Prime Minister Yair Lapid has a daughter with special needs. Her name is Yaeli and she is autistic. Lapid talked about her in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York Thursday.

It’s always moving to hear a father speak warmly of his daughter, certainly when she is one with special needs, and it’s good that the Lapid of the past few years hasn't tried to conceal her, thus contributing to increasing autism awareness.

But there is one context in which Lapid should not do this, the context in which he made cynical and manipulative use of his Yaeli, the context that shows him lacking self-awareness at best and lacking a conscience at worst: In his speech, Lapid brandished Yaeli to show how wretched he is and how wretched a position Israelis find themselves in. Last year he had to run with her to a bomb shelter at 3 A.M.

“All those who preach about the importance of peace are welcome to try running to a bomb shelter at 3 A.M. with a girl who does not speak. To explain to her, without words, why there are those who want to kill her,” Lapid told the world, like a beggar showing off the stump of his amputated limb. They want to kill Yaeli. Lapid wants to evoke tears and sympathy. That might work in a Jewish senior center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but it can no longer work with serious people who know the reality.

Yaeli had to run to the shelter after Israel put all the children of the Gaza Strip, including those with special needs, in a terrible cage 15 years ago. It’s hard to run with an autistic child to a shelter, but in this case she is not the victim. Her fate is irrelevant, while around her are victims who are immeasurably worse off. They are not victims of fate, like Yaeli, but rather victims of the state led by her father. Her father has done nothing so far to ensure that they will suffer less or that Yaeli will not have to run to the shelter.

While Yaeli’s parents were taking her to a shelter in Ramat Aviv Gimel, Israeli aircraft were bombing Gaza. While Yaeli was in the shelter, the children of Gaza had nowhere to run and no one to protect them. They remained exposed to the bombs falling on their heads. Israel killed 68 children, the equivalent of two overcrowded classrooms, in Operation Guardian of the Walls, which was criminal like its predecessors and the one that came after it, on her father’s orders.

How can an Israeli prime minister stand before the UN General Assembly and lament the fate of his daughter, while his country does what it has been doing to the children of Gaza for 15 years, 55 years, 70 years? How can he talk about Yaeli and ignore the fate of Uday Salah, 17, younger than Yaeli, who was killed by an IDF sharpshooter by one bullet to the head and one to the heart?

How dare he complain about the report that Malak al-Tanani was killed by IDF fire last year, and then it turned out that she wasn’t – while the IDF lies again and again to evade its responsibility for war crimes – from the killing of an 80-year-old man in Jaljulya to the killing of five children in Jabalya, one of whom was just 3, in Operation Guardian of the Walls, to the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. And how can Lapid stand on the stage at the General Assembly and claim with pathos that “This building is silent,” while his country is among the most shamefully silent countries in the world when it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

Lapid gave a nice speech, another column to stick on the refrigerator door, and this time in an affected British accent. He chose to speak about peace and home, instead of danger and war like his predecessor, and for this he is to be commended. But when talk is divorced from reality, denies occupation and preaches morality to others, the chutzpah is insufferable, and it’s impossible not to be ashamed and embarrassed that this is your prime minister.

It was hard with Yaeli in the shelter, but Gaza’s children can only dream of what Yaeli has. The main blame is on the state that her father heads, in which he even symbolizes – incredibly – moderation and hope.

QOSHE - Gaza’s Children Can Only Dream of What Yair Lapid's Daughter Has - Gideon Levy
We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Gaza’s Children Can Only Dream of What Yair Lapid's Daughter Has

7 65 114
29.09.2022

Prime Minister Yair Lapid has a daughter with special needs. Her name is Yaeli and she is autistic. Lapid talked about her in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York Thursday.

It’s always moving to hear a father speak warmly of his daughter, certainly when she is one with special needs, and it’s good that the Lapid of the past few years hasn't tried to conceal her, thus contributing to increasing autism awareness.

But there is one context in which Lapid should not do this, the context in which he made cynical and manipulative use of his Yaeli, the context that shows him lacking self-awareness at best and lacking a conscience at worst: In his speech, Lapid brandished Yaeli to show how wretched he is and how wretched a position Israelis find themselves in. Last year he had to run with her to a bomb shelter at 3 A.M.

“All those who preach about the importance of peace are welcome to try running to a bomb shelter at 3 A.M. with a girl who does not speak. To explain to her, without words, why........

© Haaretz


Get it on Google Play