Most Israelis know that a drastic change is needed to get things on a new path to peace and stability in the region. Most Israelis know that past leaders were not able to break the violence cycle through current thinking paradigm. And still, most polls expect the clear winner of the upcoming election to be the right wing Likud party. If the polls got it right, the next Israeli Prime Minister would be Benjamin Netanyahu. His last term as Prime Minister in 1996-99 was evidently unsuccessful, yet the Israelis seem to be amenable to giving him a second chance. Despite his past wrongdoings, Netanyahu is going to get elected this time, as the alternatives lack any public appeal.
Netanyahu patiently waited for ten long years to take the helm again. Countless nights of explaining and lecturing on Middle East current affairs on Fox news, NBC and ABC, you could see him everywhere. That is - if you were outside of Israel, living abroad. Netanyahu has been an Israeli ambassador, a job that suits him perfectly. He is eloquent, articulate, charming, everything but what qualifies to be calling the shots. But soon he is going to call the shots, and we'll lose our best spokesman. Nobody would be able to explain his erratic decision making. The world would not buy it. Israelis won't buy it. Nevertheless, he is still leading in the polls.
Then why are we heading in this direction? Is it because Israelis found Netanyahu to be so great all of the sudden? Probably not. Desperation and fear, the lowest common denominators, repeatedly lead Israelis to elect right-wing parties whom they think will strengthen Israel's position. You can also blame the lack of competition for this top office. The two other candidates - Ehud Barak, head of the Labor party and Tzipi Livni, leader of Kadima - are not putting up a fight that would truly challenge Netanyahu.
Ehud Barak promised a bright new day following his election to office in 1999. Israel did not get even a single bright new minute, let alone a full day. His efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict failed in the Camp David conference. While Barak had the support of President Clinton, PLO leader Yasser Arafat refused to sign the deal. Israelis ended up characterizing Barak as too eager to compromise and too willing to hand over holy land parts to the Palestinians. As for 2009, the Israeli public is satisfied with his service as Defense Secretary in the Gaza war and would like him to keep this position.
Tzipi Livni has been a professional public servant for years, leading to her current position as Minster of Foreign Affairs. But no matter what her accomplishments are, she can never become masculine enough. At times of war, voters are looking to crown a former General, the military-veteran type. Tzipi Livni served in the Israeli Intelligence Agency, Mossad, but she is neither a man nor a General. Livni's crucial campaign mistake was playing down her womanhood; therefore missing the opportunity of gaining the support of women voters. Now, at the eleventh hour, she is trying to leverage the issue of her gender. Too little, too late. She should have taken lessons from Hillary Clinton - her famous "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" line touched every woman, supportive of her or not. Where were you Tzipi? While you were sleeping, your competition was passing you by on the right lane.
Israelis have already given Netanyahu and Barak a chance to play the Prime Minister role, both of them leaving an after-taste of "no thanks, we wouldn't like to have you again!"
The only person who can try and lead a change is Tzipi Livni. She is the one that Israel needs but will probably (according to the polls) not get. Israel needs a fresh start, free of militant view, the compassion of a woman, the care of a mother. Livni would advance peace initiatives faster - not only because her very personal youngest is going to fight the next unnecessary war - but since she gained the best training for the job during her leadership tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Tzipi Livni is now more appreciative of Israel's neighbors, especially Egypt, in conflict resolutions and negotiations. She would work perfectly with President Obama, both young, former lawyers, hopeful for a change, with lots of positive energy. Livni would strive to achieve peace in new ways, preferring diplomatic resolutions over forceful actions, as shown by her expeditious trip to D.C for signing the Gaza ceasefire agreement. If you are looking for hope - she's the one; if you're looking for change - vote for her. Israel needs her now.