Photo Credit: Flash90
Yair Lapid arriving at the Yesh Atid headquarters in Tel Aviv, January 27, 2013.

Neither foreign nor domestic media outlets were able to identify these undercurrents prior to the elections, but Lapid, previously a high profile newspaper columnist, talk show host and news presenter, did.

While the media was enchanted by the fanfare surrounding the pro-settlements Bayit Yehudi [Jewish Home] party and its charismatic leader, Naftali Bennett, Lapid was appearing on live television programs with his political rivals, going head-to-head with leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, and driving his message home.

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He also made good use of Facebook and YouTube further to promote his points; he reached many potential voters at little cost, and tapped into their worries and frustrations.

Lapid made headlines by producing a diagram of a fuse bomb, in reference to the diagram produced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the United Nations to highlight the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program. Mimicking the visual aid, Lapid, instead of warning of a nuclear Iran, showed his audience how close the middle class is to collapse — a development, he argued, as serious a threat to Israel as any security threat.

Many members of the public, as the election results showed, apparently agreed. Lapid’s election success is a reflection of the widespread view among Israelis that external threats do not mean that the country’s house should not be put in better order.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

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Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane's Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.
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