More than a month after announcing that he would be entering politics, journalist Yair Lapid officially presented his political agenda on Thursday, and used the opportunity to lash out at the Shas party.
Speaking at the Business Conference in Eilat, Lapid said, “For a long time I have been bothered by the question of who this country belongs to. So I want to answer. This country does not belong to interested groups, not to lobbyists and tycoons who want to cut our pension plans. It does not belong to the parties that impose themselves on the Knesset’s Finance Committee and threaten to dismantle the government, and not to those who throw stones and to people who threaten police officers.
“Once upon a time,” he continued, “the education was better than what we give to children, and the health system was better, and if you worked hard you could buy an apartment. It was difficult but not complicated. Your children cannot buy an apartment - just like that. They live in country where while they're in the army - others get a free apartment.
“There are several key factors as to why our situation looks the way it does,” added Lapid. “The first factor is our spoiled political system – a gaming system that makes us spend hundreds of millions while arranging jobs for various parties. The second factor is the fact that we are suffocated by those who do not do national service, do not serve in the military, do not pay taxes - and live at our expense.”
Directly attacking Shas, Lapid said, “Look at how Shas with 11 seats in the Knesset is spinning the whole country around its finger. See how United Torah Judaism, which is smaller than Shas, took over the Finance Committee. Why? Because they know what they want.
“Our spoiled system of government has turned politics into a corrupt game in which we are always governed by sectors and extortive parties. This is the year in which the red line was crossed. 50 percent of eighth graders this year are hareidim or Arabs. This means that if we don’t do something, within 12 years 50 percent of the population won’t serve in the army and won’t be integrated into the labor market and it would be the end of the Zionist state. The Palestinians do not have to fight us, they can make themselves a coffee and light a cigarette and wait for 12 years, and the Zionist state will collapse by itself.”
Lapid then wondered whether “we will always stand idly by and watch how our money goes to the bureaucracy and to corruption and towards the purchasing of apartments for the friends of Housing Minister Ariel Atias (Shas) ... What kind of life is this? What kind of world view is this? I’m not ready to run my life like that. I’m not ready to give up in advance. I'm not ready to give up.
“Israel, which prided itself on being an equal state,” concluded Lapid, “is today the country with the largest gaps in the Western world and the least social mobility in the Western world. If you were born poor, you’ll die poor – and that isn’t right, it is not economic and it is not social justice.”
The Shas party responded to Lapid’s speech and noted that he spent his military service as a reporter for the IDF newspaper “Bamachane”.
“Yair Lapid, as a person who risked his life and risked himself for his country while serving in the IDF newspaper, and as one whose education is less than the education acquired at Shas’ educational network, has been trying for some time to use tongue stunts to deceive the eyes of the Israeli public,” the party said. “Apparently, however, the Israeli public is intelligent enough to understand that this is merely a facade.”
The chairman of the United Torah Judaism faction, MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler, said that the hareidim will respond to Lapid’s remarks “at the appropriate time.”
“We will not be dragged into the defensive every time someone chooses the scene of war for us,” Eichler said. “Those who light the fire of hatred against the Torah of Israel and its learners, will bring to the destruction of the State of Israel long before the Iranians and the Palestinians do so.”