The day after the election, I was reminded of that TV moment in which the
interviewer, Yair Lapid, asked the interviewee, his father Yosef “Tommy” Lapid,
“What is an ‘Israeli,’ in your eyes?” Dear old Tommy smiled for a second, his
eyes sparkled, and he said: “You.”
He was right. Yair Lapid is what we
want the perfect Israeli to look like.
The good old Israel, liberal,
secular, pragmatic and polite, the Israel of its dreamers and
In its place, there emerged in recent years a completely
different Israel, one that is extremist, inflammatory, violence, racist and
scary to all those around it, including ourselves.
An Israel that grew
wild in the backyard of Binyamin Netanyahu, a leader who heard voices and saw
visions, allowed the hotheads in his party to oust Dan Meridor, Bennie Begin and
Michael Eitan, and lacked the courage or strength to stop it.
brought him Yair. We placed him next to the prime minister at the wheel, to
assist him in driving. The problem is that this new driver is a student driver.
On the other hand, the original driver is a drunk driver. So let them try to
drive together! Ultimately, three simple things happened in this election:
Kadima was torn apart and reconstructed, to the benefit of Yair Lapid.
The Likud and Yisrael Beytenu were torn apart and reconstructed, then merged,
also to the benefit of Yair Lapid.
• The two opposing blocs finished in a
near-dead heat, primarily because of the precise plan by Lapid to scare
Likudniks and offer them a warm and sane home.
All these things were done
by Netanyahu himself, by himself.
After the election, when Netanyahu
followed Lapid’s messages and promised that “we will work together to do great
things,” I asked myself what it was exactly that had prevented Bibi from doing
these “great things” a few months ago, when he was still “King Bibi” and he had
a coalition of 90 MKs, together with Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima.
Why did he not
then, when he had all the power, change the system and order an equal sharing of
the national burden? The answer is simple: Netanyahu will always do the worst
possible thing at the worst possible time. And when he finally reaches a dead
end that forces him to do the right thing, then it’s either too late or it’s at
a price that’s too high.
That’s why he’s doing the right thing now, when
he has been crushed and humbled, dependent on the grace of others.
impossible not to remember another small moment in our political history, when
Ariel Sharon was asked by his people after the crisis with Netanyahu in the
Likud what he would do about Bibi. He replied, “Don’t worry about Bibi, he will
take care of himself.”
“Lapid’s Cellar” is what once was Sharon’s “Farm
Forum” and Ehud Olmert’s “Balfour Forum.” Lapid’s associates gathered there in
the the past year every Tuesday, sometimes on a Friday.
approached the election, the meetings became more frequent, in the cellar of
Lapid’s home in Ramat Aviv.
Those attending included Yesh Atid’s
director-general, Hillel Kobrinsky, producer and Lapid’s friend Danny Vesely,
close friend Ofer Shelah, close confidant Uri Shani and publicist Yoram Bauman.
A quality team, discrete, polite and loyal.
If only Netanyahu would wake
up one morning, get rid of the fans and photographers who surround him, and set
up a similar forum. (Don’t worry, it’ll never happen. His wife won’t let him.)
By the way, Lapid’s wife and partner, Lihi, did not sit in the Lapid’s Cellar
forum. She would wait upstairs. After the meetings, they would all go up, and
sometimes eat something, and sometimes watch a game of soccer (Lapid and Bauman
are big Maccabi Tel Aviv fans.) That’s how it happened.