With just under 100 days until Israel’s national elections, the mainstream media have made a concerted effort to ignore the blatantly racist comments repeatedly expressed by Yair Lapid, Israel’s temporary Prime Minister and head of the center-left progressive party Yesh Atid. In any other Democratic country, Lapid’s racist comments would earn him the title of being a “White Supremacist”, but lo and behold, here in Israel, Lapid is the darling of the progressive left, and has designated himself to be the last line of defense against Benjamin Netanyahu being re-elected to Prime Minister come November. For this reason alone, Yair Lapid has become the ultimate Teflon politician in which any and all racist comments against the Mizrachim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin) never stick, allowing him to avoid being labeled for what he is, a racist.
Over the past few weeks and months, Lapid has insulted and expressed racist comments against half of Israel’s population without remorse or even an iota of regret. His most scandalous statement occurred when he called the Mizrachim, and I quote “Sh-t heads”, or A—Holes, depending on your translation source. He has labeled the Mizrachim as “disgusting”. Recently during a widely broadcasted speech, Lapid labeled the Mizrachim as the embodiment of the “forces of darkness”; Darth Vader is turning over in his grave.
Every Jew, whether Ashkenazi or Sephardic should feel uncomfortable with hearing racist expressions against other Jews. So what makes Lapid’s racist statement palatable to mainstream media? Let there be no doubt, hatred against the Mizrachim and hatred against Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters have become interchangeable. The majority of Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters are Mizrachim, and for that reason alone, they have earned the insult of being called “baboons”, “battered wife syndrome”, “herd mentality”, repeatedly.
Lapid’s father, Tommy Lapid was a cabinet Minister and head of the Shinui political party two decades ago. Tommy Lapid was a hater of Mizrachim and a racist in his own right. The following are some of his racist “gems”: "With the money that you spend on hairdos, you could educate your children," he said to a mother during a discussion on poverty; at battered women - "I don't know the source of the number of 200,000 battered women; perhaps some sociologist heard that his neighbor beats his wife and came to the conclusion that in every house, there is at least one husband who beats his wife;" "We didn't conquer Tul Karm, Tul Karm conquered us," he said in reference to the Arab-style songs of Mizrahi musicians. (Lapid frequently interchanged between the poor and Mizrachim). Yossi Beilin defined Tommy Lapid’s political party Shinui as actually being “a nationalist Ashkenazi front, which has elements bordering on racism." As we say, the fruit does not fall far from the tree, and Yair Lapid has embraced his father’s racist mentality.
If Lapid was really interested in understanding why Mizrachim vote consistently and over the years for the Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu, he would take the time out to reach out and listen to what they, the Mizrachim have to say. Lapid would discover that the Mizrachim, or many of them feel that their suffering and their sacrifice is a price that they are willing to pay for the good of the nation. They do not perceive of themselves as if they are suffering as individuals, but embrace the notion that their place in Israel and their contribution to the State of Israel is for the collective good of the Jewish nation. The Mizrachim are also confident that Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud have been and will be at the head of the political pyramid working for the overall good of the people including the Mizrachim. The past 12 years in which Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud have lead the nation; the rising standard of living, education, housing, health, employment, security have all filtered down to all levels of society enabling all of Israeli society to benefit from the prosperity of the past decade, and not just the progressive elite that Yair Lapid represents. The Mizrachim believe and have a deep suspicion that the progressive left and Yair Lapid have forgotten what it means to be Jewish. In Israel, the Mizrachim embodies a large percentage of the population whose loyalty to Jewish values and the state’s Jewish identity is very deep and very personal and should not be diluted or altered and certainly not maligned.
Lapid’s constant use of derogatory and racist terms against the Mizrachim serves an additional purpose. This past year Lapid has made a number of high profile blunders and his high volume racist comments serve as the perfect distraction; a change of focus away from his inexperience, inappropriate “Tikkun Olam” politics, and sheer ignorance in geo-strategic issues that have severely diminished Israel’s international relations. Despite Lapid’s attempt to hide his poor performance as Israel’s Foreign Minister, his public criticism and attacks against the leaders of Poland, Turkey, and Russia have shaken Israel’s bi-lateral relations.
This past week Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia ordered the closing of the Jewish Agency and affiliate offices operating within Russian territory just as Lapid held his first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister. This policy change by the Russians was implemented purposely the same week that Lapid become Prime Minister, who till now had been a vocal and public critic of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Lapid has over the past months made a number of irresponsible comments critical of the Russian nation and its leader without even understanding the implications. Lapid has gotten so used to never being held accountable for his tactless, inexperienced, and racist comments here in Israel; he has allowed himself to act with the same derogatory manner with strategic partners and weaken Israel’s international standing.
To truly understand the imminent danger of Yair Lapid as Prime Minister of Israel, even for a brief period of four months until the coming elections, all one has to do is look over to the Ukraine. There too the leader of the Ukraine had a similar background to Lapid. Both Zelensky and Lapid have a background of being entertainment celebrities. Lapid made his name as a talk show host while Zelensky was a TV personality and comedian. Zelensky has shown a blatant inability to lead his nation during peacetime, while his inexperience and misguided decisions right out of the “progressive handbook of politics” have brought about the invasion by Russia and the total destruction of the Ukraine.
Yair Lapid seems to be guided by the very same “progressive handbook of politics” and has endangered the strategic interests of the State of Israel. The Russian decision to ban the Jewish Agency within Russian territory in response to Lapid becoming Prime Minister, may very well be only the first step, while an additional deterioration in Israeli- Russian bilateral relations may lead to additional restrictions that limit Israel’s freedom against the Iranian threat in Lebanon, Syria, and beyond. Let us hope and pray that Yair Lapid, an avowed racist, takes immediate steps to undue the imminent danger to the State of Israel that he himself has brought upon us.