The Boy Scout Leader

Talented Yair Lapid, a Midas who was able to turn everything he touched into gold, our national darling, our imaginary common denominator, has been endowed with a multitude of positive qualities, except for one: courage.


Yair Lapid
David Bachar

Let's start with the good news. Television personality Yair Lapid is (apparently ) entering politics. Now for the bad news. He's not the man we were looking for. Our imagination was sparked by the chance that finally a new face would enter politics who is loved, smooth-talking, unifying and charming, and who would do away with the shallowness of the Netanyahu-Barak-Livni group for good. But these hopes have been immediately dashed. In one fell swoop hope will vanish as if it never existed.

Run Yair run. Why not? But you're not the man. Someone who has built a decades-long journalistic career looking for everyone's love and who is careful not to offend anyone can never herald change and confront opposition. Talented Yair Lapid, a Midas who was able to turn everything he touched into gold, our national darling, our imaginary common denominator, has been endowed with a multitude of positive qualities, except for one: courage.

Unfortunately, that's the most essential quality that our future leadership needs. Anyone who lacks it had better stay on as an evening news anchor and at a mass-circulation daily, broadcasting the news and writing about "my spouse, may she live and be well" and especially "my son, Yoav" whose progress an entire nation eagerly follows with wonder. Yair Lapid had better do sing-alongs on a table at Tel Aviv's Genki Club with Einat Sarouf, do advertisements for Bank Hapoalim, enjoy the world of high ratings and the good things in life and let the dry world of politics continue free of illusions.

At an event in Herzliya, he shared his thoughts (secretly recorded! ) on politics. They unleashed a storm, but proved that there was nothing to them and won't be in the future. A leader (perhaps ) was born, a "responsible adult" in his own view, but his position is like a boy scout troop commander - admired and loved, but it's just the scouts.

It's as if his speech had been delivered at a scout gathering amid the catchy slogans from the scouts' hymn pasted on the walls: "Do the right thing. Always the right thing." And as the scouts' pledge says, "I will do everything I can, for my people, my country, my homeland." Not that I have anything against the scouts. On the contrary, my own son (who's not Yoav ) spent some of the best years of his life in the movement and contributed to society and himself. But what is this commendable youth movement compared to the challenges facing the country?

Lapid took refuge, as is his habit, in the safest and most hollow corners of Israeli politics. Nothing is more deceptive than talk about a constitution and changing the electoral system. Nothing avoids the important issues like talk of drafting yeshiva students and a core curriculum. Nothing evokes tears and vacuousness like talking about our children, about how "I promised my son Yoav a certain kind of country."

He promised Yoav a country, which is nice, but what about us? What about our turn? And what does it mean to "promise a country"? Controversial subjects were of course only raised as questions. Can we return the Golan Heights? Can we shift a quarter of the defense budget to education? And of course, not a word about the occupation. But let's not deal here with trifling matters. You see, the country's future according to our counselor, Lapid, depends on three things: a constitution, a core (curriculum ) and a system (electoral, that is ). But all these are marginal issues that so typify people from the imaginary political "center."

There is no truth in this center. It's just the right and left all dressed up. It's just a name brand for anyone who doesn't want to get people angry. That's what Lapid is like. Neither left nor right; neither religious nor really anti-religious. (He takes part in all-night Shavuot study sessions and wrote a book about the Bible ). He's neither a feminist nor an anti-feminist. (He calls her "my spouse." She calls him "the strong one." ) He is neither a declared capitalist nor a socialist. He's isn't anything, really.

One evening Lapid, along with Roni Daniel, is brainwashing his television audience over the brave, justified act of snatching the Gaza-bound flotilla. Another evening he's telling an audience in Herzliya that when he thinks about the flotilla (and about the Second Lebanon War of his friend Ehud Olmert ), he concludes that "maybe they don't know how to wage war." It's a case of Dr. Yair and Mr. Lapid. He needed a teleprompter on both evenings.

Now imagine the following headlines: "Lapid evacuates settlements." ""Lapid takes on the multimillionaires." "Lapid takes on the defense establishment." He himself would break up laughing to read these things. Imagine Lapid saying something courageous that would get anyone angry. Imagine it.