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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The good news and the bad news about Yair Lapid

Although I have lived in Israel for 21 years, I know very little about Yair Lapid, and much of what I know is colored by the fact that his father Tommy hated people like me. I don't watch television, so I don't know what he did there - maybe I should search on YouTube. In fact, until the current election campaign, the only thing I knew about Yair Lapid (and it took me a while to realize that we were probably talking about the same Yair Lapid) is that he ran a program that tried to allow Jews imprisoned in other countries around the world to come to Israel to serve their prison sentences.

So I read this article by the generally sensible Yossi Klein-HaLevi (Hat Tip: Ze'ev via Twitter) with a relatively open mind.

Here's the 'good news' (even though I don't agree with all of it - there's very little on which I agree with the Left):

And yet, as Yair has insisted since entering politics, he is not his father. I’ve learned from my father, he’s repeatedly said, but also from his mistakes. Tommy’s biggest political mistake was his divisiveness: His party, Shinui (Change), was aggressively secular, not only attacking ultra-Orthodox separatism but mocking ultra-Orthodox beliefs and lifestyle.
By contrast, Yair has sought dialogue. Last year, in an address at the ultra-Orthodox campus of the Kiryat Ono College, Yair conceded that the ultra-Orthodox had won. Secularists, he said, thought we could create a state that would marginalize you, while in reality we can’t make any major political decision without your input. But, he added pointedly, secularists also won: We’ve created a modern state with a thriving Hebrew culture. And so, he concluded, both camps have to choose between continuing their culture war or jointly taking responsibility for the state they share.
More than any other party, Yesh Atid defines the country’s emerging cultural center. The son of Tommy Lapid has included no fewer than two rabbis on his list. But that list also includes Ruth Calderon, a leader of the growing movement of secularists seeking a new Jewish identity outside of Orthodoxy. The message is radical diversity within a shared Israeliness.
Yair’s ideological challenge will be to clarify the political center and give coherence to the instincts of a majority of Israelis. That centrist majority seeks a politics that isn’t afraid to acknowledge the complexity of Israel’s dilemmas. These voters agree with the left about the dangers of occupation and with the right about the dangers of a delusional peace. Centrists want a two-state solution and are prepared to make almost any territorial compromise for peace. But they also believe that no concessions, at least for now, will win Israel legitimacy and real peace. Centrists want to be doves but are forced by reality to be hawks.
And here's the bad news:
What has taken him this far is his straightforward thinking, precisely what Israeli politics so desperately needs. (And his political adviser happens to be his father’s closest friend, Ehud Olmert, the ultimate politician.)
Olmert is anathema to many Israelis, including me. Olmert is probably the most divisive and dishonest figure in this country in the last ten years. For someone who claims 'straightforward thinking' and that he is seeking to form a consensus, Olmert is a lousy adviser. 

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At 1:41 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Hmm... When I think of Olmert (and Livni), I think of summer 2006. We were pinned down south of Tel Aviv by Leb 2 rockets. There were people sitting in shelters in the north, wher we had just been, and some injured or killed by rockets. And I think of the dithering over responding. There was no perfect answer, I know that. But the dithering was trying to please Condi Rice and the "international community", who seemed to me to have been advocating for the rocketeers. That's my main issue with the Left, humans, the poor, the unconnected, left under attack. That and the FACT that Leftism brings hunger wherever it is tried around the world.


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