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Dr. Yair and Mr. Lapid wish you a shanah tovah

by Ben Sales, JTA

September 4, 2013 | 10:23 am

Yair Lapid, Israel’s finance minister and the founder of the centrist Yesh Atid Party

Yair Lapid, Israel’s finance minister and the founder of the centrist Yesh Atid Party

Yair Lapid wishes you a happy new year. Yair Lapid wishes you a shanah tovah

But don’t think those two are the same.

Lapid, Israel’s finance minister and the founder of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, released two Rosh Hashanah videos — one in English and one in Hebrew. And they’re totally different.

In the English one, below, Lapid sends a universal message of values, determination and — apropos the party’s name, “There is a Future” — optimism for the coming year. Lapid names some areas of policy where his party had an impact — education, housing, the peace process — but leaves it at that. It’s a message of unity and, with a few modifications, one that could have come from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or even President Simon Peres.

But if the English message is about unity and universalism, the Hebrew video — which is three times longer — strikes at the particular battles and tensions that have defined Lapid’s party since last year. There are no contradictions between the two, but it’s an entirely different tone. The message is part victory speech, part defense of embattled policies and part antagonistic warning to Yesh Atid’s opponents. Lapid mentions the party’s signature achievements so far: an expansion in the draft, a change in the electoral system, shrinking the number of government ministers — all issues that were missing from the English video.

Then, as Lapid turns to his controversial and somewhat unpopular budget, the video takes a more defensive tone. The budget was “tough and painful,” but, he claims, “saved the Israeli economy from collapse and did everything to protect the middle class.”

Finally, he turns to the naysayers. “We’ll let others scream and cry and declare that they’re disappointed while we continue on our path.” Ten seconds later, he adds, “This will be the year when every Israeli citizen, be he for us or against us, will know that it’s impossible to stop us. Happy new year.”

And that’s where the video ends. Shanah tovah.

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