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Yosef "Tommy" Lapid (1931-2008)

Leading Journalist Dead At Age Seventy-Seven

Tommy Lapid: 'We Won't Agree To Have Another Yad VaShem Memorial Erected In Our Memory'

'British Left-Wing Lecturers Are Requested To Burn All Books Written By Jews Exactly As Their Spiritual Forefathers Did In Nazi Germany'

Yosef Tommy Lapid (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Yosef 'Tommy' Lapid, one of Israel's most controversial journalists and politicians, has died of cancer at the age of seventy-seven. After an outstanding career in journalism, Lapid led the Shinui party to an election success in 2003 joining the former Sharon as justice minister. A bitter rival of the ultra-orthodox religious community in Israel, Lapid ran on an anti-religious ticket. After leaving politics, Lapid was appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to head the Yad VaShem Memorial for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Himself a Holocaust survivor, 'Tommy Lapid' was never at a loss for words in taking on what he viewed as anti-semitic lecturers in Britain or those who acquiesce in Iran's threats to wipe Israel off the map.

Tommy Lapid in the Israeli Army (1949)

Lapid was born in Novi Sad in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (today Serbia) to a Hungarian Jewish family. Having survived the Holocaust, Lapid immigrated to Israel in 1948. He attended Tel Aviv University, where he gained an LL.B.. Lapid was married to Shulamit, a novelist. They had two children. Their son, Yair Lapid, is a well-known columnist and television host.

Lapid began work as a journalist at Maariv, eventually becoming General Director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority as well as chairman of the Cable TV Union. He was one of the three hosts of Popolitika, a TV show on Channel 1 which brought politicians to debate on current affairs. The three were known for their rather inflammatory and hot-tempered rhetoric (one of the other three was an ultra-orthodox Knesset member).

He was also a former chairman of the Israel Chess Society and served as an honorary member of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

In the late 1990s Lapid joined Avraham Poraz's liberal-centrist Shinui party, a significant factor in boosting the party's prominence on the Israeli political scene. Lapid became party chairman and Shinui won six seats in the 1999 elections, with Lapid entering the Knesset for the first time.

Tommy Lapid and Ariel Sharon (Photo: Amit Shabi)

In the 2003 elections the party ran on a strongly secularist platform and won a major success, with the party taking 15 seats, making it the third largest in the Knesset after Likud and Labour, with particularly strong support in the Tel Aviv area. Shinui were invited into Ariel Sharon's government, with Lapid appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice.

On July 2006, Lapid was appointed chairman of the Yad Vashem institution by the government. He appeared on Council of Wise Men, a TV show on Israel 10 and had his own radio program on Israeli radio Reshet Bet. (Wikipedia)

The Genocide in Darfur

"Humanity has seen genocide since time immemorial. After the Holocaust, too: we've been witness to the genocide in Biafra, in Cambodia, in Rwanda. We have to raise an outcry against the genocide now being perpetrated in Darfur, Sudan. Meanwhile, the world sits with its arms folded, sending a few sacks of flour - not so much to feed the hungry as to salve its consciences.

The Holocaust, that we remember here today, at Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, in Israel; the Holocaust, in which six million blameless Jews perished. The Holocaust, that was a singular event in history: for in the Holocaust, a primitive human beast used modern technological means to exterminate a people - deliberately, with scientific detachment, by industrializing death.

The viruses of that lethal disease called antisemitism have developed antibodies. No longer are they impressed by the lessons of the past, nor do they accept the norms of the present. Rather, they wait in anticipation of the day when evil will break out again. Skinheads march in Berlin, their arms raised in the Nazi salute. Hungarian fascists organize parades in the streets of Budapest. Muslim fanatics torch synagogues in France. "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is sold in Japan, and television broadcasts in Cairo and Damascus show Jews drinking children's blood.

For Iran's president, the extermination of six million Jews wasn't enough. He thinks - and not only thinks, but believes - that in Israel there are still six million Jews too many. According to his plans, he will have means of destruction at his disposal, in comparison with which the gas chambers of Auschwitz are but a prelude.

Six million dead are speaking to us from beneath the ground. "We thought," they say to us, "that this couldn't happen. We depended upon the kindness of others. We believed that there's a limit to madness. And when we awoke from these delusions, it was already too late. Don't follow in our footsteps."

The civilized world advises us to be compliant, to compromise, and to take risks for the sake of giving peace a chance. And we ask the civilized world; we ask on Holocaust Remembrance Day, of all those who preach morality to us: And what will you do if we take those risks, and sacrifice victims, and place our trust in you - and something goes wrong? If the other side doesn't behave as it's expected to, but instead rains fire and brimstone down on us, and epidemics and poisons, and perhaps even nuclear weapons? What will you do then? Tell us: sorry, we were wrong? Send us bandages? Open orphanages for the children who survive? Pray for the eternal welfare of our immortal souls?

This is the message we are sending from here today, to the outside world: if you want to understand us, and if you want to know our motives, think about the Holocaust. Because we think about it every day, and also in our dreams.  And if we say, "Never again" - what we mean is that we'll never again take risks. We won't have another Yad Vashem erected to our memory."


British Lecturers' Boycott Of Israeli Academia

Tommy Lapid (Photo: Amit Shabi)

"Distinguished Professor: I certainly understand your humanitarian reasons that prompted you to vote for the resolution of Britain's UCU to boycott lecturers and students of Israel's academia. I also accept your explanation that you did not declare a similar boycott of American academia, despite the occupation of Iraq, solely because you forgot at the time. I would not even consider, certainly not, that you were remiss in ignoring Iraq because you were not eager to sever you ties with Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other American universities.

You do not harbor such petty considerations, absolutely not! You will obviously understand that the' fair play' which moves Britain's left-wing intellectuals to persecute Israelis, also entitles us to balance your decision by one of our own. Therefore, we forbid you any usage of the Bible because of its being written in original Hebrew. You are barred all use of it for prayer, scientific research and for reading material. Henceforth, any reference of the Ten Commandments, by you and your colleagues, will be considered a violation of our exclusive copyright. This also applies to the New Testament which, as is well known, was authored by Jews from the Land of Israel.

On the other hand, you are permitted to make full use of das Capital by Karl Marx as a fitting punishment that you so justly deserve. I feel confident that you will also fare well without the teaching of Sigmund Freud. There are not a few scientists among you as well as Palestinian intellectuals who will easily fulfill the vacuum left by Freud.

You are aware that Palestinian intellectuals in large measure paved the way for the suicide bombers as an expression of of resistance to Freud's theories on aggression. To our great sorrow, you will also have to carry on without Albert Einstein. As is also well known, Einstein was not only a good Jew but also an Enthusiastic Zionist who bequeathed his papers to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem which you have voted to boycott.

Your physicists will now have to make do without Einstein's theory of relativity and to base their research solely on that of Isaac Newton, from several hundred years earlier. The gap created by your boycott creates a gap that you should be able to span say within two hundred years.

But what is all important is is that forthwith you are requested to burn all the books written by Jews, precisely as your spiritual forefathers did in Nazi Germany!"


David Essing

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