Opinion |

Lapid Isn't the Israeli Left's Ideal, but That Doesn't Exist

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid at a Yesh Atid press conference in April.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid at a Yesh Atid press conference in April.Credit: Hadas Parush
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

The purist left’s Standards Institute has received a device for inspection. It isn’t new; it has already seen some use. It isn’t electric, it isn’t dangerous to children; what necessitates the new inspection is merely the packaging. Its brand name is Yair Lapid – the new prime minister.

The institute’s members are familiar with him from the days when he wrote columns in the “popular” press; presented pristine, commercialized television programs; gave empty speeches in cities around the world; landed, to his detriment, in the finance minister’s job; and finally served as foreign minister. And now, in a new package, he is prime minister.

Less than 24 hours after his appointment to the job and even fewer since his first speech, it was already clear that the product is flawed. It’s a dangerous mutation that threatens the country’s serenity.

Lapid didn’t talk about the occupied territories. He didn’t explain his policy toward the settlements or how he would deal with the nation-state law. He isn’t familiar with the Palestinians and is indifferent to their suffering; it’s unlikely that he has met more than a handful of them in his life. Nor does he have great sympathy for Israeli Arabs. Mizrahi Jews apparently don’t interest him, either.

After all, he’s an Ashkenazi elitist, though he lacks a college degree, and he’s full of himself. He’s a rightist dressed up as a centrist. In short, he’s an empty suit.

The above is merely the initial, partial list that members of the left’s purist club have amassed for their filed of evidence against Lapid. And it’s steadily growing thicker.

In their mind’s eye, they have a vision of the ultimate prime minister. Their country must be led by a towering intellectual figure who is also a handsome army commander who will kiss an elderly Arab. A leader built in the mold of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa, but also a bit Machiavellian and with traces of Joseph Stalin, so the public can admire and revere him.

And they’re right. That would be the best possible leader for the Chosen People. It’s just too bad they haven’t managed to produce such a leader to this day.

But there’s still hope. Lapid will be prime minister for only four months. We can confidently predict that by Election Day, November 1, the occupation won’t have ended, the settlements will still be there, the apartheid will have become a bit more entrenched, murders and other crimes in the Arab community will continue as usual and the nation-state law won’t have been amended, much less repealed. Consequently, the purist left will have ample incriminating material with which to persuade people that they shouldn’t vote for Lapid.

But in the meantime, Israel has undergone an unsettling revolution. It no longer has the privilege of sifting through the prime minister’s ideology with a fine-tooth comb. It can’t waste time on ideological debates. It’s anticipating a destructive invasion that threatens to crush its existence as a democratic country.

Wael Ghonim, a leading activist during the Arab Spring in Egypt, was a young, liberal, secular computer engineer. Nevertheless, he announced that in the election following the revolution, he intended to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood.

In response to the angry reactions, he explained, “First we have to worry about democracy, and only afterward about its quality.” Democracy, he added, must be flexible enough to include both the Muslim Brotherhood and the secular left, both religious law and science.

Egypt didn’t achieve that goal; it became a dictatorship. Israel isn’t there yet, but it’s already possible to hear the dictatorship’s dogs barking and smell their putrid breath.

The purist left can keep waiting for its Godot. But meanwhile, it would do better not to interfere with the lowly guards – the ones with no moral spine, who haven’t read Socrates and weren’t educated at Thomas Jefferson’s knee – who are nevertheless guarding the gates of our democracy.

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