If they put a gun to my head and force me to choose between Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid, my answer will be instant and unequivocal - Netanyahu is better. It is hard to find something more repulsive on the emerging political map than Lapid.
Lapid the statesman is Lapid from television - made up entirely of similes, gimmicks and bullshit. The black T-shirt has been replaced by a suit - to convey decency and seriousness. The fake sheepish smile that melted the jeep women from Ramat Hasharon and similar suburbs has been replaced by the serious gaze. The hair gel has disappeared, but everything else remains as it was, totally hollow.
On Tuesday he "exposed" his "platform" regarding the Arabs and the rest of the world - a nothing-platform of a Channel 2 news anchor. Statemanlike and Zionist, he made his crown speech at the Ariel University Center. He could not have found a more fitting place to make his "Ariel speech." Even Netanyahu made do with Bar Ilan University. And what was the main point? "Without a peace process we won't be in the government; Jerusalem will be united forever." Netanyahu would have phrased it better.
A man of peace was born, the Israeli Nelson Mandela, one who will stand on his principles like a lion and join the radical rightist government only if it conducts negotiations. Just great, Yair. Again the negotiations as a condition? Again negotiations as a goal? Isn't it mouldy already? How about a new, less worn-out idea? And what will he say in the negotiations, Jerusalem will be united forever? A few days ago he said the Arabs will have to accept it. He will tame them. And if they won't? Then they won't.
Like a time machine, Lapid's platform takes us back 30-40 years. This is the next, fresh, promising thing in Israeli politics. For this he came to politics, to herald a change. Netanyahu at least isn't that deceptive. Lapid was mum about Avigdor Lieberman being in the government; all he had to do was utter the word "negotiations" and you can count him in. One photo-op with Mahmoud Abbas and we have a new education minister.
Naturally, he is neither left nor right. The right comes with a rifle in its hand, the left holding an olive branch. Neither is good enough for the emerging political intellectual. What will he come with, his jeep? What's wrong with an olive branch? After all, we've already used the rifle to excess. But no, the left always concedes in advance, he says, this is no way to conduct negotiations. The Palestinians are only demanding more and more. The haggler from Ramat Aviv Gimmel would do it differently. He won't announce in advance what he will give up, thus getting us the deal of the century, peace at half price. An arrangement brought about by a cunning ploy, as though the price hasn't been posted up there for dozens of years. There are no reductions and no special bargains.
Lapid knows this, but why not keep using past cliches that have proved themselves so well for two generations? Anyway, what is this "conceding?" When will Lapid and the likes of him finally learn this is not a matter of conceding, but of doing justice? Ending the occupation is not an Israeli concession, it's an Israeli duty. But talk to the wall. Talk to Lapid.
It is alarmingly depressing to think this is what a new politician in Israel looks like. Eliraz Sadeh (of "Survivor" ) for adults. Lapid looks like Israel 2012 and sounds like Yisrael Galilee 1970. What has he said that we haven't already heard? What has he said that Netanyahu isn't saying? At least in English Netanyahu sounds better.
Equipped with a pet rabbi and pet Shin Bet chief - the hell with all Jacob Perry's antics - Lapid will put his list together himself. He will be a one-man appointments committee, which makes Shas' Council of Torah Sages something to aspire to and puts Netanyahu in a democratic luster.
The public forgives him that as well. Lapid is thriving in the public opinion polls. Here's a question for the pollsters - why would a single Israeli, apart from his family members, vote for him?
There is a popular children's show that stars a talking cactus named Kishkashta - the Israeli equivalent of Big Bird.
What would Yair Lapid bring that we don't already have, except his proven sweetness? The (sad ) answer is known in advance: Israel wants Kishkashta.