...Livni is correct. There are things that one does not do, but it is a great shame that she has not adopted this principle herself in her own personal behavior. I do not know of any well-run country in which a top diplomatic negotiator would hold a private meeting with the other side shortly after his or her government decided to suspend negotiations -- a complex decision with highly significant international components.
19 May '14..
On numerous occasions, I have heard Justice Minister Tzipi Livni express in frustration and sadness that Israel has not recognized the principle that means so much in England -- that there are things that one does not do. This is a principle that expresses binding norms of behavior in the personal and public spheres, without a need for legislation or a court decree.
Livni is correct. There are things that one does not do, but it is a great shame that she has not adopted this principle herself in her own personal behavior. I do not know of any well-run country in which a top diplomatic negotiator would hold a private meeting with the other side shortly after his or her government decided to suspend negotiations -- a complex decision with highly significant international components.
Everyone knows that Livni and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not talk about his doctoral dissertation in which he denied the Holocaust. They certainly did not exchange jokes, as Abbas is not known for his sense of humor (the best joke I heard from him recently was when he said he would be able to convince Hamas to recognize Israel). It is perhaps reasonable to assume that Livni presented Abbas with creative proposals on how to get around the Israeli government's decision to not conduct negotiations with the PA-Hamas terror partnership. U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and special envoy Martin Indyk undoubtedly saw the Livni-Abbas meeting as further evidence supporting their view that Israel was responsible for the failure of the negotiations, which Livni keeps trying to woo Abbas back to, a kind of fatal attraction.
Livni has become part of a long list of Israeli prime ministers, government ministers, Knesset members and academics who came to believe that they held in their hands the key to achieving peace with the Palestinians, the peace that they think is just around the corner.
This is modern messianism at its finest. Members of this list have searched, at almost every price, for ways to enshrine their names in history by accomplishing the unthinkable. They have competed with each other for how many concessions Israel could offer, including on Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. These knights of concessions have discovered that, at the moment of truth, the Palestinian partner changes direction and disappears. Livni needs to justify remaining in the coalition by trying to save her lost honor that was repeatedly trampled on by Palestinian obstinacy. But why should she do this at the expense of the government's integrity?
Last Shabbat, I was hosted by my father-in-law in Jerusalem. For many years, he was a professor of German literature at a university in New York. He showed me an illustrated children's book that was printed in Germany in the 1930s. The book and its illustrations portrayed Jews as evil people who planned to take over German property, spread diseases among the public and take German girls for themselves. This was malicious and nauseating propaganda. In the last picture of the book, beaten, bruised and humiliated Jews are seen being deported from Germany, with a group of teens wearing Hitler Youth uniforms standing nearby. The book was a hit in Germany and was found in almost every home. This was a preview of the atrocities to come.
The Palestinian Authority continues to incite against Jews. The style is similar and the wording is almost identical. The Israeli government should set only one condition for the renewal of negotiations -- an immediate cessation of incitement by the Palestinian Authority. Without this, there will never be peace. No further proof would be needed of the seriousness of the intentions for peace of the Palestinians.