Friday, January 25, 2013

The Lapid Factor

When is no change actually a political earthquake?  Yesterday, in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu was reelected, but his party underperformed and the right wing / religious block found itself in a flat footed tie with the left and center parties, 60-60, in the ideological makeup of the next Knesset.  Israel's not veering to the far right after all.  It is veering to the middle.  The new Knesset will have more women than ever before, and the centrists have a new champion, Yair Lapid, a kingmaker whose Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party shocked the world by earning 19 Knesset seats. Lapid has committed himself to making Israel a far more progressive and inclusive society.  There is a future, indeed.
As for the peace process, an afterthought in these elections, I concur with Marc Schulman, who wrote, 

"The overwhelming majority of the Israeli public clearly does not think negotiation with the Palestinians is the most important item on our agenda. At the same time, the majority disapproves of many of the recent actions taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Israelis are happy to ignore the Palestinian problem. They have no interest in making the problem worse. Most Israelis do not want to take any more risks for peace. At the same time, the majority does not want any more settlements. Israelis want a strong Israel. However, they also do not want to poke the President of the United States in the eye."

And, I add, they understand that poking the President in the eye at a time when an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely, amounts to diplomatic malpractice.

I've been watching Lapid carefully for a while and I think Americans are going to like what they see (and they may be seeing a lot of him, as there is talk of his becoming Foreign Minister).  I opened my Kol Nidre Sermon with a story Lapid recalled at AIPAC, where he spoke eloquently about his father's miraculous escape from the Nazis as a child in Budapest.  He also spoke to Conservative rabbis at the Rabbinical Assembly convention last spring.  That in itself was remarkable for an Israeli politician.  He is a member of a Conservative (Masorti) shul in Israel.  On my blog (click here), you can find a brief video of what Lapid said regarding religious pluralism. It's something you have rarely if ever heard from an Israeli politician.  You'll also find there a recent column of his as well as today's "Letter from Netanya" from Jan Gaines, reporting on the elections.

All of which is a reminder for you to JOIN US THIS WEEKEND AS GERSHOM GORENBERG TELLS US WHAT IT ALL MEANS (see flyer below).  The snow is supposed to be very light.  You can warm up here - and on Friday night a special treat, as once again we'll be joined by harpist Lisa Tannebaum.  And on Shabbat morning after service, a delicious lunch will be served!

See you this Shabbat!


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