יאיר לפיד
Yair Lapid
Photo: Avi Moalem
Young Yair Lapid with his late father Yosef 'Tommy' Lapid

Yair Lapid is a true leader in the making

Opinion: By declaring he no longer holds Gantz to their agreement to rotate the premiership, the Blue & White no. 2 has shown that he possesses an attribute vital for anyone who wants the top job - patience

Dr. Baruch Leshem |
Published: 12.16.19 , 15:42
In his younger days, Yair Lapid was into Thai boxing.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter
  • This is a cruel sport in which opponents in the ring go after each other using both their fists and their legs.
    Yair Lapid as a young man Yair Lapid as a young man
    Young Yair Lapid with his late father Yosef 'Tommy' Lapid
    (Photo: Rafi Deloya)
    At the age of 26, he competed against a local adversary everyone called "Tyson" after the American boxing champion.
    The fight was memorialized in a video recording that can be found on YouTube and has turned into a cult must-see
    (Yair Lapid takes a beating)
    In it Lapid is seen taking a beating and being knocked down for the first time; he struggles to get up and continues the fight only to be struck down again. Refusing to give up, he managed to once again stand up, charge his opponent and is knocked down for the third time.
    This time his attempts to get up off the floor fails. He has broken a rib.
    Though some may feel compassion for the young fighter, others, such as former prime minister Ehud Barak see resilience.
    "Look at his refusal to give in," he said after watching the clip.
    Last week, Lapid announced he is forfeiting the rotation agreement he had made with Blue & White leader Benny Gantz to share the premiership if the party are chosen to form a government.
    יאיר לפיד יאיר לפיד
    Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Avi Moalem)
    This could be seen as a step back, but could prove to be advantageous in the future.
    By declaring he no longer holds Gantz to the agreement, Lapid has shown that he possesses an attribute vital for candidates for the top job: Patience.
    Lapid's decision to enter politics before the 2013 elections caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understandable concern.
    The prime minister recognized qualities in the young candidate that could lead to political success. Primarily, he saw the ability to create an on-screen image of what Americans call the "presidential look" - charisma, warmth and physical strength.
    Lapid's own party Yesh Atid won 19 seats in those first elections and was labeled the next hot thing in Israeli politics.
    Netanyahu then set his traditional honey trap for the new politician. He offered to make him the finance minister.
    Just 10 years earlier, when then-prime minister Ariel Sharon offered Netanyahu that same position, he told his advisers: "It is the kiss of death for anyone who hopes to be prime minister."
    The finance minister is the government bad guy. Israel's defense needs hoover up most of the state budget at the expense of the country's social agenda and the minister who oversees the treasury is seen more often than not as a budget slasher.
    Yair Lapid and Benjamin NetanyahuYair Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu
    Yair Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Netanyahu, a graduate of MIT's prestigious Business Administration program, performed well at the Treasury but came under attack from the right-wing's lower-income voters because of his economic policies. Likud under his leadership dropped to 12 seats in the 2006 elections.
    Lapid wanted the Foreign Ministry but in a well-organized campaign, Netanyahu set his proxies against it, sending them out to the media with the same message for the Yesh Atid leader: "You said you wanted to help the middle classes and you can do that only as finance minister."
    In order to save his credibility, Lapid had to accept the more problematic portfolio.
    But just as he was beginning to find his ground, Netanyahu fired him from the government, sealing his reputation as a failure.
    Lapid was transformed from a potential national leader to the head of an unimportant and non-ideological party.
    There have been some such parties during Israel's short history. Mostly centrist, flash-in-the-pan factions that emerged to serve a particular need at a particular time.
    Lapid's own party suffered a blow in the following elections and dropped to only 11 seats, but still manage to prove it was in the political arena to stay.
    He demonstrated a considerable talent at political organization, set up party branches all over the country and brought a consistent body of voters together.
    Before the first round of elections in 2019, Lapid realized that Netanyahu had forced his own security agenda on the country and that his own party had no opponent formidable enough to challenge the prime minister on it. He came to the understanding that he needed a general to complete the team and lead the party to victory.
    But his initial attempt to enlist former IDF chief Benny Gantz failed.
    Gantz formed his own party and was determined to run for prime minister himself. Eventually, Lapid agreed to give the general the top spot in a union and make do with being number two - but only with a rotation agreement that would see him become prime minister in the latter half of the government's term, should the new party be victorious.
    בני גנץ, משה בוגי יעלון, יאיר לפיד וגבי אשכנזיבני גנץ, משה בוגי יעלון, יאיר לפיד וגבי אשכנזי
    Blue & White leaders at Gaza border
    (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)
    This Blue & White was born.
    Some called this bid for a rotation pure ego, but Lapid has played a vital role in Blue & White's success and he still does.
    He shared his political experiences with the generals in his party as well as the Yesh Atid infrastructure, but most of all he shared his knowledge of Netanyahu's tactics.
    During the so-called negotiations for a unity government, the generals in Blue & White - Gantz, Moshe Ya'alon and Gabi Ashkenazi - were willing to accept Netanyahu's demand to be prime minister first, believing he would step down at an agreed time and clear the way for Gantz to step into the role.
    Lapid insisted their party stay true to its word and not back down from its most important campaign promise - not to serve under a prime minister who has been criminally indicted.
    Lapid's decision to forfeit his rotation with Gantz was a tactical move, aimed at foiling Netanyahu's campaign that singled him out as the sole culprit in the failure of negotiations for a unity government.
    The added value gained from the decision was Lapid's coming of age, transforming from wunderkind to responsible adult.
    If Gantz were to be elected to lead the country, Lapid would serve in an important ministerial role enriching his experience and achievements and positioning himself as a potential prime minister as well.
    In the post-Netanyahu era, Lapid will be the most camera-savvy leader, possessing what it takes to become prime minister - a well-organized party on the one hand and personal ambition on the other.
    Ambition is more a hormonal drive than an intellectual one and Lapid can call on the same resilience he portrayed years ago when in the ring with the local Tyson - getting up again and again and again.

    Talkbacks for this article 0