Lapid, Yosef "Tommy" (1931–)

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LAPID, YOSEF "TOMMY" (1931–)

Israeli politician. Born as Tomislav Lampel in Novi Sad, on the border of Hungary and Yugoslavia, Yosef "Tommy" Lapid immigrated with his mother to Israel in 1948, after his father was abducted and murdered by Nazis. A journalist by profession, who also holds a law degree, Lapid first came to public attention as a regular panelist on the talk show Pop-Politika. There, he would verbally attack political guests and even fellow journalists, actions that gave him a reputation for being outspoken. In March 1999, the then-sixty-eight-year-old was approached by Shinui Party leader Avraham Poraz to take his place as party head in the Knesset. Under Lapid, the party stressed its opposition to ultra-Orthodox parties and legislation. Lapid has served on various committees, including Foreign Affairs and Defense, Constitution, Law and Justice, and the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee for the Location and Restitution of Property of Holocaust Victims. In February 2003, Lapid gained greater popularity as the appointed minister of justice and deputy prime minister. Some commentators considered him a rival to Ariel Sharon, particularly after allegations of corruption were leveled against Sharon in early 2003.

SEE ALSO Sharon, Ariel.