Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid, star columnist and TV presenter, leaped into politics to form the centrist Yesh Atid party. Photo by David Bachar
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I'm for Yair Lapid. That wasn't always the case. Once, in the distant past, I was mean to him in a local Tel Aviv paper. Years later, I attacked him for turning from a journalist into a front man after he starred in a Bank Hapoalim campaign, in violation of the prohibition against engaging in advertising that is part of the code of ethics for journalists. In response, Lapid wrote that I envied him for the "wads" of money he was getting - and yes, that remains true to this day. Apparently I don't have a shot at getting onto Lapid's party slate. He's an optimist and I'm a pessimist. He'd have to be an optimist in order to promise his son Yoav "some sort of state." Promises to children must be kept.

It's said that television adds five kilos (10 for the newest flat screens ), but only Knesset members seem to look better on the small screen than in person. In their case, the television camera seems to add a certain gravity, and it's only in the virtual world that they become real. It's a pity, though, that no one has developed Audioshop (as opposed to Photoshop ), that would render comprehensible the likes of MKs such as Miri Regev, Anastasia Michaeli, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Yaakov Litzman.

And that's my first reason for supporting Lapid. He looks great, he's articulate and his messages are clear - not only on the tube but in person, too. The second reason is that he, it seems, actually wants to serve in the Knesset. Lapid, we must remember, doesn't stand to profit personally from his term in parliament. Unlike many MKs he already has a job, a few in fact, and is highly successful in all of them. He's rich, and becoming an MK could actually reduce his income. He doesn't need to become a Knesset member or even prime minister to prove to himself that he is loved or to make friends with tycoons. He has plenty of those already.

By my lights, the only possible reason for Lapid to want to be an MK is that he takes the role of the Knesset seriously, so much so that he believes he will have more public influence there than he has now.

Some people say that his rather dilute agenda is a problem. Lapid, they say, is a populist who sticks to what's safe, panders to the lowest common denominator and is borne on the same wave of hatred for the ultra-Orthodox cultivated by his father, Yosef (Tommy ) Lapid. But aren't these rather ambiguous messages preferable to unambiguous messages of racism and backwardness?

The argument that Lapid, as a journalist, must not consider moving into politics, strikes me as utter nonsense. First, journalists have at least a working knowledge of democracy, not to mention the ability to read and write Hebrew and familiarity with math, English and other core curriculum subjects - which is much more than can be said of most MKs. Second, as Lapid once told me himself, he is not only a journalist but also an entertainer, actor, writer and ad man. Does MK Ronit Tirosh want to keep out of the Knesset anyone in any of those professions, too?

But my main reason for supporting Lapid is the fact that the MKs are afraid of him. In the absence of significant new political figures we vote not for those we like but for those we despise slightly less. Lapid, as the great white hope, stands a chance of being voted in because people actually like him. And in any case, I'd really hate to disappoint little Yoav.