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Yair Lapid

  • The biggest myth about Israeli politics

    It’s tempting to believe that non-politicians are the antidote to bad politicians, but it's also wrong. In 2011, the Israeli pop singer Roni Superstar released a song called “Adoni” — literally “my lord,” or colloquially, “sir.” For sarcastic overtones, “His highness” will also do. Here is my free translation: “His Highness will tell me what he knows/ His Highness will make sense of what I ought to think… His Highness wishes to be Prime Minister… His Highness thinks he is so smart…” The otherwise banal song kept surfacing in my mind during the last election cycle. Something about it seemed apposite.…

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  • To unseat Netanyahu, his challengers risk becoming just like him

    As party lists are finalized in the lead-up to Israeli elections, the big bangs offer little substantive changes. And the challengers of the center look uncannily like the current leadership. A visual expression of the Israeli election campaign would look a lot like a Jackson Pollock painting. All of the parties running were required to finalize their lists on Thursday, and declare whether they would merge, split or stay single-by-choice. For 24 hours before the deadline, the parties darted around in a strategic frenzy accompanied by the relentless whine of 1,000 blooming rumors. The latest changes should be seen in…

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  • Do Israelis vote for political ideology or cult of personality?

    Although Israelis have historically voted for strong political frontmen, it seems that dazzling personalities are no longer sufficient to winning elections. It turns out that voters are looking at the values, worldview, and policies. Last October, Lior Shlein, Israel’s top satirist, made a convincing case that Yair Lapid is a cult leader. Lapid was a TV celeb who entered politics in 2013 trading on his teeny-bop looks and name recognition. He had no discernible ideology other than a vague promise to represent the mostly middle classes behind the social protest of 2011. Yet despite his own tony demographic, his Yesh Atid party…

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  • The future is the center: Meet the parties shaking up Israeli politics

    Caught between growing extremism on the right and a battered left, Israelis are flocking to a new crop of centrist politicians who prioritize economic issues over solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Galia Ben Haim discussed her political opinions while driving back from jail. In addition to her day job, she volunteers at a women’s prison.  The inmates, she says, committed their crimes after Israel’s social institutions failed them. In the last two elections the 48-year-old mother of four says she voted for Yesh Atid, the centrist party founded by TV icon Yair Lapid in 2013. She is considering supporting them a third time when Israel holds…

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  • Ahmad Tibi has a plan to unseat Netanyahu, but it means leaving his Palestinian partners

    Ahmad Tibi's recent announcement that he would split from the Joint List has rattled Palestinian citizens. In an interview, he speaks about the successes and failures of the list, why his party would be better off alone, and why he may join forces with Israel's centrist leaders. By Meron Rapoport Four years after it was established, the Joint List, which succeeded in uniting Israel’s Palestinian parties, is on its way toward dissolution. Dr. Ahmad Tibi, who heads the Arab Movement for Renewal faction, also known as Ta’al, made a surprising announcement last week, declaring he would run independently in the upcoming elections, set for April 9. The reason stems from Tibi’s…

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  • Out of Iran deal, into war? Either way, Netanyahu's popularity soars

    Netanyahu appears to have inoculated himself against looming corruption charges due to the dramatic developments on the security front. As war with Iran looms, why does the old formula work so well?  On Wednesday night, the day after Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran deal, in between Israeli airstrikes in Syria, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported the Likud’s highest polling numbers in a decade — 35 seats, five more than it holds today. [tmwinpost] Is it really that simple? Netanyahu, 12 years in office, facing multiple corruption investigations and a possible indictment, just pulls out the magic security card…

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  • Elections: Good for Netanyahu, bad for Israel

    A coalition crisis could mean elections in a matter of months. If Netanyahu wins, even a post-election indictment will not stop the slide into a darker future for Israel. He wants them, he wants them not, he wants them, he wants them not. Over the last two weeks, the sport of Netanyahu psychoanalysis in the Israeli press over the possibility of snap elections has taken on a feverish tone. [tmwinpost] He doesn’t want them because he loves holding onto power. Because he wants to prove that of all Israeli leaders he alone is capable of sitting out a term and…

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  • Legal bullying in the service of the prime minister

    The Knesset is fast-tracking legislation to hobble and hide corruption investigations against Netanyahu. The bill would further erode Israeli democracy, training citizens to accept that they do not have the right to know the facts about their leaders. The Knesset raced toward adopting a law this week intended to constrain Israeli police from making recommendations about indictments based on its investigations, and to keep the findings of those investigations from the public. The law would apply retroactively to the current investigations involving the Prime Minister. [tmwinpost] The bill represents another blow to democratic practice in Israel, along with laws in recent…

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  • Forget Al Jazeera — Bibi should halt his own government's incitement

    Netanyahu is calling to shut down Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau, accusing the station of incitement to violence amid tensions over the Temple Mount. Has he heard what his own ministers have been saying recently? Palestinian incitement has long been Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scapegoat for the lack of progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For him, Palestinian calls to violence — not the settlement enterprise or 50 years of military dictatorship — is what prevents peace. Netanyahu regularly uses this rhetorical tactic to undermine an already impotent Palestinian Authority whenever it is politically convenient. In recent years, the prime minister has also used claims of incitement…

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  • Explained: What’s the story with Netanyahu and the media?

    The editor of Israeli media watchdog The Seventh Eye, Shuki Tausig, explains the current scandals involving Netanyahu and the media, and what they mean for journalism and democracy in Israel. The Israeli media is often lauded by outsiders as fierce and independent, often in order to demonstrate the ostensible strength of the country’s democracy. But a number of public scandals and political dramas over the past few months have exposed a far less flattering picture. [tmwinpost] Most of the story includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in one way or another. The latest political showdown saw Netanyahu trying to shut down…

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  • 'The occupation will collapse. And then we'll build a moral society here'

    On Saturday night, thousands of Palestinians and Jews gathered in Jerusalem for an anti-occupation protest marking 50 years since the occupation began. Breaking the Silence head Yuli Novak spoke to demonstrators about the importance of solidarity and resistance to the violence and racism of the Israeli government. Below is a transcript of the speech, translated from Hebrew. By Yuli Novak These are dark, somber days. Our country is dominated by occupation, messianism, racism, ignorance, callousness, and violence. Blaming the right-wing government won't help. Nor will sitting in our living rooms fantasizing about the day they'll be replaced. And please, enough with the…

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  • Turning Gaza's humanitarian disaster into Israel's bargaining chip

    If Defense Minister Liberman, along the entire political and military echelon, know the extent to which Gaza's residents are suffering, why do they insist on using that suffering as a bargaining chip? By Rachel Beitarie Something strange happened in the middle of last week: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman decided to give an interview to the Palestinian daily, Al-Quds, in which he spoke about the solutions to the challenges facing the Gaza Strip. In short, he proposed rehabilitating the Strip, which would include the building of a port, an airport, and industrial zones. All this in exchange for full demilitarization. [tmwinpost] "If Hamas…

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  • What would we say about the Hebron shooter were he Ashkenazi?

    The story of the Hebron shooting is a classic case of the lowly soldier syndrome — mostly Ashkenazi political leaders give the order, yet only those at the bottom of the ladder must pay the price.  By Adi Mazor and Tom Mehager What is the difference between the Israeli soldier who shot 22-year-old Palestinian Abed al-Fatah Sharif in Hebron last week after a stabbing attack, and the soldiers from elite unites who shoot and kill Palestinian suspects? The difference is that the elite soldiers do behind the scenes — when no one is there to capture it on camera. [tmwinpost] Since the…

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