This weekend J Street, the liberal Zionist organization, holds its annual conference in Washington. It is very proud of the fact that Tzipi Livni will be the keynote speaker.
We have another big announcement about our upcoming National Conference which starts next Saturday evening in Washington DC: Israeli Justice Minister and Chief Negotiator Tzipi Livni will be joining us. Livni joins a great roster of speakers featuring Vice President Joe Biden, Special Middle East Peace Envoy Martin Indyk and nine other members of the Israeli parliament.
J Street embraces Tzipi Livni because it believes she can rescue the two-state solution. But in any other political context, it is impossible to imagine American liberals embracing such a figure.
Just look back at Livni’s record as Israeli Foreign Minister when she pushed the Israeli onslaught of Cast Lead– in which 1400 Palestinians were killed in 22 days in 2008-2009, a record worthy of the Egyptian army. And Livni sought to humiliate a Republican secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, when Rice sought to end the slaughter in the U.N. Security Council.
First, here’s Larry Derfner on Livni’s role:
Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, killing at least 230 people from the air on the first day then leaving more and more corpses and ruin that horrified nearly the whole world. Foreign Minister Livni was the war’s ambassador, arguing its righteousness to her good friend Condi Rice and other Western leaders. A couple of days after the war started, when the French proposed a “humanitarian cease-fire,” Livni got on a plane to Paris where she stated, ”There is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.”
That was it for her career as an alternative to the Likud. If you can support such an onslaught, such an exercise in overkill when Israel was still blockading Gaza and subjugating the West Bank, when for years it had been raining incomparably worse hell on Gaza than Gaza had on Sderot, and when Hamas had publicly offered to stop firing rockets in return for an end to the blockade and a cease-fire in the West Bank – if you can support such an immoral war, you can no longer stand for peace or morality.
Now here is an account of Livni’s actions from Condoleezza Rice, in her book, No Higher Honor.
As Cast Lead began, Rice assured the Israelis that she would try and hold off a Security Council resolution to stop the conflict. But then she met with the French foreign minister and Arab leaders– and Palestinian P.M. Mahmoud Abbas called her and “begged” for a resolution lest the West Bank explode. So Rice changed her mind.
“I will stay here tonight to see if we can find a solution,” she promised the Arab leaders. And she negotiated a resolution calling for both sides to cease fire.
The resolution angered Israel and its friends. “I agreed with [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert; I thought the terms shameful,” neoconservative Elliott Abrams writes in his record of the events.
“[Condi] and I had an unhappy conversation as I drove home from work at 8 p.m. What’s wrong with this language, she asked; she did not see what Olmert was screaming about.”
Olmert screamed at Rice. And so did Tzipi Livni, Rice recalls:
Olmert, when he called me in New York, was enraged. He thought I’d double-crossed him by agreeing to a resolution.
Tzipi Livni, who would stand for election as prime minister in a few weeks, called too. “This is a disaster,” she said.
“You haven’t even read it,” I countered. “Would it help if the U.S. abstains?”
“Yes, it would,” she answered.
In the end Rice abstained in the Security Council on the resolution, and the Arab leaders thanked her for doing that much. Then Olmert trashed Rice in the press. “You snake! I fumed,” Rice recalls in her book.
Tzipi Livni was not done making demands on a rightwing administration.
A day before Rice was due to leave the State Department in January 2009, at the end of the Bush administration, Livni called her, demanding that Rice invite her to the State Department and then sign a memorandum of understanding with the Israelis stating that the U.S. would not tolerate arms entering Gaza from Egypt.
“I need to come there and sign the document,” Livni said. “We need a visible demonstration that the U.S. will guarantee these arrangements.”
“Tzipi, there isn’t time. I’m leaving office tomorrow…”
But she persisted… “I’ll be there tomorrow morning.”
I realized that the Israelis needed this one last show of support and that Tzipi, because of her bid to become prime minister, needed it most of all. I guess I can do this one more time, I decided.
So Rice spent her last morning at State with the minister of Foreign Affairs for a small Asian country, signing a memorandum of understanding she didn’t want to sign.
I ask again: Why is a liberal American organization hosting someone who played such a prominent role in a war targeting civilians? Because lobbying for Israel means that Jewish American groups must pressure the United States– under Republicans and Democrats alike– to support a militant garrison state.