JERUSALEM — Among the Israeli politicians who lined up by the dozens to shake President Obama’s hand Wednesday on his arrival was Yair Lapid, the rising secular star of Israel’s politics.
Lapid was a popular former television journalist who last year formed Yesh Atid, a political party that sought to address the hopes and concerns of secular, moderate Israelis – the hundreds of thousands concerned by the quality of Israeli schools, the job market, the state-sanctioned privileges that benefit some religious Israelis, and other quotidian issues not directly related to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
And at a time when Israel’s hawkish religious parties seemed on the rise, Lapid’s movement scored big in Israel’s January general election, winning the second-most seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament, with 19. He is now the finance minister.
Obama had a chance to shake his hand Wednesday on the tarmac of Ben-Gurion International Airport, and while Lapid has appeared to enjoy his new-found political fame, the U.S. president had a warning for him.
“My wife always says,” Obama began with a smile, “be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”