Anybody but Yair Lapid

Anybody who wants this election to stand for change and correction must recognize that a vote for Yair Lapid is a vote to ensure another term for Benjamin Netanyahu.

Avirama Golan
Avirama Golan
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Yair Lapid campaigning in Be'er Sheva, February 15, 2015.
Yair Lapid campaigning in Be'er Sheva, February 15, 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Avirama Golan
Avirama Golan

Okay, we get it – Anybody But Bibi.

Even the right-wingers get it by now, and if they’d been late to that epiphany, along came Benjamin Netanyahu’s meltdown and made it clear.

The prime minister managed to annoy, humiliate and embarrass the Likud’s most entrenched supporters, from labor unionists to the residents of the peripheries to oldsters pining for the days of Menahem Begin.

Our Bibi-sitter has lost his dark charm. Behind the Botox, the dyed hair and the pancake makeup, his sweat is showing.

Then there’s Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu, for those who want to vote Likud but just can’t bring themselves to.

We could have done without another one-trick-pony party, but since it’s here, there’s no question that Kulanu is a worthy alternative for right-leaning voters who can no longer stand the brutality, extremism and crudeness of the party in power, headed by a detached, megalomaniacal inciter.

Moreover, in contrast to what the media call unknowns, Kahlon chose clever, talented people with a record of achievement for his party. Most of them know Israeli society well and can serve it well. That cannot be said of most of the Likud firebrands.

Left-wing deep think

That’s the right wing. One can hope that the left has been doing some deep thinking, too. For instance, it might consider that without Meretz, Isaac Herzog does not stand a chance of establishing a sensible government, if any at all, and that Meretz’s disappearance would mean the left bloc is down four to five seats.

One may also hope that since the top four names on the Hadash list really are a dream team — for anybody aspiring to a welfare state, organized labor, full equality between Jews and Arabs, the belief that Israel cannot exist without a political compromise, a halt to the occupation — its place in Knesset is secure. That’s another reason to vote for Meretz.

But the real problem the center-left bloc faces is, again, the proportion of people voting for Yesh Atid.

Most followers of this amorphous party are (again?) mesmerized by the dizzying rhetorical powers of the party’s TV-star leader, Yair Lapid, who caused nothing but damage during his short stint in politics.

Now he’s back in his comfort zone – words. We accomplished, we were tripped up, we couldn’t finish, everybody is corrupt except us.

Politics and damage

But we must not ignore the damage Lapid has done, in two ways.

First and foremost is his alliance with Naftali Bennett, which gave the extremist settler right the kind of power, budgets and right to rule that it never had before.

Second is the humiliating, false double-time march to which Lapid subjected the Haredim, who had begun to integrate into the workforce and society but who became more alienated and suspicious than before.

The arithmetic is simple. The stronger Lapid becomes, the greater the chance Herzog will need Yesh Atid in the coalition, which means that the Haredim and Shas won’t join it, which in turn means that Herzog can’t build a government.

And the stronger Lapid becomes, the more demanding and arrogant he (again) will become, the more he will collide with Kahlon, and the more he will trip up the left, leading to the establishment of a fourth Netanyahu government.

This election isn’t going to solve isn’t going to solve Israel’s crises, but it can portend the beginning, albeit hesitant, of correction.

Anybody who wants that correction must take into account that a vote for Lapid isn’t a vote for the center. It is, in net terms, a vote for the right.

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