Yair Lapid, Israel's New Propaganda Minister

The Yesh Atid leader naively portrays Israel as the eternal victim and all Palestinians as warmongers.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Yair Lapid in Rosh Ha’ayin, February 22, 2015.
Yair Lapid in Rosh Ha’ayin, February 22, 2015.Credit: Nir Keidar
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The pundits are predicting that Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid will be the surprise of this election, the dark horse. So here’s a job for him in the next government, which he will undoubtedly join: minister of propaganda.

Israel needs a propaganda minister, and no one is better suited to the job than Lapid. True, the merchandise is staid and ridiculous, and nobody is seriously buying it. But that’s the way it is with propaganda.

Last Thursday, Lapid tried to sell cheap Israeli propaganda to the readers of British daily The Guardian. It was an insult to their intelligence.

In contrast to the readers – especially the female ones – of his columns in Yedioth Ahronoth, it is unlikely any that Brits will be hanging his “Why no petition to protect Jewish people?” article on their refrigerators.

Lapid is Lapid, though: He faithfully reflects the Israeli average – the brainwashed mood of the majority, the people who shoot and cry, who love themselves to death and pity themselves ad nauseam, who self-victimize and accuse others, innocent of all guilt and certain of their absolute rightness.

This article is for those who do not understand why Lapid will once again attract voters, and for those who do not understand why there is no chance for real change in Israeli society.

It is an updated version of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, reality as center-left Israelis like to picture it for themselves: duplicitous, disconnected, repressed and in denial.

This is the Yair Lapid guide to the warm and fuzzy Israeli consensus. Few Israelis will disagree with the article; few in the world will take it seriously.

Lapid’s Israel is the height of temerity – the occupier that not only presents itself as a victim, but as the only victim. It is hard to believe, but that’s the truth.

Lapid published his article as a fitting Zionist response to the letter by 700 British artists, published in The Guardian on February 13, who called for a cultural boycott of Israel.

Lapid mocks them and their ignorance, what they know and what they understand, and also preaches to them.

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters is a “useful idiot,” as are filmmaker Ken Loach and musician Richard Ashcroft.

The opportunist Lapid preaches to Waters, a man of conscience and morality – do you get that?

Lapid is in favor of a Palestinian state, of course he is – it’s the Palestinians who don’t want it. Hamas hangs homosexuals. In Israel, a woman is president of the Supreme Court; there are Muslims and Christians in the army and the Knesset – what a wonderful country!

As a former finance minister, he preaches about Gaza: Why don’t they build hospitals and schools there, but only arm themselves?

In Israel, as we know, most of the budget goes on health and education. Only the leftovers are spent on security.

But the apex of the article is its playing the victim. After all, what do Lapid and all Israelis want? What do they ask for, these peace seekers? A little quiet, a little security.

But the bad Arabs don’t want it.

What Lapid wants is “for people not to try to kill me just because I’m a Jew. For Jews in Europe to be able to stand safely outside synagogues and do their shopping in a kosher supermarket and for Jews in Israel to be safe from the threat of rockets and mortars.” And the tears fall one after the other. For the Jews.

And what about a little quiet for Palestinians?

What about a little security for the residents of Gaza, who are killed in the thousands? And dignity? Freedom?

Isn’t there enough kitsch, lies and death? No, there’s more. Lapid cites 4-year-old Daniel Tregerman, who was killed by a mortar fired from Gaza last August during the war: “A little young to be a colonial occupier,” Lapid wrote, in his usual ingratiating way.

Lapid has not heard about the blockade and the desperation, the war crimes and the occupation. What does he know about life in the West Bank and death in Gaza? It’s enough for him that the Palestinians were born to kill, and the Jews are their pure and innocent victims.

That’s what most Israelis think. That’s what the “center-left” thinks.

Gideon Levy tweets at @levy_haaretz

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