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The Downfall of Minister Lapid

Finance Minister Yair Lapid turns strategically, and obsessively, to his main campaign slogan against the ultra-Orthodox, to blur the fact that he has not owned up to his own promises.
Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Energy Minister Silvan Shalom and  (not pirctured) in Jerusalem June 19, 2013. Israel said on Wednesday it will keep the majority of it's newfound natural gas for domestic use, but will still allow enough gas to be sold abroad to satisfy exploration companies who want access to the global market. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS ENERGY BUSI
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It is hard to remember now, but the issue of the ultra-Orthodox enlistment was by no means on top of the agenda of Yesh Atid Chairman and now Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid when he first entered politics and, as a matter of fact, nor was it for a long time afterward. One day in August 2012, Lapid attended a rally coordinated by the leaders of the organizations calling for equal sharing of the national burden, held at the Tel Aviv Museum plaza. Those were the days following the withdrawal from the government of the Kadima Party against the backdrop of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surrender to the ultra-Orthodox factions. At the time, Lapid was barely half a year in politics. The elections were still far off then, and Lapid was losing relevance and declining in the polls. He thus sought any possible way to associate himself with the spirit of the social justice protest and other popular campaigns.

Equal sharing of the burden was considered the day's “hot topic,” which occupied the headlines for some time, and the demonstration called by the organizations advocating equal sharing of the burden was just what Lapid needed. He engaged several dozen Bedouins to act as protesters, dressed them in T-shirts bearing the Yesh Atid logo to create an atmosphere of public support, and set out to take over the ground. Unfortunately for him, the demonstration that he attempted to hitch a ride on turned out to be a flop, and he was accused of having taken advantage of the event to make a political fortune and of driving away the protesters. It was certainly not one of the glorious moments of Lapid’s brief political career.

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