Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
At first, yesterday’s 7 p.m. edition of “Good Evening with Guy Pines”
seemed quite mundane. While the show’s title evokes images of Amsterdam’s
red-light district it is in fact Israel’s most popular entertainment magazine,
offering its audience an insider look at the local glitterati. It begun, as
always, with the story of a former movie star turned stalker and alleged sex
offender. This was followed by snapshots of Israeli models standing under
waterfalls in provocative bikinis alongside images of pop superstar Beyonce
Knowles being rushed into labor.
Escapism at its finest.
best was yet to come, for the last segment of the show proved to be the
cliffhanger. Pines dramatically reported that TV personality and journalist Yair
Lapid had, finally, decided to resign his post as anchor of Channel 2’s Friday
night news edition and enter politics. While the journalist has supposedly been
flirting with the idea for some time he has now decided to cross the Rubicon.
Mr. Pines was right to call this the longest foreplay in history.
first, it was odd to learn of Lapid’s decision from an entertainment
magazine. What does Yair have to do with Beyonce? Is he godfather to her
new baby? Is he the actual father? Or perhaps the pop diva is thinking of being
Lapid’s running mate in the next elections? Lapid and Beyonce 2012: taking your
booty one step closer to the Promised Land.
This seemed a bit
BUT AS I watched the images of Lapid arriving at his home
things started to make sense. Lapid was not greeted by reporters or political
commentators. As is mostly the case with the pop diva, it was the
paparazzi that waited on his front lawn. This is not due to a lack of interest
in Lapid’s political aspirations but rather because he is a celebrity. One who
has appeared in numerous television shows, movies and TV commercials. Hence, it
was only fitting to learn about his decision from a showbiz magazine.
entering politics Lapid will further blur the line between publicity and
ability, person and persona and TV and reality. This is a process that has
already taken place in the United States, a place where your onscreen character
is the same as your true character. That’s how Arnold “The Terminator”
Schwarzenegger became governor and Ronald Reagan became
Lapid’s persona is one of consensus. His weekly column appears
in Yediot Aharonot
, “the nation’s newspaper,” and he is the anchor for Channel 2
news, the nation’s most watched news edition. Yair’s writings appeal to the
hearts of Israelis as they are filled with nostalgic and romantic images. Lapid
is the quintessential Israeli.
The former anchorman also conveys a sense
of intelligence and integrity. He elegantly transitions from one current event
to the other. On the one hand posing a challenging question to Roni Daniel,
Channel 2’s Rambo-like security commentator, while on the other hand adding to
Edud Yarri’s analyses of the Arab world. Thus, Lapid appears to be a man who is
verse in all aspects of Israeli life. From the IDF to the JNF, Lapid is a torch
of wisdom and insight.
But that’s just the persona. We know very
little about the person. As he has never run for public office or entered into a
political debate his views on the issues concerning us all are
Would he support a preemptive strike against Iran? Is he in
favor of negotiating a peace accord with Hamas? How does he feel about labeling
right-wing activists as terrorists? As a journalist, Lapid has had the luxury of
asking the questions without ever having to answer them.
Lapid is expected to keep his vow of silence in the upcoming months. The
elections are still some time away and he will not risk losing his status as the
heart of Israeli consensus by making his political views public.
behavior is an act of blatant disrespect towards his potential voters. Israelis
have the right to get to know their politicians in order to decide whether they
are worthy of their vote. This includes hearing their views on the challenges
facing this nation and questioning their ability to lead it. Turning mute is not
an act of integrity; it is a ploy for maintaining one’s popularity.
Beyonce, Lapid has talked the talk. We deserve to learn if he can walk the
walk.The writer is finishing his mass media studies at Tel Aviv
University. He has previously contributed to
The Jerusalem Post, the +972 online
magazine and on second thought magazine. His blog has been featured
several times in the Israeli press.