Yair Lapid, the celebrity-cum-politician du jour, has generated a sort of nervous excitement within the center-left that Lapid will somehow be the key to returning a center-left coalition to power, as if that coalition is the magical key to conflict transformation.
But Lapid doesn’t seem to offer anything by way of a breakthrough. Haaretz reported earlier this week that in a Facebook exchange, Lapid wrote that “Jerusalem belongs to the people of Israel and not to anyone else.” In an interview in the Jewish Chronicle, Lapid expressed attitudes of a grim, Sharon-esque variety, saying:
I think both big ideologies ruling the Israeli arena were proved wrong in the past decade or so. The Israeli right has realised that we cannot rule three-and-a-half million Palestinians for ever. The left has realised that this daydream of two nations living together… actually, it goes even deeper than that.
They’ve realised that this idea that all men have been created the same and that all they want is peace, love and to be able to support their families, is just bogus.
I waited for him to say: “It’s bogus, because the truth is that all WOMEN and men have been created the same.” Instead, he recites the maddeningly repeated, shallow, and frankly racist Israeli mantra that:
Because people have different needs and wants, and for the Palestinians, their desire to have their own version of nationalism is stronger than peace and love and let’s all hold hands and be friends.
My thinking is that the conclusion of the collapse of these two ideologies, is that it is not for peace we should aspire, but for a solid agreement which would help us separate as efficiently as possible.
When he goes on to advocate a divorce that does not have to be friendly, there is nothing here to distinguish his broad worldview from Kadima under Sharon, or Labor under Barak, except that he would like to accomplish this with an agreement. Well, all Israeli leaders would prefer an agreement, but when their version of separation becomes stronger than peace and love, so to speak, unilateralism follows. If Lapid nixes that, based on the failures of the last decade, he’ll be stuck in the same wishful-but-tragically-impossible-two-state (or entity) fantasy that has brought us to the current standstill-which-is-not-a-standstill but a dive-bomb.
With caveats that he has yet to release those detailed plans he has promised, it’s hard to imagine how Lapid’s attitude leads to a fresh approach to the conflict, as my colleague Noam observed. Lapid enthusiastically, almost obsessively, cultivates the theme of his Israeliness: on his Facebook site, in response to questions about how to define his politics, he explains (my translation):
The answer is that I’m an Israeli patriot, a Jew and a Zionist, and all my other positions flow from those three.
Whatever one thinks of that, the Great Israeli Paradigm has not yielded any peace deals lately. Noam noted that it’s ironic how this “privileged son of the Israeli elite” managed to benefit politically from the summer’s social protests. I wonder if it will turn out to be ironic that the man currently viewed as a revival for the center-left ends up as another center-left failure for peace. I would be thrilled to be proven wrong.