The Betrayal of the Intellectual


yair-lapidBy Yair Lapid

I don’t accuse intellectuals of bias or of anti-Semitism but too many of them are certainly guilty of intellectual laziness.

Too many American and European intellectuals have taken moral relativism to its absurd extreme, falling back upon the ‘validity of every narrative’ and repeating the mantra that ‘every story has two sides.’ They treat those who have a clear moral stance as primitive. For them, if you take a moral stand or choose a side in a conflict you must lack the necessary tolerance to “see the other side.”

It seems a distant memory but not long ago intellectuals did the exact opposite. They were the ones who helped us differentiate between good and evil, between right and wrong, between justice and injustice. They didn’t delve into the childhood of Senator McCarthy or ask whether the Germans felt a genuine sense of hardship. The debate wasn’t over feelings but the essence of truth.

The betrayal of the intellectuals was especially noticeable during the days of the operation in Gaza. Ostensibly, there should be no question as to who enlightened people should support; on one side of the conflict stands a western democracy, governed by the rule of law, which warns civilians before striking legitimate terrorist targets. On the other side stands an Islamist terrorist organization, homophobic and misogynistic, committed to killing Jews, which does all in its power to murder innocent civilians and hides behind its own women and children when carrying out its vicious attacks.

But those intellectuals see it differently. For them, the Palestinians are suffering more and so they must be right. Why? Because they have turned suffering into the only measure of justice.

The suffering in Gaza is truly heartbreaking, but the causes are not clear cut. When Hamas forces civilians to stand on the roof of a building which is used as a terrorist command center despite knowing that the building will be attacked (and they know because we warn them), who are we to hold responsible? When Hamas places rockets and explosives inside UN schools and fires from within hospitals, who are we to hold responsible? When Hamas fires thousands of rockets and mortars at the cities of Israel and fails to kill hundreds of our children only because of our technological edge and the Iron Dome missile defense system should we blame ourselves for suffering less?

Those intellectuals betrayed themselves because they refuse to answer these questions or even to truly appreciate the complex global reality in which we all now live. Instead they stare at the photographs of the injured children in Gaza and compete as to who is the most outraged.

Hamas, of course, is acutely aware of the weakness of many western intellectuals and treats them as a tool in its propaganda war. There is significant intelligence information – not only in the hands of Israeli intelligence – which shows that Hamas believes, theologically, that there is no barrier to sacrificing the lives of the children of Gaza to garner sympathy in the western media. Those who are aware of the intelligence also know how the Hamas sees western intellectuals who buy into their gruesome propaganda – they are a tool, to be used and to be mocked.

Yair Lapid is the Israeli Minister of Finance and chairman of the Yesh Atid Party.

The Algemeiner Journal

{ Israel}


  1. Intellectuals? Lazy no dumb they have book learning but can’t think thru a simple problem. Sorry they are anything but smart

  2. Why give Lapid the honour of being on a Chareidi website?
    He does everything in his power to attack us and deny us of basic funding, while bullying the Chareidim to join the army and drop yeshivos.
    It seems inappropriate to quote him in a positive way which is giving him credit for being in power.
    Yesh Atid is built on Anti-Chareidi and against anything with Torah.

  3. I don’t understand why anyone would post this man’s opinions, let alone a frum website. He has no credentials, period. Even his so-called popularity is not a credential in contemporary society. On the other frum website where his comments were posted, some commented that it’s sinas chinam to criticize him and his views. Think of the spiritual damage this man has set out to do to the Jewish people. Think of his boorish handling of his position of “power.” I think we need to wise up about using phrases which are completely rejected and abhorred by the people about whom we’re using them. I hope he does tshuva along with the rest of us and soon!

  4. If the underlying problem relates to our estrangement from HaShem, someone like Lapid, who promotes estrangement, is the last person we should heed.

  5. “Hamas fires thousands of rockets and mortars at the cities of Israel and fails to kill hundreds of our children only because of our technological edge and the Iron Dome missile defense system” Kochi V’otzem yadi asyu li es hachayil hazeh!

  6. He takes issue with the world for making suffering the only litmus test, However, he should look at the mirror and at the people he associates with (ie. Secular Jews, Zionists) who have for 60+ years been constantly harping and squeezing the Holocaust for any sympathy from the world. They and they alone bare this burden. When you use the 2000+ years of suffering of the jews for cultural identification/ justification for their actions without balancing it with a G-d centered ethical purview of the world ie. Not defined by man’s definition of morality (tolerance of homosexuality, for example) then of course the “intellectuals” of the world will look at situation superficially, they are just continuation the logical flow of things, they for years upon years guilt tripped the world for the “suffering of the Jews”. When this is hocked for years on end with propaganda, people and generations are eventually trained by osmosis to look at the world in terms of the “oppressor and the oppressed”. Anyone who knows the history of the early state knows this tool of guilt was instrumental in guitling the UN to give the jews a state.

  7. Lapid misses a point: moral relativism is just a tool, not a reason for the Jew-hating double-standard. To intellectually-honestly admit the secular “role models” to be nothing but a bunch of vile Jew-haters, is to reject the idea secularism. Lapid values secularism more than the Jewish people, hence grasping at straws to find any other explanation for the phenomena of Eisav sonei es Yaakov that clearly stares us in the face.

  8. Lapid is a human being, a father and a husband with children whom he cares for and wants to look after, just like us – he is a real person with real emotions who wants to help. That may be difficult to hear that he is a human, and not a rasha, but you only have to meet him to realise he really does not hate chareidim. Whether he is right or wrong on his opinions is a different question but please let’s not deligitimise his personality because we don’t agree with what he says. His main message is clear: poverty and the persecution-complex have been the two main factors leading to Ashkenazic Jewry’s assimilation over the past 3 centuries. If we can learn to live as Torah Jews without these, the whole Jewish world would be greatly improved. He really is a good man trying to help the Jewish people – don’t believe anything else. It is very telling that we presume to know his ‘real’ intentions…let’s stop fighting the 19th century war with the maskilim and realise that today the world is much more complex, people are not simple and unambiguous; someone can be good and bad intended in the same day…

  9. How kind of that nice of Mr Lapid not to accuse european intellectuals such as myself of anti-Semitism, nor bias, but only of laziness. On this sunny day, here in Paris, I can drink my coffee and enjoy a croissant and feel much better about myself, safe in the knowledge of his infallible judgement. He need not ever again fear anyone calling him an intellectual, let alone accuse him of having any bias, although there maybe a case for pointing out some laziness in his thinking. We so called enlightened people make a difference between Palestinians and Hamas living in Gaza. Not all of the first belong to the second, although as a result of recent events, I am sure their support has increased. When the Nazis bombed London and Warsaw, support of the national government of those cities increased dramatically, but I imagine there was no reason to think the same would happen to people in Gaza, or even in Ashkelon, or Tel Aviv. What is not explained from the Israeli side is why it continued to fire on terrorists using missiles when there would clearly be civilian casualties and especially when directed at hospitals and UN sites, while at the same time making use of the excellent Iron Dome system? There was no need for it. It would have given Israel the moral high ground had they not fired and pointed it out to the world’s media. It isn’t as if Israel did not have alternatives, both militarily and politically. Instead the impression is given that Israel is behaving like a bully. Instead of David as in the 6 Day War, it has become Goliath. I wonder what ever happened to him? I really must look it up, but its so nice sipping at my coffee in the sunshine and you know how lazy we intellectuals can be.

  10. To number 11,
    He wants to help charedim?!? How ignorant can one be? Even if he wanted to, he is completely unqualified anyway. The man is a complete boor. He has one agenda: destroy yiddishkeit.I saw an interview with his Pop, and let me tell you, if the son is anything like the father, oyoyoyoy !!!

  11. To number 13,
    Are you are certain he wants to destroy yiddishkeit? Because when you ask him (him, not his father) he says that he wants to help yiddishkeit. Again, we need to get over the persecution complex, thinking that everyone is out to get us…The truth is that he has many agendas, unless u really believe he wakes up every day and says, today i will destroy yiddishkeit…enough with your unintelligent hyperbole – if you are sure of what you say, then stand up in a beis din and makes a shevua that this man is trying to destroy yiddishkeit. On your testimony, the beis din can work out the correct halachic response.

  12. DRL,
    You can call it hyperbole. You can say that I need to make a shvua to verify what I say. But what we are talking about is giving credence to a man who has ceaselessly tried to lessen the limud hatorah in EY. He talks about the national obligation to serve in the army, when he himself never did.When Gedolim are up in arms about what he is trying to do, that should tell you something. He also happens to have no credentials as a finance minister or anything else besides criticizing the religious. When I wrote that he has no credentials I meant that he’s a high school dropout who regularly demonstrates his ignorance about finance and anything else he sticks his nose into. And, to be honest, you are demonstrating your ignorance by calling it a persecution complex. For the religious Jew being moser nefesh for Torah is the crown of all achievements.

  13. To no.15,

    If I may be permitted to articulate your position further; your closest biblical model would be Pinchas, who heroically stood against the public desecration of God’s name and against a sin that had the potential to erode the brit between Hashem and Klal Yisroel. I believe your position is that Yair Lapid stands in breach similarly, and his opinions challenge the very integrity and existence of Torah Jewry.

  14. I’m just going to go all out and claim that DRL is really dov lipman, i’m sorry, you can’t just come here and de-legitimize the Torah worlds and rabbinic response to Lapid as “persecution complex” that is so disingenuous.

  15. I am not Dov Lipman, I live in Eretz Yisroel, I was born in London…to clarify my view on Lapid, I believe his policies are misguided…at the same time:

    – I do not presume his intentions are to destroy the Torah world
    – I believe he values Torah learning, albeit not as we do; for him it may be more about cultural scholarship
    – I am not filled with anger
    – I believe we must be more much careful in our judgments of people outside our community, they do not understand us and we do not understand them

    The Rambam explains how Avodas Hashem and Avodah Zara stem from the same source in the spheres. The difference being that authentic worship travels first to the intellect and only then creates representations in our imagination. Avodah Zara, on the other hand, skips out our intellectual curiosity and immediately sends representations into our imagination. The Rambam also says that the massess presume that what is in their minds was also in the mind of Chazal.

    If we are going to define Lapid as a rasha, then it must be a halakhic definition, otherwise we risk validating our own undisciplined impulses and turning them into a virtue…

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