Sunday, June 01, 2008

Obituary: Yosef "Tommy" Lapid

Yosef "Tommy" Lapid died this morning at the age of 77, after a long fight with cancer.

When I think of Lapid, 2 distinct memories come to mind:

1. Lapid was a regular panelist on the "Popolitika" (Popular politics) TV show, which was infamous for turning into yelling matches very quickly. Anything right wing or religious usually got bashed quickly, loudly.

2. The TV election commercials for Lapid's "Shinui" party included a big Shinui fist going after black hats, and knocking them away. The primary plank of the "Shinui" party platform was to remove any Chareidi or Jewish religious "coercion" (or impact) on the State of Israel.

Lapid was extremely davka (spitefully opinionated) about everything he did. He never hid his opinions and was never shut up by anyone. He had no qualms about going out to publicly eat with Aliza (wife of Ehud) Olmert on Tisha B'Av morning -- he was davka.


However, I'm not jumping up and down and cheering at the man's death.
Lapid was born in 1931 in the city of Novi Sad in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (today Serbia) to a Hungarian Jewish family. When he was 12 years old, his father, a lawyer and journalist, was taken to a concentration camp and never returned. Lapid and his mother fled to Budapest, and immigrated to Israel at the end of 1948.

He served as a technician in the Israel Defense Forces, studied law at Tel Aviv University, and began his journalistic work in a Hungarian daily. He then moved to the Maariv daily, first as editor Azriel Carlebach's personal secretary, and later as a writer and columnist.

He established the At women's monthly magazine and served as director-general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority between 1979-1984.

Until the elections for the 15th Knesset in 1999, Lapid served as a senior editor and op-ed writer in Maariv, was a member of the panel of Channel 1's "Popolitica" program, and had a weekly radio show on current affairs on Israel Radio. (YNET)
We can't put ourselves in the shoes of a Holocaust survivor.

Chareidi pundit Yisrael Eichler recounts that Lapid had very little exposure to Judaism and the first time he ever saw anyone putting on tefillin was when he was in the IDF. He added that it was important for Lapid to be seen not as anti-Chareidi, but as pro-secularism.

Love him or hate him, Lapid was a "colorful" character in Israel.

Despite his pro-secularist outlook, his funeral is scheduled to include a traditional Jewish burial, and his son Yair is going to say Kaddish for him.

Update: Channel 2 Radio has reported that Tommy Lapid specifically requested that his son Yair say Kaddish for his memory, daily, in shul.

Additional Update: Despite the above report, Yair did not say Kaddish (at least not publically) at his father's funeral, however, the Chevra Kadisha did say Kaddish and Kel-Moleh after the tahara and preparation for burial (in a private setting)



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

22 comments:

YMedad said...

Well, he did get the job at Maariv, in part, by marrying Shulamit, daughter of a Maariv founder, David Giladi.

Leora said...

his son Yair is going to say Kaddish for him
You now got me curious about his son.

Baila said...

I appreciate your willingness not to crucify a dead man (sorry if that's a poor choice of words) and you acknowledging his status as a Survivor.

I'm glad he is having a traditional burial and that he has a son who will say kaddish for him.

Lurker said...

Leora: You now got me curious about his son.

Yair is a big secularist, too. But not nearly as davkanik and provocative as his father.

Gila said...

I think the davkanik-ness and provocation exists on both sides of this particular fence....

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Gila: Which particular fence?

If we look at the election TV commercials as an example; the Shinui ads were extremely davka anti-Chareidi. I dont think anyone would see the chareidi commercials as being davka anti-chiloni....

SuperRaizy said...

I also remember seeing him often on Popolitika, and your description of him as "davka" is pretty accurate.
I agree with almost nothing the man said or did. However, anyone who has contributed something to Israeli society deserves a measure of respect, and so I also appreciate your careful choice of words.

Lurker said...

A recollection of a brief encounter I had once with Tommy Lapid in 1995:

My wife and I were in the studio audience at Channel 1 for a segment of Popolitika, on which Tommy Lapid was a regular. After the show was over, I had a question that I wanted to ask Dan Margalit, the show's host; so we walked onto the set in the direction of where Margalit was standing. Lapid was nearby, and apparently thought that my wife and I were approaching him, rather than Margalit. He looked at the two of us (probably noticing my kippa and my wife's head covering) and said, "You'd better watch out -- I eat religious people for breakfast!"

"That's okay," I replied, "We weren't coming to talk to you anyway", and we continued walking over to Margalit.

He looked kind of disappointed.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Gila -- you wouldn't say that if you had watched years of popolitika!

Lapid was a bit of an enigma. Extremely anti-religious. Very "in your face." Very tough. Yet, every once in a while, a particular issue would bring out his "sensitive" side.

His son is much "softer." I enjoyed watching his TV show.

tafka pp said...

Well, I watched plenty of Popolitika- In view of the fact that Eichler was his co-panelist for many years, I think he sums Tommy up best...

(And can we just leave the who is nastier to/about each other debate to one side? When it comes to loving our neighbours, I think it is fair to say that we ALL have our moments of glory and not-so-much)

Gee a Moron said...

To me Tommy Lapid always seemed like he had been given an azus panim slap in the face by his Cheder Rebbe and because of that he went around with a perpetual chip on his shoulder against the religious.

Of course, it could also be that any faith he had died during the Holocaust and who am I to judge someone for that.

Gila said...

I have to admit that I LOVED the shinui ads. Of course, I looked at all the ads as pure entertainment. The ones with the rather Mafioso Russian type were also fantastic (in Russian-did not understand a word, but the atmosphere!)

YMedad said...

Okay, l'kaf z'chut: on that Popolitika show he once suggested planting car bombs amidst Arab civilian population

Anonymous said...

Much as I am loathe to speak ill of the dead, and while I respect his cultural significance, his contribution to the broadcast authority, Yad Vashem and so on, all the fawning over Lapid on the TV and radio is pissing me right off.

Lapid was a hypocritical bully who did much to lower the tone of political debate in Israel and exacerbate existing communal tensions for his own kicks and political gains. He and Shinui pandered to petit bourgeoise prejudice and achieved absolutely nothing in their time in government. Had they existed in western Europe, Lapid would have been bracketed with Haider and Le Pen as beyond the pale.

Anonymous said...

Last comment by Yellow Boy by the way.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yellow Boy: fawning over Lapid on the TV and radio is pissing me right off....

Well - I wasnt fawning over him! His bombastic style was so "in your face" that many (including myself) found it extremely insensitive (and not culturally haute to say the least)

RR said...

I remember reading an interview with him in which his wife served him a plate of ham while he was being interviewed and made a point of saying how it was one of his favorite foods- probably for the "davka" value.

DTC said...

Didn't he once comment about how he may be against Chareidim but he couldn't help but be impressed by all of the chesed that they do, to everyone? (Was that about Yad Sarah or some other similar organiztion?)

AMSHINOVER said...

http://amshinover.blogspot.com/2005/08/back-off-of-tomy-boy.html

aaah the good old days


BTW this is one topic jews and nazis can agree on

Anonymous said...

Look, he's dead and it's only for Hashem to judge. May his son's Kaddish bring about an aliya for his neshama,
Chometz Ben Yayin

Lurker said...

DTC: Didn't he once comment about how he may be against Chareidim but he couldn't help but be impressed by all of the chesed that they do, to everyone?

Perhaps you're thinking of this:

Once, on Popolitika, he made a remark to the effect that the haredim are parasites who contribute nothing useful to Israeli society. One of the panelists countered by pointing out that most of the members of ZAKA are haredim. (ZAKA is the volunteer organization that collects the remains of victims of terror attacks, so that they can be properly buried.) Lapid responded that "it's not surprising that so many haredim join ZAKA. The job is perfectly suited to them, since it gives them the chance to see dead, dismembered hilonim every day."

Anonymous said...

Did Meir Wilner also have a traditional funeral? When life ends, so does the debate.

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