Opinion

Racist Outbursts Are Fine, but Watch Your Timing

When asked about Lucy Aharish and Tzachi Halevy's wedding, champion of non-committal politics Yair Lapid spewed out the expected

Lucy Aharish and Tzachi Halevy pose for a photo at their wedding party in Hadera, October 11, 2018.
\ STRINGER/ REUTERS

There’s never been a moment more worthy of the catchphrase “dancing at two weddings at the same time” like the one Sunday afternoon when thousands of subscriber phones were ringing with updates from the News Company, as the following appeared on their screens: “Lapid: The attack on Lucy Aharish is an abomination, but I’m against mixed marriages.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, a champion of non-committal politics, did it again. When asked by Yael Dan on Army Radio what was his opinion of actor Tzachi Halevy’s marriage to journalist Lucy Aharish, the representative of the liberal center spewed out the expected. He congratulated Aharish on her marriage and even criticized those who are criticizing the couple. “What an abomination,” he cried.

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But if for a moment you felt any sense of hope or fear that Lapid might be expressing a true liberal position, that feeling was dispelled rather quickly: “Let’s say that someone isn’t happy about this wedding, you can’t wait a week? Must you speak up on the happiest day for these two people who love each other? Is this the time to insult them? What for? We forget to behave like human beings.”

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, August 16, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

So it’s the timing that bothers Lapid. What a gentleman; he’s willing to accept racist outbursts only after the envelopes have been opened and the checks have been deposited in the bank.

But on the other hand, according to his remarks, Lapid has no problem with the content of MK Oren Hazan’s criticism. (“Lucy Aharish seduced a Jew with the aim of harming our country and preventing more Jewish offspring from continuing the Jewish dynasty.”) Or with those of Interior Minister Arye Dery (“It’s not the right thing. They will have children, who will have difficulties in Israel regarding their status. We mustn’t encourage such things, we must preserve the Jewish people.”) Lapid even added a tortured layer of World War Two flavor of his own to the wedding cake: “I have a problem with mixed marriages, we still haven’t recovered from the Holocaust.”

The stormy public debate about Aharish and Levy’s marriage reflects badly on Israeli society. There’s not a very long distance between such hate groups as Lehava, which aggressively seek to break up mixed couples, and those who feel comfortable criticizing a romantic relationship between two people they don’t know. Those who expressed their disgust with the “assimilation” in living room or kitchen conversations, opinion pieces or radio interviews are the platform that gave rise to the Jewish extremists whose ideology comes more and more to resemble Nazi racist theory. (How about that? The Holocaust provides as an explainer for both sides.)

The outcry against the children of Israel who have deviated by raising families with members of other nations might be appropriate for the shtetl, but for their hypocritical, modern offspring to do so in a country where there is a clear Jewish majority amounts to nothing more than committing an assault against a minority and voicing an unacceptable national supremacism.

After all, what has actually happened? Two people who apparently enjoy each other’s company have chosen to get married, and it’s none of anyone else’s business. Don’t let the bombastic “assimilation” headline lead you astray. The fact that one of the two belongs to the Jewish people doesn’t give other members of the club any veto power. It’s called human rights, Lapid. Write it down, maybe you’ll learn something.