Why Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid?: A Look at the Israeli Election’s Big Winner
On Friday, I took a flight to Georgia and, as fate would have it, I ended up next to a young mother–whose entire family was seated in the rows behind us. After hearing her yell back to her relatives a few times in Hebrew, I knew I was in the midst of the most Thomas Friedman moment possible and so, after some small talk and some sharing of chewing gum, I finally asked her who she was voting for in the election.
Her answer: Yair Lapid.
It was a strange conversation because she also expressed admiration for the leadership qualities of The Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett, whom she said had the spirit. So why Lapid, I asked? She cited the economy, his muscular approach to the peace process, and most of all, the energy he brings.
‘Energy that would net about as many seats as Shas?’ I countered.
‘We’ll see,’ she said.
Her reasoning sounded like pablum until this afternoon when supporters of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party made some serious noise at the polls. And no matter how the final numbers turn out, the biggest winner of the Israeli election is Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid in nothing short of a barnstorm.
Earlier this month, when we were putting together our Tablet guide to the Israeli elections, like many others, we had Lapid down as a notable subplot in the election drama, but not as the main story. (We were more concerned with Bennett’s spirit.) Here’s what we said about Lapid:
Yair Lapid, a 49-year-old telegenic former news anchor for Channel 2, is the head of the new centrist party Yesh Atid, which seems short on concrete solutions, and is relying on winning votes by pushing issues like governmental and economic reform. Lapid, the son of a prominent member of Knesset and justice minister Josef ‘Tommy’ Lapid, has also capitalized on the issues of economic and social justice brought about by 2011’s J14 tent protests (see Etgar Keret’s piece for more on that). But he also has hawkish stances; Lapid claims he won’t join a coalition that refuses to return to negotiations with the Palestinians, opposes giving up Jerusalem in a peace deal, and wants both Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox to serve in the army.
This article makes it sound like Yair Lapid really wants to crush the “Ultra Orthodox,” which is what his father’s party wanted to do 10 years ago. However Yair is not like that, and recruited Haredim for his party list.
I am really surprised because I did not expect Yesh Atid to do so well right out of the chute.
Mazal Tov, Yair.