4 Jul 2022

Who Is Yair Lapid?

Well, it’s not your parents’ world anymore.

In terms of Israel, after decades of leadership in the form of Ben Gurion, Rabin, Begin, Sharon, and Netanyahu, Israel is on the cusp of the reign of…Yair Lapid.

A little over a year ago, in the middle of the election-a-month ridiculousness, Lapid was given a mandate by the president to form a government. He knew he did not have a chance at a coalition and that such a move would ensure another election. So he did something highly unusual: he put his own prime minister aspirations on hold in order to form a government with then-right winger Naftali Bennett.

Bennett, the one-time protégé of Bibi Netanyahu, as it turns out, was just as nakedly ambitious as any garden-variety politician. At the outset, he sounded great.

In a shocking display of…outright lying…Naftali Bennett last year, in the midst of yet another election, made a simple pledge: he’d never allow Lapid to be prime minister, nor would he sit in a government with him:

“’Netanyahu is spending millions of shekels on spin, saying that I’m going to crown Lapid prime minister,’ he told Boaz Golan of the right-wing Channel 20 (that has since become Channel 14). ‘So, first of all, I’m informing the public in the simplest way… never and under no condition will I aid in the establishment of a government headed by Lapid – not a conventional one, not through a rotation and in no other way, for the simple reason that I am on the Right and he is on the Left, and I do not act against my values.’

“To prove that he wasn’t merely pandering to his base, and in a challenge to Netanyahu, he whipped out a pre-prepared affidavit. Holding it up for the camera to zoom in on, he read aloud, ‘I will not enable Yair Lapid to become prime minister, not even in a rotation, and you [Netanyahu] have to commit not to establish a government with the votes of Mansour Abbas and the Islamic Movement.’”

Bennett reneged on each pledge above! These weren’t minor issues; this was a seemingly right-wing “extremist” stating the obvious: he wouldn’t work with a left-wing government. Or even a centrist one. Then Bennett blithely went back on his word.

Now, we can point the same finger at Netanyahu. He broke many pledges over his 15 years as prime minister. Most recently, he made a lot of noise about annexing the West Bank. He then tapped the brakes (evidently with pressure from the Trump administration) when the Abraham Accords were being negotiated. It is quite interesting that in exchange for a monumental model of cooperation with neighboring Arab states, Israel would be required to keep her biblical heartland.

Back to Lapid.

Ten years ago, he started the Yesh Atid (“There is a Future”) Party and has skillfully navigated through elections and an uncertain electorate.

And today, July 1, he became the 14th prime minister of Israel. A center-left guy, I don’t have great confidence that Lapid will be tough with the Americans. On the other hand, maybe he will be! Remember, the Biden administration—I believe illegitimate—is vicious in its anti-Israel stance.

But here is an interesting tidbit I learned this week about Yair Lapid. At a graduation ceremony at Ariel University, right in the heart of Judea/Samaria. Lapid’s son was graduating! I visited Ariel years ago and met then-mayor Ron Nachman, a real Zionist. So, Lapid might not be an Ariel Sharon-type, or definitely Menachem Begin. But he obviously values living in the land of his ancestors.  Born in 1963 in Tel Aviv, his father, Tommy Lapid, a more liberal guy that did not have warm feelings for the Orthodox. Yet having been born in Yugoslavia, Lapid saw his father taken by the Nazis; he was later murdered in a concentration camp.

So the Lapids knew and understood the evil that opposed them and their people.

I don’t write-off Yair Lapid so easily.

May the Lord give him wisdom.