ASHDOD, Israel — Wandering this week through the tables of a cafe not far from the grand City Hall, you could pick up one single name mentioned over and over again.
That same name was the talk of the town when I visited Ashdod just before the parliamentary elections in January. However, at the time, Minister of Finance Yair Lapid was seen as a rising star, the savior who was sure to come to the rescue and bail out the state of Israel and, in particular, the growing city of Ashdod. This week, residents of this city on the shore of the Mediterranean were talking about him as if he had contracted the black plague. There was no one left to stand up for his economic policy, in which he recently proposed budget cuts and tax hikes. “If he carries on like this,” said Aryeh, one of the diners, “he is bound to disappear from the political map just as quickly as he appeared on it.” The others nodded their agreement.