“No, no, no, I won’t play on Tzipi’s team. She’s a little giirrl.”

Gershom Gorenberg

Occasionally, pop culture offers the appropriate commentary on matters of state. To understand Shaul Mofaz’s feelings about Tzipi Livni winning the Kadima primary, view a snippet of this scene from She’s the Man, a remake of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night set in high school. (Sorry, there’s a block on embedding the clip.) The relevant bit here is at 4:18-4:36, after Viola scores the winning goal in the big soccer game. Watch the goalie in the orange uniform who failed to block the kick by the girl.

Ehud Barak seems to feel the same way about serving in a cabinet with Tzipi Livni as the boss. She’s not an ex-general, and she is a woman. How could she get picked as team captain? Barak’s Labor party is doing horrendously in polls of a three-way Livni-Netanyahu-Barak matchup. So why does he want to rush to elections? If he really thinks that Livni will do badly, he should want to give her a chance to show the job is too big for her. Ergo, he fears she will do well – but he doesn’t want to be on a team of which she’s captain.

Even if Livni puts together a cabinet, though, it will prove the limits of symbolic politics. You can have a woman premier, a woman chief justice, a woman speaker of the Knesset. But women still get paid less for the same work in the Israeli public service, as this report explains. Systemic change is a lot tougher than electing a single person. Have you heard Livni promise equal pay for equal work? I haven’t. Don’t get fooled by tokenism.

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