Livni Takes on Bibi’s ‘Masculine Voice’

January 7, 2015  

Addressing a mostly female audience at Rupin College in central Israel Tuesday, Labor MK Tzipi Livni had a few things to say about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s deep voice, which she apparently sees as being part of his political appeal.

“We will safeguard Israel’s security better than Netanyahu,” she stated categorically. “Yesterday, he tried to sound amused when he tried to convince people that only he, with the deep masculine voice, can safeguard security.

“But in the course of Protective Edge, he did not sound so amused when he called me in order to enlist me to help him get [US Secretary of State John] Kerry and the world to take Israel’s side.

“And generally,” she declaimed, “it is not amusing that Netanyahu was the one who freed thousands of terrorist murderers into Hamas’s hands, and negotiated with these terrorists in Protective Edge. Even the Palestinians sense his weakness in the world and are dragging Israel to the UN, and the IDF to the Hague.”

“So the answer to the question, who will take care of security, is not a matter of a masculine voice and an amused politician, but a true matter of standing strong against pressure, the ability to reach the right diplomatic decisions and to enlist the world to our interests.”

Voice lessons for Herzog

Questions of masculinity and femininity, and their relevance to the ability to handle Israel’s security, have come up repeatedly in Livni’s career, as she has faced former military men like Shaul Mofaz, Ehud Barak and Netanyahu in battles over leadership.

While Livni has derided the importance of a “deep masculine voice” for leadership, her own party co-chief MK Yitzhak Herzog has been taking voice, speech and intonation lessons to try and put some more oomph in his somewhat chirpy delivery style.

Herzog spoke about his image in December 2013, saying he is portrayed as a weak figure “because I’m thin, and I don’t have a low voice, and I have a baby face. They call me a nerd. I don’t know what a nerd is. I live a normal life, keep a family lifestyle, invest myself into public needs. …Maybe (being a nerd) is the right model for a public figure?”

His voice instructor, Rachel Hochman, recently told reporters that she is proud of her student when she listens to him speak. “In Israel it is rare, but in the US there is not one politician or even bank manager who does not work on his voice, because of the importance of a vocal presence, and I do not see anything wrong with it,” she opined.

Herzog tried out his new style in a recent speech in which he vowed to win the elections and bring a “revolutionary change” (“mahapach”), over and over again. The speech was received with some mockery and at least one skeptical remix.

In another derisive clip, the original soundbite is shown, together with a line from the Israeli comedy team Hagashash Hahiver, in a play on the similarity between “mahapach” and the words “mah ha’pach” – “what (about) the trash.”


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