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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
When former Shinui leader Yosef Lapid was asked on Wednesday what mistakes he had made in leading the party from 15 seats to zero in under three years, he responded that his only error in judgment was bringing into the party the MKs who helped depose him.
Rather than blame MKs Ehud Rassabi, Ilan Leibovich and Yigal Yasinov, perhaps Lapid should thank them. Had they not conspired with party activist Ron Lowenthal and MK Yosef Paritzky to overthrow Lapid and his ally Avraham Poraz, Shinui under Lapid's leadership would not have passed the voter threshold and Lapid would have quit in shame on March 28.
Instead, Lapid ended his political career with his pride relatively intact, claiming he fell on his sword to defend Poraz from a gang of political usurpers who he can blame for the party's destruction. His excuse for the party's plunge in support long before the Shinui primary was that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon formed Kadima, which took away votes.
According to Lapid, Rassabi, Lowenthal, Sharon and the haredim were all responsible for his downfall, but not himself.
To refresh Lapid's memory, here is a partial list of the mistakes that he made over the past three years.
He promised secular voters that he would bring about civil marriage and divorce, public transportation on Shabbat and a government without the haredim.
Shinui and National Religious Party MKs were within reach of compromises that could have helped thousands of people who are not able to get married in this country and allowed public transportation in some cities. But then Lapid took Shinui out of the government over a trivial sum of money for haredi schoolchildren and all was lost.
Lapid did succeed in keeping the haredi parties out of the government at first, but then he compromised and agreed to sit with the Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism but not the Sephardi Shas. This made him look like a hypocrite and a racist. There are still haredim in the coalition today, even after Lapid lost his title of opposition leader to Amir Peretz and then Binyamin Netanyahu.
Because he refused to pick his battles properly, Lapid made too many enemies unnecessarily. Calling Meretz faction chair Zehava Gal-On "a whore" did not help his constituents. The Shinui faction became a pariah in the Knesset with no political allies.
One thing that Lapid should have learned from the haredim is how to be consistent. They haven't changed their minds on the issues most important to them for 3000 years.
Lapid said in dozens of interviews that he would oppose the 2005 state budget but ended up supporting it in return for a governmental donation to a few of his party's pet causes, adopting the same political extortion for which he constantly criticized the haredim.
The painful truth for Lapid is that even if Sharon had remained in the Likud and Poraz had been re-elected to the second slot on the party list, Shinui would have gone from the third largest party to the political dustbin.
And the reason is not a combination of other people's offenses but his own broken promises, flip-flops, unnecessary attacks and political failures. The next time Lapid is looking for someone to blame, he should look at the man in the mirror.
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