This past Monday, while standing at the Knesset podium, preparing to deliver his comments about the upcoming budget cuts, Finance Minister Yair Lapid instead tore the haredi MKs to pieces. Verbally, of course. He didn’t plan to do it. But he didn’t need to. These ideas have been waiting patiently in his mind for years now.

There, at the podium, he took hold of the microphone, and watched the haredi MKs screaming and running around the plenum hall. But they have no chance against Lapid. Moshe Gafni, Ya’acov Litzman and Arye Deri are all incredibly frightened by this phenomenon known as Yair Lapid.

After Lapid stepped down from the podium, Moshe Gafni approached him. They whispered together in the little foyer for a few minutes. That’s it! Gafni told Lapid.

This was the last time. We will never give you the pleasure again of holding a direct debate with you. But we can talk about your unilateral decisions. Or the promises you made but didn’t keep. We will no longer allow ourselves to be drawn into this kind of match.

Lapid just smiled. The smile of a satisfied cat. You’re right, Lapid told Gafni. I understand that I will not be able to have a straight conversation with you. It would be like talking to a brick wall. But I won’t have any trouble attracting your friends’ attention within seconds. Trust me.

If Lapid’s operational ability is even 10 percent of his verbal ability, then he is set.

And so are we. Lapid put on an unforgettable show this week, a double whammy.

In his appearance at the Knesset, he beat the haredim to a pulp.

Lapid is the master presenter. His secret is his perfect ability to put into words exactly what we’re all thinking. He is capable of deciphering what we are feeling and then bundling it with charm and charisma. But with all due respect, he will also need to put his money where his mouth is. That’s where Lapid’s success is going to be measured. In the end, we will all look at our own personal financial situation in three years’ time and check if it has improved. That’s what will determine Lapid’s fate.

Will Lapid be the next prime minister (and possibly appoint Binyamin Netanyahu as finance minister)? Or maybe he’ll chair the next Finance Committee in the next Knesset, since he’ll have experience as a finance minister.

In the meantime, Lapid can give himself a high grade. Maybe even very high. He is recommending harsh cuts, but Ricki Cohen, his proverbial middle class Israeli, can’t wipe the smile off her face. She’s still fascinated by what’s happening to her.

But let’s get back to Gafni. Tell me, I said when I spoke with him this week, why are you so angry that you were left out of the government coalition? Can’t you understand that it’s possible to run a country without haredim in the government? By the way, I told him, we still fail to understand why you haven’t done your share in protecting our country and participating in our economy for the past 65 years.

It’s a fact – you haven’t. So you can be left out of the government every once in a while, no? But Gafni was not confused. He is not the type who gets confused. Don’t make me laugh, he said. I’m from the United Torah Judaism party, and we are used to being left out. It’s legitimate to be left out. I’ve no problem with that.

But it becomes illegitimate when we are left out because of who we are. When we are disqualified because we are haredi.

Then it’s no longer legitimate. It’s even dangerous. Listen, we’re a minority, but a large minority. This business could lead to very bad places. I’m quite worried.

Gafni’s hurting. Badly. His heart and his head. He knows all too well that the haredim are in deep trouble. They got rid of Tommy Lapid, but ended up with an upgraded third-generation version of Tommy – with lots of cool new features.

Lapid’s trying, Gafni tells me, not to be like his father in any way, to differentiate himself, to prove that he doesn’t hate haredim. The opposite in fact – he says he loves haredim! But this past Monday, at the Knesset, the Tommy in him slipped out.

So now you truly know how the Israeli public feels about you, I told Gafni.

The next few years in the opposition are going to be tough for Gafni. And he knows it. The enemy he is up against is smart, articulate and has the public’s full support.

The haredi community’s main source of nourishment will soon dry up and then disappear altogether.

It’s not going to be a boring year.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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