Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni didn’t have a good time at the just concluded Middle East Summit in Annapolis. In fact, she felt almost like the new kid in school who winds up eating lunch alone in the school cafeteria. Although she did get warm greetings from the Americans and most Western delegations, including American Secretary Condi Rice, she was either avoided or outright ignored by most of the Arab and Muslim delegates, especially those from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Algeria, and other Arab and Muslim countries.
I guess it’s understandable that the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Said al-Faisal, wouldn’t extend her the courtesy. After all, women are not exactly given equal treatment there, especially in light of the recent rape case where the female victim was herself sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in the can. And as for Syria, even though they did send their deputy F.M. there, his government must also not be ready to be “poochy moochy” with Israel’s F.M, female or otherwise.
Condi did try to make her Israeli guest feel better by comparing Tzipi’s experience with that of her own as a black child growing up in Selma Alabama, scene of some very nasty civil rights activities during the 1960’s. But Condi’s experiences, bad as they were, are not in the same light as the Israeli F.M, who found out to her chagrin that the A-rabs are not quite ready to be seen in friendly conversation with any senior Israeli official â€“ let alone a woman.
When she asked, “why is everyone treating me like a pariah?” she should realize that it’s really nothing personal, especially in regards to whom she was referring to. In a way, it’s probably better that delegations from Iran and Lebanon didn’t show up, as they wouldn’t have greeted her either â€“ especially Mahmud Ahmadinejad whoâ€™s still fretting over remarks made to him at the U.N. recently by Carnit Goldwasswer, wife of captured Israeli soldier Udi Goldwasser.
In all seriousness, Tzipi’s uncomfortable experience only reconfirms the reality of Israel’s position in the Middle East, especially in light of increased Muslim radicalism towards the West in general and Israel in particular. Had the Israeli F.M. been a man, he probably wouldn’t have fared much better; perhaps even worse. And with only half of the Palestinians represented at the conference, the other half being under the dominance of the ultra radical Hamas organization, the entire event appears to have ended with a hollow ring.
Even her boss, Prime Minister Olmert, didn’t win many friends there among the countries unfriendly to Israel. Be all this as it may, we can now get back to business as usual in this part of the world. And Tzipi might well do better at a UJA or similar gathering. At least they’ll shake her hand..