Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
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This is your country and we will not let the violence win

We will not abandon the country to those who try to exploit our every frustration to turn against each other
Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, on May 6, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, on May 6, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

I would like to begin by wishing a full and speedy recovery to all those injured and express my deep sense of grief with all the families of those killed, Jews and Arabs:

Khalil Awad and his daughter Nadine, Nella Gurevich, Leah Yom Tov, Sahomi Santosh. Five-year-old Ido Avigal, whose death broke the heart of an entire country, Omar Tabib, a Nachal (Brigade) fighter who was killed a month before his release from the IDF.

The State of Israel faces two threats today.

The first is Hamas. We will defeat it. Hamas is a despicable and dangerous terrorist organization that kills 5-year-old children. We need to forcefully take it on and make it clear to them that you do not mess with us. Do whatever it takes to bury them in whatever hole they crawled out of.

I held security discussions today with the prime minister, with the minister of defense and with senior IDF officials. We have a strong army. We have the necessary strength. In a confrontation with us, Hamas will be hit hard.

What is happening in recent days on the streets of Israel, however, is an existential threat. It is an existential threat if you took a wrong turn, and you went into the wrong street at the wrong time, and now you are lying on the floor and dozens of people are beating you and you know they won’t stop. They will beat you until you die and no one will come to help. If we do not stop this, the country is in danger. If we are not a state governed by the rule of law, then we will not be a state at all.

A state is not just land and an army and a flag. A state is the law. A state is the laws we must all obey.

In the Jewish state, synagogues must not be burned. There will be no Kristallnacht here. In the State of Israel, a taxi driver must not be beaten just because he is an Arab. Neighbors cannot continue to be afraid of one another. Entire nights of lawlessness and rioting and mob violence cannot continue.

The first, the most important law, which precedes all other laws, is that only the state is allowed to use force. Without it, there is no personal security. On the day that citizens take the law into their own hands, there is no state.

We are on the edge of the abyss. We knew it was coming. We have seen this disintegration coming. We saw it before the tragedy at Meron, before Bat Yam, before Tiberias and Lod and Acre.

The writing was on the wall.

It is impossible to spend years doing everything to weaken the police and then be surprised when the police do not come at night when they are called.

You cannot do everything to crush the courts, and then be surprised when people disregard the law.

Anyone who has done everything to push terror supporters, who are experts in spreading hatred, into the Knesset should not pretend to be shocked when hatred erupts and burns us from within.

I could go on with this indictment, but I’m stopping here. This is not the time. We have something much more urgent to do now. We have a mission.

We have a joint mission, all of us, that is much more urgent:

To get this country back on track, to reach out to each other, to gather the good and moderate and law-abiding people, and to remind them that this is their country.

We need to reach a situation where in a week or two — as soon as the operation in Gaza ends — Israel will be different. That it will have a different government, that will restore to our lives the common good, the fairness, the trust in each other, the trust in leaders and in values, but above all else and before all else – the observance of the law and respect for the law.

It sounds impossible to be different within two weeks, but it’s not. It’s up to us.

I heard Naftali Bennett’s announcement that he does not see the feasibility of a change government happening in the current circumstances. I understand his distress, but he is wrong.

You don’t bring about change when it is comfortable. Whoever waits for the right moment will find that it will never come. Change is made when you believe it is the right thing to do. When you believe your path is the right one.

I have no intentions of giving up. I will continue to turn over every stone to form a government in the coming weeks. There are another 20 days of the mandate — in political terms, that is an eternity. We will continue to fight and if we do not succeed, we will go to the most unnecessary and dangerous elections in the history of the country, and we will win.

We will win in the name of those who refuse to accept violence and hatred. In the name of all the good Israelis who refuse to accept a government that rips us apart from within as its modus operandi.

Right now, precisely in the face of chaos and terror, we need to form a government. The situation will not change if we do not change it.

Reality will not improve by itself. The role of leaders is to create a better reality. We must do everything to form a new government in Israel, as soon as possible, with everyone who believes in law and order and coexistence.

A government, which instead of weakening us will strengthen us: strengthen the police, strengthen the legal system, strengthen the solidarity between us and strengthen Israeli society.

In difficult moments, in wars, Israelis always knew how to overcome and change and correct. It exists within us. Just as we have within us the evil and violence that erupted in one moment, we also have within us the good and unifying and the love of Israel. They are just waiting to be released.

And let me tell you something else, for those who love the country and are anxious for it and cannot bear what they have seen on television in recent days:

We are the majority.

Not a small majority, an absolute majority, a huge majority, of good Israeli citizens. Jews and Arabs. Ultra-Orthodox and religious and secular. We all believe in the same thing: that the violence cannot win. We will not let it win.

We do not hate each other. We will not abandon the country to those who try to exploit every frustration and anger to make us turn against each other.

We are the majority, and the majority is good. And the majority is law-abiding. And the majority understands that it is time for a profound change in Israeli society. I will do everything so that this majority gets the country it deserves and the government it deserves as soon as possible.

Shabbat Shalom

About the Author
Yair Lapid is the Founder and Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Israel's centrist party, and the leader of the opposition
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