Little more than a year ago, Yair Lapid was the great white hope of Israeli politics.

The buzz around him, especially among the young and upwardly mobile, was unprecedented. The self-styled savior of the secular middle class, he would slay the twin dragons of inequitable wealth distribution and soaring housing costs, get Haredim to join the army and the work force, and tip the balance in favor of peacemaking with the Palestinians, keeping Israel both Jewish and democratic.

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