Opinion |

Azaria Leads, Lapid Follows

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Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, February 2017.
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, February 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Yair Lapid is in favor of pardoning Israeli soldier Sgt. Elor Azaria. “I hope so, on the personal level, as a citizen,” the chairman of Yesh Atid said in a television interview on Channel 2.

Lapid was being disingenuous. He knows that as the leading prime ministerial candidate, according to recent polls, he has no “personal level” when it comes to public issues, and cannot speak “as a citizen,” particularly when he is appearing on prime time.

Lapid publicly supports pardoning Azaria. And Azaria – who shot and killed an immobilized Palestinian assailant in Hebron last March, thus violating the Israeli army’s vaunted “purity of arms” – has every right to interpret this as Lapid’s post-factum consent to Azaria’s act of manslaughter.

When Lapid serves as prime minister, soldiers are permitted to understand that their premier will retroactively sanction the execution of enemies who do not pose a threat and are supine and helpless.

They are allowed to infer that he will be willing to turn a blind eye to breaches of the principle of “purity of arms,” and to empower them – even encourage them – to turn their weapons on enemies who are already immobilized.

They are permitted to understand, too, that he will encourage them to lie under questioning – and in the courtroom in the event that they are prosecuted.

The spirit emanating from Lapid – l’esprit du commandant – is that of a vague command to put a bullet into the heads of assailants as they lie helpless on the ground, and to lie about it in the judicial inquiry afterward.

This is what soldiers, members of the executive branch, are permitted to infer from the fact that “on the personal level” Lapid is in favor of pardoning Azaria. That is the moral code of Lapid, the leading candidate for prime minister of Israel.

Naive leftists err when they are tempted into believing that Lapid’s support for separation from the Palestinians is the same as support for a two-state solution.

Lapid aspires “to remove them from our lives, not continuing to live with them forever and ever.” Despite being asked a few times if he is for the establishment of a Palestinian state, Lapid is careful not to answer in the affirmative.

There are a number of ways “to remove them from our lives.” We have not heard him reject any of them. And from the Azaria case, it is already obvious that Lapid goes along with the active types, those who take the initiative in the field. He has no moral compunctions. For him, the bullet Azaria fired into the head of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was also an acceptable method “to remove them from our lives.”

It is true that Lapid also noted that he seeks “an agreement that is based on Israel’s security needs.” And if no agreement is reached? How will the Palestinians be removed from our lives? How will he guarantee that we will not live with them forever and ever? For example, will he give retroactive approval for acts of expulsion? And in retroactively approving the killing of one helpless assailant, will he agree retroactively to killing helpless Palestinians? For instance, the slaughter of Palestinians who are suspected of intending to carry out hostile or terrorist acts?

Lapid will follow where the Azarias lead him. Azaria will lead.

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