Sunday, January 22, 2012

Will This Man One Day Be Israel’s Prime Minister?

Two weeks ago, popular news anchorman Yair Lapid announced that he was leaving his Channel Two position in order to prepare for an entry into Israeli politics. Within days, public opinion polls predicted that a new political party headed by Lapid would win between 15 - 20 seats in the Knesset, thereby becoming the country’s second biggest party after the Likud. The political shock waves sent out by Lapid’s announcement may signal the advent of new general elections sooner, rather than later.

The major problem with Lapid’s entering the political fray is that no one knows what he really stands for.

Lapid, 48, the son of former Israeli politician and government minister Tommy Lapid, is undeniably one of Israel’s most handsome media personalities. A journalist, author and playwright, Lapid hosted the Channel Two Friday night newscast for the past four years and writes a weekly column for Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s leading daily newspaper.

Lapid’s decision to enter politics did not come as a surprise, and its timing was probably connected to proposed legislation that would require a “cooling off period” for journalists seeking to enter political life.

Lapid has been communicating to the general public via posts on his Facebook page. In a long note posted on January 13th entitled “Why I’m Going into Politics”, Lapid said, “I am equipped with the power of knowing I am doing something I believe in. You are my community and I draw my strength from you. I promise … to continue to listen to you."

However instead of explaining what he would be fighting for, Lapid has come out swinging in every direction. In an attack on the centrist opposition party, Lapid vowed, “There's no way I'm joining Kadima. They're a bunch of cynical politicians who have been cast out from other parties. No one has any clue as to what, if anything, they believe in and there is no chance I am joining them."

And in an attack on the Labor Party, Lapid said, “Shelly Yachimovitch is a fine Knesset member but she is part of the radical Left, both economically and politically, and I cannot join forces with people with whom I have no ideological connection."

Lapid said that he is “hardly part of the leftist camp” and that he would “join any government that accepts my core principles: changing the governing system, canceling the Tal Law, and changing the distribution of resources for the benefit of the middle class."

We really don’t know too much about what Lapid really stands for. Israelis, unfortunately, have a history of voting for new parties with unclear agendas, and ending up by getting more of the same.  

Let’s hope that Lapid will present a clear political platform suggesting ways to improve the country and that the gullible Israeli public won’t vote for him just because he has a pretty face.

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