A Future Forever Pure

The authoritarianism of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, including its anti-Arab sentiment, must not be ignored

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Yair Lapid at a meeting with Knesset members from his Yesh Atid party, October 15, 2018.
Yair Lapid at a meeting with Knesset members from his Yesh Atid party, October 15, 2018.Credit: Emil Salman
Haaretz Editorial

We must not ignore the latest declaration by Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, whose name means “there is a future.” “I have a problem with mixed marriages,” he admitted in reaction to a rude comment by Likud MK Oren Hazan on the marriage of Israeli Arab news anchor Lucy Aharish to actor Tzachi Halevy. Lapid thus ignored the historically reverberating meaning of the word “mixed,” which hints at a type of contamination.

That isn’t a proper form of expression for the head of a party that says it embraces a liberal Zionist ideology that “believes in the right of any person and community to shape their way of life in freedom and tolerance,” as its platform says.

Everyone can recall Lapid’s shameful remarks in the 2013 election campaign. The Yesh Atid leader said he wouldn’t join up “with the Zoabis” in the Knesset; he was referring to Arab MK Haneen Zoabi. Now it’s clear that he doesn’t only object to a government with Arab members, but also to any marriage with “Zoabis.”

Lapid’s remarks reflect a worldview similar to that of the ultra-Orthodox missionary group Yad Le’achim and of the Lehava organization of Bentzi Gopstein, a far-right student of Rabbi Meir Kahane. These despicable organizations fight against assimilation, enforcing religious commands. In the name of what values and authority does Lapid oppose mixed marriages?

Don’t be confused by his demographic explanations, or be forgiving of his clumsy attempts to provide a “scientific” explanation for “his problem with mixed marriages.”

“We haven’t recovered from the Holocaust yet,” he said, as if he were the genetic engineer of the Jewish people. “At the moment there are fewer Jews than before the Holocaust, and we’re trying to grow.”

In whose name does Lapid speak? And what does he believe that “we” must do as part of the attempts to “grow”?

His outrageous words paint Yesh Atid in problematic colors and must be rejected by the rest of this party. Yesh Atid’s authoritarianism can’t be used once again as an excuse by Ofer Shelah, Yael German and other Yesh Atid MKs to remain silent.

Someone must remind him that the Israeli government and its leader in particular work for all the country’s citizens – Jews, Muslims and Christians as one – and for them alone. Does Yesh Atid want a society that preserves the purity of blood and matrimony?

The question of whom to marry is a personal choice and not the business of politicians. A country isn’t supposed to tell its citizens whom they may or may not marry. Lapid’s comments express deep confusion about his role as a public official and cast doubt on his qualifications for the lofty job he aspires to. They also raise concerns about the kind of future his party promises to seek.

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