Yair Lapid Vows to 'Fight the Fight of the Israeli Middle Class'

Vowing not to join any established party, Lapid slams Kadima as 'cynical' and says Labor 'has become the party of the radical left.'

Media personality-turned-politician Yair Lapid put in some serious Facebook time this weekend, attacking "cynical" Kadima members, declaring Labor an extreme leftist party, and admitting he has no intention of joining any established political group.

Last night Lapid promised "to fight the fight of the Israeli middle class with three tools: by changing the system of government; by abrogating the Tal Law [which regulates the conditions for ultra-Orthodox army draft deferrals and exemptions] and replacing it with a state national-service agency; and by waging an uncompromising war against vested interest groups, sector-based parties and tycoons, to change the distribution of resources."

Yair Lapid - Moti Milrod - January 2012
Moti Milrod

On Thursday evening, Lapid held a conference in the upscale, centrally-situated community of Maccabim-Reut. He told his audience he would never join Kadima, adding, "Just look at them." Later, on his Facebook wall, he called the party's Knesset members "a gang of cynical rejects from other parties who don't have a clue about what, if anything, they believe, and there's no way, no scenario in which I would join them."

Also on Facebook, Lapid wrote that the Labor Party "traveled the whole way to the radical left," in terms of both social policy and its policy regarding the Palestinians. At Maccabim-Reut, Lapid attacked Labor chairwoman, MK Shelly Yachimovich, personally, accusing her of being unfair to him. "She knows the truth but insisted on attacking me and claimed that [former Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert was my political consultant."

"Olmert is not my consultant, he was a good friend of my father's [the late journalist and former justice minister and MK Yosef (Tommy ) Lapid], and sat with me at his bedside until the end," Lapid wrote to Internet users later. "I don't forget things like that."

Yachimovich said in response: "Yair Lapid said at a closed conference that he won't join the Labor Party because I'm too radical. First, it's an odd thing to say because no one asked him to join Labor. Second, if social-democracy - a balanced economy of free market on one side and state responsibility and social justice on the other - is too radical, then he should join [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu the capitalist immediately."

MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) responded to Lapid's criticism by calling on him to present his positions and party platform before going after other parties.

"It's not yet clear what Yair Lapid brings to politics and what his political vision is; so far we only know what he isn't," Shai said, adding, "He isn't for either Kadima or Labor. But what is he for? Before he deals with other parties, he should first present his platform and his ideas.

"Meanwhile," Shai continued, "Lapid makes do with writing his weekly newspaper column and doesn't answer the tough questions of the media and the public."

Shai went on to say that Lapid is helping Netanyahu: "In my opinion, his appearance is the best news for Bibi, it opens up the possibility of him getting a third term without having to work hard. [Lapid] is fragmenting the centrist camp and isn't bringing in new votes," Shai said.

Kadima chairwoman MK Tzipi Livni has refrained from attacking Lapid, and continues to present herself as the only leader capable of uniting the anti-Netanyahu forces. "I will continue to consolidate all the forces that seek to unite, and to lead the Israeli majority," she said yesterday on the local version of "Meet the Press," on Channel 2 television.

"I don't read every tweet on Facebook or Twitter," Livni said in reference to Lapid's comments, despite the fact that they led several recent news broadcasts.