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Celebrity-cum-politician Yair Lapid poised to prolong Mideast conflict

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.

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      Lapid may be wrong, but how is he racist? What race are the “Palestinians”? The term “racism” has become completely meaningless and it only denotes the failure to tow the politically correct party line. And no, it’s not about nationalism for the Arabs. Arabs Muslims have subjected many cultures in the Middle East to cruel oppression. This has been going on for over 1400 years. Their war against the Jews of the Holy Land is but the latest manifestation of this ongoing process.

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    2. Aaron

      You compared him to Sharon and Barak, but it’s also Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s. What Lapid is forgetting is that his plan, an agreement to help us separate as efficiently as possible, is exactly one of the two ideologies that collapsed in the 1990s. Very few saw the Oslo process in terms of Peres’ “New Middle East.” Almost everyone saw it in terms of Rabin’s “them over there, us over here.”
      This all sounds kind of like another Pnina Rosenblum thing. Some non-ideological celebrity decides to come into the Knesset and solve Israel’s problems using good old common sense. As I recall, Rosenblum’s plan was to take all the smartest politicians, professors, etc., put them together in a room, and keep them there until they came up with a solution.

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    3. fellow graduate

      why, why is it so so so hard for you to acknowledge the very simply empirical fact that there simply exists no Israeli jewish constituency that supports a viable two state solution? we were assigned the following piece which i suggest that you’ll read it even if it is depressing. if you are unable to identify the problem correctly then all that follows is likely to fail.


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    4. Jalal

      Personally, I fear the likes of Lapid more than I fear Netanyahu. Netanyahu doesn’t talk peace. Lapid would talk piece but act on something else as he does it. this “something else” is what I fear.

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    5. Yair Lapid is the supreme panderer to mainstream Israel, the perfect lowest common denominator candidate.

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    6. Jazzy

      Lapid’s superficiality notwithstanding, his quotes here seem basically right to me. The ‘racism’ stuff is getting pretty tiresome; obviously he’s generalizing, but Brown/Berkeley/Hampshire College stick-up-the-ass human rights paradigm is not really that helpful in understanding what motivates MOST people in this conflict, on both sides. Though I understand why Dahlia might not prefer Lapid as a chief executive, I am struggling to imagine what she would have preferred to hear Lapid say, at the same level of generality.

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