Yair Lapid supplied a few “headlines” to an audience at Tel Aviv University Wednesday afternoon, where he spoke at a meeting of the Israel MIT Forum. Below is a play-by-play of the event.
Yair Lapid, who clearly wants to be Prime Minister, is speaking at the MIT Forum Israel at a special meeting for hi-tech entrepreneurs. He is actually the first speaker – usually they leave the ‘big names’ for last. And in his introductory remarks he made what sounds a lot like a stump speech, inviting “Israelis who care about the future of this country” to join him.
“We are the majority,” he said. He did not define “we,” but he did refer to “groups and tribes” who are “squeezing the country dry.”
Questions and answers already! First question – what will it take to get into your party’s list? Short answer – “you need to be someone who knows what needs to be done. Not politicians, but people who have accomplished something. People who are able to get things done.” There are a number of such people, he said.
Question: If you find someone that will be able to get your party 25 seats in the Knesset, would you choose him to head the party? Lapid’s answer: “There is no such person” – other than himself, I am sure,
Lapid: I am not running to be Prime Minister. I want a party of 15-16 Knesset seats that will set the agenda for the next government.
Lapid: My dream is to be Education Minister, maybe Foreign Minister. Definitely not Finance Minister (“I’ve seen other politicians fall into that trap”). Meaning that it’s not a popular job?
Lapid: The agenda I want to set will be based on the “productive” Israelis, with education, “affordable housing,” health etc.
“I have been all over the country, north, Gaza border area, poor neighborhoods, and we all want the same thing.”
Lapid has some great ideas for his party list, but won’t say – many of them are from outside the “Tel Aviv crowd,” he says (“the Branja”)
Here;s a good one: What’s your stance on the peace process? Answer – the platform is meaningless usually, because no one votes on the basis of that.
We are developing one, though. And ours is going to be “interesting.”
Lapid: In the end, everyone in the “sane center” (his election slogan?) says the same thing on the peace process. Netanyahu made four speeches offering territorial compromise.
We can only hope that the next government will be “sane” and do the right thing for a settlement (he did not use the word peace.)
Question: Are you in favor of territorial compromise? Lapid: Even Netanyahu said he was. Must be done with care for security of Israel, not haphazardly.
Now we get to the Hareidim. Lapid is asked what he will do about ensuring that the “burden is carried equally by all.”
His answer: The Hareidim must learn that they need to play the “Israeli game,” and be a part of the state – and the army.
Today, in 2012, we hit the “halfway point,” where Hareidim and Arabs are now half of the students of the educational system.
We have nothing against Hareidim or Arabs – but we cannot support a society that supports them. Obligations and benefits go together
Hi-tech question to Lapid: Should the government support hi-tech? Can hi-tech folk not do it by themselves?
Answer: Yes, especially in education. Tech education is the only education that has a major return on its investment. If the government does that kind of investment it will pay off now, and in the future.
Very interesting comment: “I know that many people in this audience are dreaming of a tech exit, ie being bought out by a big company. But I dream of more Checkpoints – where we keep our technology instead of selling it abroad and build big and strong companies.”
Lapid on contract workers: Some jobs should remain outsourced.
Question: What would Lapid do about integrating the periphery? All the tech assistance is in the center. What about “Periphery vs. Tel Aviv?”
Answer: The solution is education.
A story: A few years ago the state realized that education was a problem in the periphery. They decided to set up a committee to see how they could help students, chaired by Dr. Shimon Shoshani. And they found a number of issues that needed addressing, and decided that the kids in the periphery would get 26% more resources.
Afterwards, Shoshani was appointed to the Education Ministry’s budget committee – and he rejected his own report!
The point: Israeli poliiticians do not appreciate education properly and how to fund it.
Instant audience poll: The hi-tech crowd at the MIT Forum think Lapid would be great as Education Minister
They just played a satirical clip from Channel Two, the joke being that in the clip he was glad-handing everyone in sight – campaigning – while saying “I am not running for the Knesset.”
Lapid: I do not expect to be, or want to be Prime Minister!
Question: How are you different than Shinui? (His father Tommy Lapid’s party)
Answer: Unlike my father I am not against Hareidim, in fact I went to Hareidi yeshivot to explain to them I am not against them. I realize that my family name is a “label,” but my party is nothing like Shinui.
Question: What would you ask of your father if he were here today?
Answer: I actually “speak” to him often. But I have come to realize that at a certain point you are responsible for your own life.
Shelly Yechimovich of Labor was just mentioned – she got a lot of applause!
Lapid “playing to the crowd”: I am handling this business like a startup. I have ups and downs, but I have a vision and am determined.
Personal observation: Lapid is definitely talking to his kind of people (secular, Tel Aviv and big city people of the managerial class – the “yuppies,” if that word is still used). He really hasn’t ripped the Hareidim too much.
Pop poll: How many people here (audience of 300 plus) will vote for Lapid in the next election? About three quarters of the audience raised their hands. Of course, like in the US Primaries, we’re still very early in the game…
Closing remarks by Lapid – “remember it is up to you.” It being the institution of Lapid’s ideas on education etc.
And as Lapid left the stage, about a third of the crowd left. Now we get to the real hi-tech people (Zohar Zisapel of RAD, Yossi Sela of Gemini Funds). Not as headline-making as Yair Lapid, but still interesting!
Hope you enjoyed this live blog!