Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid confers with Ra’am Chairman Mansur Abbas in the Knesset, May 23, 2022.
All politicians pander, but Interim Prime Minister Lapid’s appeal to Arabs for votes has raised pandering to a level that might be called an art form, were it not so destructive.

In a recent interview with two Arab media channels, Lapid figured that the way to curry favor with Arabs was to bash the interests of Jews. This is the clear import of his “read my lips” pronouncements that there will be no Jewish prayer allowed on the Temple Mount. “We allow Jewish visits. We do not allow Jewish prayers on the Temple Mount. We allow Jewish visits. They visit. It is under supervision so that the status quo is not violated. The status quo is not violated.”

Doesn’t Lapid read the papers? Doesn’t he see that the infamously oppressive status quo, a dressed-up term for the denial of Jewish civil rights on the Temple Mount, is being regularly chipped away at, thanks to the courage and determination of ascending Jews.


For Lapid, getting Arab votes is far more important than getting the situation righted to allow access, prayer and dignity for all, including his own.

Lapid missed a huge opportunity to preach integration, mutual understanding, and tolerance, in favor of telling Arabs what he thinks they want to hear.

I am involved with a movement designed to foster Arab integration in Israeli society, a movement spearheaded by Zionist Jews and grassroots Arab professionals. It is not the typical time-worn blame and apologize collaboration that Left wing Jews have attempted in the past, but one based on Arab acceptance of Israel as a Jewish State, and Jews’ acceptance of Arabs as equal citizens.

Lapid could have shown real leadership by not reducing the situation on the Temple Mount to the current zero sum game, one where either Jews or Arabs, but not both, win.

He could have empathized with his Arab audience, while simultaneously pointing out that the rights and freedoms that Arabs enjoy on the Temple Mount need not mean that Jews could not enjoy commensurate rights and freedoms.

He could have told the truth, saying that Al Aqsa has not been nor ever will be “in danger” or “under attack” and that Jews have no interest in preventing Muslims from praying; and are only interested in securing the same rights of unfettered prayer for themselves.

Of course, you might say, all of this is electioneering, not an appropriate time for civic healing. And Lapid was certainly electioneering, basically blaming all Arab problems on his predecessors in power. Shades of Biden condemning Trump at every moment.

But the Temple Mount is not an internal Arab issue, like crime in Arab communities. The Temple Mount is our great shared concern, our ground zero for Arab/Jewish interaction and relations.

To approach the situation there as a tug of war, in effect giving aid and comfort to the idea of treating the Temple Mount as a kind of dog whistle the way Arab extremists do, is a terrible failure of leadership.

It not only patronizes Arabs, but it also turns Lapid’s back on any and all Jewish aspirations for fairness and dignity.

How can such a person ask us with a straight face to elevate him to be the leader of a Jewish State?


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Douglas Altabef made aliyah in 2009 with his wife and youngest child from Bedford, New York to Rosh Pina in the Upper Galil. He serves on the Board of several Israel-oriented not for profit organizations, including The Israel Independence Fund and Im Tirtzu.