“He says things that make sense to the average Israeli,” said Shoshanah Baruch, a 42-year-old Israeli teacher who said she voted for Lapid. “I’m not against the settlements because I’m political, but because they drain money away from people like me who live in Tel Aviv and just want to have normal lives. For so many years I would listen to political messages and just think they didn’t understand me or my needs, and then he came along.”
The sense that Lapid is a “man of the people” helped drive his campaign, said Mellman.
As a new party, Yesh Atid – which translates to “There is a Future” – received a fraction of the campaign funding and television time the established Israeli parties received. Instead, he ran his campaign on Facebook and Twitter, telling voters his views on issues ranging from health care to the cost of his morning cereal.
In a speech earlier this week, Lapid told his supporters that those who voted for Yesh Atid “voted for the sake of normalcy, for trust between people, for the right to education and housing. . . . Today the people chose to say ‘no’ to the politics of hatred and fear. They said ‘no’ to extremism.”
In the crowds this week, some were chanting, “He’s a man of the people” and “One of us.”
A party adviser who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media recounted a story from years ago, when Lapid hosted his father, famed Israeli politician Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, as a guest on his talk show.
The older Lapid was a Holocaust survivor who went on to serve as an influential justice minister. The two were in the midst of discussing the elder Lapid’s rise to power and the shifts in Israel’s political history when Lapid turned to his father and asked, “But what is it to be Israeli?”
His father simply answered, “You.”