Friday, July 8, 2016

Will one slip of the tongue cost this Israeli opposition figure the premiership?

Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor

Image from article, with caption: Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid attends a women's committee convention in Tel Aviv, March 1, 2015.
Ever since Yesh Atid crashed in the March 2015 election, dropping to just 11 seats, the party’s founder and chairman Yair Lapid proved that he understands political campaigns. ...
Lapid has become a well-oiled public-diplomacy machine, explaining Israeli policies overseas. He positioned himself as a patriot and die-hard Zionist who combats anti-Semitism from every imaginable forum, lashing out at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a regular basis. The public responded well to this, and Lapid soared in the polls. According to public opinion support polls, he now heads the second-largest party after the Likud and is the only viable alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It was all very impressive until July 4, when Lapid made his first mistake. He was on his way back from Eilat to Tel Aviv, so he used his wait at the southern city’s airport for a live video chat with his Facebook followers. Lapid read their questions and spent about 20 minutes answering them. In his friendly and eloquent way he discussed drafting the ultra-Orthodox, the banner issue most clearly identified with him and that won him 19 seats in the 2013 election. He said, “Equal [sharing of the burden] will not be on the table if and when we form the next government.” He then explained that the issue is currently before the Supreme Court and that he will respect whatever it decides.
Within just a short time, Lapid’s surprising statement was being quoted on news sites and across the internet. He was portrayed as someone who folded up his banner and abandoned his values in an effort to win the hearts of the ultra-Orthodox sector. ...

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