LAPID, JOSEPH (Tomi; 1931– ), journalist and politician, member of the Knesset in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Knesset. Lapid was born in the town of Novi Sad in the former Yugoslavia. His father perished in a concentration camp. His mother escaped with him to Budapest, and they managed to survive the Holocaust, immigrating to Israel in 1948. Upon arrival in Israel Lapid enlisted in the IDF, serving as a technician. After completing his military service he studied for a law degree at Tel Aviv University. While still a student he started working at the Hungarian-language daily Ui Kelet. Several years later he joined the staff of the Maariv daily, working at first as the private secretary of its editor in chief, Ezriel *Carlebach, later becoming a reporter, writing a column, and serving as the paper's correspondent in London. In 1979 Lapid was appointed director general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority – the first director general appointed by the Likud after the political upheaval of 1977. He served in this capacity until 1984. In 1985 he established the Liberal Center Party with Shlomo *Lahat and served as its secretary general. The party was never elected to the Knesset, and in 1988 he resigned from it and became chairman of the Association of Cable Television, in which capacity he served until 1994. Throughout this period he continued to write for Maariv and appeared on radio and television programs. Before the elections for the Fifteenth Knesset he joined Shinui as the revived party's chairman, after MK Avraham Poraz broke away from Meretz, and set up a parliamentary group with MK Eliezer Sandberg from Tzomet. Under Lapid's charismatic leadership, a strong secularist platform, and heavy criticism of the ḥaredi parties, Shinui received six seats in the Fifteenth Knesset, and fifteen in the Sixteenth. In the Fifteenth Knesset Lapid served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee. He was also a member of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry on the Issue of Locating and Restoring the Assets of Holocaust Victims – a committee that finally submitted its report in December 2004.
After the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset Lapid favored the formation of a secular government made up of the *Likud, the *Israel Labor Party, and Shinui, but Labor's leader, MK Amram Mitzna, refused to join a Likud-led government. In the government formed by Ariel *Sharon with Shinui, the NRP, and the National Union Lapid became deputy prime minister and minister of justice. However, in December 2004 the Shinui ministers were fired from the government by Sharon, since they refused to support the budget in the Knesset, even though they supported Sharon's disengagement plan. Poor showings in the polls and a rebellion of Shinui's young guard caused Lapid to quit the party and leave politics before the 2006 elections.
In addition to writing for the daily press, Lapid published numerous books, wrote several plays, and served as the chairman of the Israeli Chess Association. He is married to the author Shulamit *Lapid and is the father of Israeli writer and TV personality Ya'ir Lapid.
Lapid was an accomplished humorist and published, among other things, collections of his newspaper columns and works such as Anashim Ḥashuvim Me'od: Me'ah Ra'ayonot ve-Humor Elef ("Very Important People: One Hundred Interviews and Lots of Humor," 1963); Shi'urim be-Tikshoret ("Lessons in Communications," 2000); Mashehu Hishtabesh ("Something Has Gone Wrong," 2001); a cookbook with Ruth Sirkis, Paprika: Kasher (1986), and numerous guidebooks for European countries in the years 1970–2003.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.