The results are in and we have a change in the leadership of the Kadima Party in Israel from Tzipi Livni to Shaul Mofaz, who has headed the IDF and served as Defense Minister and now will be running for Prime Minister in the next election cycle. Much of the polling had shown that Kadima was likely to be weaker by changing leadership yet the voters chose to replace Tzipi Livni anyway. Some are blaming what has been described as Ms. Livni’s “Just say no” leadership style which appeared to simply be based on refuting anything and everything which the Netanyahu government proposed or did. This alienated her from almost everybody at some point as she seemed not to have any core beliefs other than denouncing Prime Minister Netanyahu for everything more complicated than breathing. Still, Mr. Mofaz was criticized as being a polarizing personality and his leadership was predicted to be problematic. This was the root of why polls predicted that Kadima would lose more seats in the Knesset in any elections. I doubt this will be the case.
Here is why I believe that Mofaz should be able to actually raise Kadima from the decline that has been the result of the Livni leadership. Tzipi Livni was guilty of rudderless leadership as she honestly did simply reject and complain about virtually everything done by the ruling coalition. Her refusals began immediately after the election when she adamantly turned down an offer to join in a unity government. It was as if she took the approach of if I cannot be Prime Minister then I will take my ball and go home and you will have to give me what I want or I will not let you play with the ball. The problem was Tzipi Livni did not own the only ball and Prime Minister Netanyahu had one as well and formed his own game, or coalition, and they have played happily thus far since. Her sour grapes approach is what has been behind the apparent collapse of Kadima’s support. But will Mofaz be able to turn things around or will he simply continue the decline?
Well, that is the question which the press has expressed a prediction that Mofaz will fail in returning Kadima to the popularity it once held. I believe that he has a golden opportunity which has landed in his lap. Should he be able to express an actual platform with consistent and understandable principles, then he could present something people can believe in and follow rather than simply being solely a naysayer. I think the reason why the media has such little respect for Shaul Mofaz as a leader is simply the little fact that at the age of sixty-one he has yet to hold a political leadership position and has only been in positions where he implemented other people’s plans and ideas. The one thing that Mr. Mofaz will either rise or fall on will be his positions pertaining to Iran, borders, terror, Lebanon which is currently under Hezballah control, and the Palestinian, both Hamas in Gaza along with Fatah in Judea and Samaria. Probably the one make or break position will be borders, the settlements, and Jerusalem. These are the issues next to protection against terrorism, order, and meeting the other threats that are important to most Israelis and they are probably the most contentious and controversial.
Unfortunately, this area might turn out to be Mofaz’s Achilles Heel. Past statements he has made indicate that he favored the disengagement from Gaza and supports a similar disengagement from Judea and Samaria returning Israel to its 1949 Armistice Lines, also known as the Auschwitz Borders. This would imply that in addition to forcing the eviction of close to a million Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria, but also includes the redividing of Jerusalem and giving up the Old City, the Temple Mount, the Kotel and the Western Wall. If these should prove to be his actual positions and he is unable to move away from them, then he probably will drive Kadima into the ground. Kadima’s success was due to its being a moderate middle of the road party and not taking extreme positions. It was that Tzipi Livni’s constant negativity was perceived as being an extreme position by some Kadima members who were put off and displeased thus causing the membership drain. Replacing Livni’s perceived extremism with actual extremism is not the solution to Kadima’s identity crisis. So, Mr. Mofaz will need to portray a moderate, middle of the road set of beliefs if he plans to rescue and revitalize Kadima. The central original driving ideology which made Kadima so attractive in its earlier days was the fact that it was pro-Zionist, nationalistic, yet socially leaned towards a more liberal set of principles. This should be the central tenets and principles if he intends to strengthen Kadima. Making Kadima into just another leftist party is not a recipe for success as why would anyone want to join a faux-Labor or faux-Meretz Party when they can just as easily join the actual Labor or Meretz Party?
Beyond the Cusp