Female political leaders are perceived either as bitches or weak, with no middle ground, Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said on Tuesday at an event in Haifa about the image of women in politics.
"When you look at women in positions of leadership, the choice for women is either to be bitches or to be weak," Livni said. "When I started I was tougher, I don't want to say bitchy. It was hard for me to be open, to show sensitivity. I thought that this would be perceived as weakness."
Livni, a former foreign minister, said that when she entered politics "it seemed to me as if there was no difference between feminine and masculine leadership. When I understood how I was perceived, I realized that I should exert more power and show less openness."
Earlier on Tuesday, Livni and fellow Hatnuah member Amir Peretz tried to visit an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery positioned near Ashkelon. They had not coordinated the visit with the Israel Defense Forces and were not allowed to enter the site. Instead, they stood outside the site and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Operation Pillar of Defense (Israel's eight-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in November) was extremely justified, but its finish conveyed much weakness," Livni said.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke at a Kadima party conference on Tuesday and attacked Livni and her Hatnuah party.
"[Hatnuah's] slogan 'Hope will overcome fear' is nice, but what actual content is there hiding behind [it]?" Olmert asked. "What are they proposing? What will be cut? What diplomatic steps need to be taken? The feeling that they are avoiding saying these things is very disappointing."