If Finance Minister Yair Lapid stays on his current political path, his Yesh Atid party will crash and burn like the Shinui party once headed by his father, public figures have warned.
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, was among those who compared Lapid the son to Lapid the father. Noting Lapid’s support for a recent court ruling against yeshiva funding, Rabbi Eliyahu said, “Yair Lapid, like his father, is living it up. We can take comfort in the fact that he will fall [from power] like his father.”
The Shinui party headed by Yair Lapid’s father Tommy Lapid briefly gained prominence on the political scene after winning a surprising 15 seats in the 2003 elections, having run on a platform of secular Zionism, economic liberalism, anti-hareidi feeling and strong opposition to Jewish religious involvement in public life. The party crashed in the polls just three years later, failing to enter the 2006 Knesset.
According to Rabbi Eliyahu, the way to bring Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party down is through cooperation between hareidi-religious and religious-Zionist leaders. Speaking to the hareidi radio station Kol B’Rama, he expressed regret that the religious-Zionist Jewish Home party had allied with Lapid.
The alliance “was a mistake and remains a mistake,” he declared.
Journalist and political analyst Sophia Ron Moriah had a similar warning for Lapid the son, stating that Lapid's focus on Israel-PA diplomacy will be his downfall. Writing for Maariv/nrg, Moria recalled challenging Tommy Lapid over his party’s decision to support the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria.
“’What does Shinui have to do with withdrawing from settlements? If you focus on diplomatic issues, Sharon will replace you with Labor,’” she recalled warning him. Lapid dismissed her as politically inexperienced, she said – only to see her prediction come to pass shortly afterward.
The same scenario is playing out today, she wrote, “Yaid Lapid insists each week on condemning the settlers, or making diplomacy-related demands of Netanyahu. Last weekend he discovered, again, that his party has dropped in the polls. Unsurprising.”
She compared Lapid to someone driving a private car who decides to enter the buses-only lane “and is surprised to find himself getting tickets.”
“The voter who generously gave Yesh Atid 19 mandates in the last elections didn’t give Yair Lapid a bus license. That is a license reserved for the two leading parties – Likud and Labor,” she argued.
Voters identify Likud and Labor, and some smaller parties, including Meretz, with their diplomatic agendas, she explained. When voting for Yesh Atid, they were not seeking a strong stance on the Israel-Arab conflict, she said.
“They wanted a party… that would focus on routine problems. On the voter’s daily life, the crisis of the middle class,” Moria argued.
Lapid will end up losing from both directions, she warned, as voters seeking a party focused on social issues turn to the next new party promising solutions, while voters whose primary interest is the creation of a PA-led Arab state will turn to Labor, Hatnua and Meretz. “When you have the original, who needs a copy?” she concluded.