread that ties her political machinations to her policy maneuvers. Indeed, fraud – that is deceit – has been her chosen tactic for advancing her political fortunes since she first rose to prominence in 2004.
The most blatant recent example of Livni's deceitfulness is her behavior on the issue of sovereignty over Jerusalem. For the past year, Livni has led the negotiating team with the Fatah faction of the Palestinian Authority. In her position, she has been the architect of whatever agreements the government has concocted regarding the surrender of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem to Fatah.
Supported by the local media, Livni and Olmert have denied the public the right to know what they are discussing on our behalf and so prevented any public debate about their actions. This is crucial for them because opinion polls show that their presumptive plan to withdraw from some 98% of Judea and Samaria and partition Jerusalem is not supported by the public.
The issue of Jerusalem is particularly sensitive. Olmert pledged to coalition partner Shas that he would not discuss the city with the Palestinians. Since Shas doesn't wish to leave the government, Shas leader Eli Yishai pretends he doesn't know that Olmert's pledge was a fraud. For their part, Livni and Olmert defraud the public by claiming that Jerusalem is not on their diplomatic chopping block.
On Thursday, Olmert, Livni and Shas had their bluffs called when the US Consul in Jerusalem Jacob Walles told the Palestinian Al-Ayam newspaper that the government has agreed to give the Palestinians control over most of eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem. Livni and her representatives were outspoken in their angry denials of Walles's statement.
Yet as Channel 10 reported on Sunday night, just a few weeks ago, Livni told her supporters that she is negotiating the partition of the city. Livni has told sympathetic reporters of her intention to form a far-left governing coalition with the non-Zionist Meretz party that will be supported from the outside by the anti-Zionist Arab parties. But she doesn't want the general public to realize how radical she is. So she lies.
LIVNI'S LIES about Jerusalem are of a piece with all the lies she has told and all the frauds she has advanced over the past three years. In 2004 as justice minister in Ariel Sharon's government, Livni concocted a detailed fraud to compel her Likud colleagues Binyamin Netanyahu, Limor Livnat and Silvan Shalom to vote in favor of Sharon's bid to withdraw from Gaza and northern Samaria and expel all Jews from the areas.
Livni authored what she referred to as the "compromise agreement." Forming the basis of the government's decision in favor of the withdrawal, it stipulated that the Jews would be expelled in four stages over a period of several months. At each stage, the government would stop to reevaluate and each new stage would have to be separately approved. This decision was legally binding.
Right after she convinced her colleagues that Sharon would respect the compromise deal and so secured their votes, Livni discarded her grand compromise. Arguably in violation of the legally binding decision she had herself crafted, Livni, together with Sharon, claimed that national security considerations overrode the stipulations of the decision and therefore Sharon was within his rights to order that the expulsions be carried out in one operation that lasted a less than a week.
And defrauding her colleagues to advance her political fortunes wasn't the only way Livni exploited her undeserved reputation as an honest woman during her tenure as justice minister. In the months leading up to the expulsions, she presided over the country's law enforcement bodies as they systematically trampled the basic legal rights o
f law abiding citizens who sought to demonstrate their opposition to the expulsions.
Thousands of protesters were illegally arrested and held in jails for weeks at a time without charges being brought against them. In many cases, groups of demonstrators were illegally charged as groups. Protesters were physically assaulted by police. Buses carrying protesters to legal demonstrations were illegally blocked on highways.
A few months after the withdrawal and expulsions were completed, Chief Public Defender Inbal Rubinstein's office released a report documenting how laws were prejudicially enforced based on the demonstrators' political views. Livni's response was to threaten Rubinstein with firing. Rubinstein apologized for releasing the report and mumbled something about it not representing the views of her office.
This, of course, is not how one would expect a politician dedicated to the sanctity of the rule of law and good governance to behave. But it is how one would expect a politician motivated only by her will to power to behave.
In her belief that all ends justify the means, Livni is a loyal representative of Kadima. She has defrauded the public by lying about the fact that she is actively advancing the cause of Jerusalem's partition. She has defrauded her political colleagues by crafting "grand compromises" she knows will never be implemented. She is defrauding the public by using a fraudulent electorate to catapult her way into the prime minister's office. And she does all of this while deceiving us into believing that she is competent to lead.
She tells us that the cease-fire with Hizbullah she crafted which paved the way for the Iranian proxy's takeover of Lebanon was a diplomatic success. She tells us that we have no option of victory over our enemies and the best we can do is beg others to defend us. And she tells us we should give her the reins of power because she tells us the truth.
The public is powerless today to do anything in the face of Livni's and Kadima's trampling of our democratic system and open contempt for our national interests. It can only be hoped that whenever elections are eventually held, we will punish them for what they have done.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.