I voted for Yesh Atid in each of the last two Israeli elections. I did so because the party positioned itself as a centrist party.
Unfortunately, after dropping to 11 seats, Yair Lapid came to the conclusion that if he wanted to realize his dream of being Prime Minister of Israel, he was going to have to "re-brand" himself and his party.
For the past year, Lapid has gone to great efforts to show that he can be just as "tough" as the Likud. The most blatant example of this – and for me the straw that broke the camel's back – was his call last week for the Knesset to pass a bill that Yesh Atid is co-sponsoring, which "will allow the Israeli government to expel the families of terrorists".
The idea of punishing someone for a crime committed by their relatives is blatantly immoral. It is quite shocking to me that a party that still calls itself centrist can support the idea of punishing someone for a crime that they did not commit or facilitate in any way.
There may be differences of opinion regarding the effectiveness of "expelling" a terrorist's relatives – but that is irrelevant. "The ends justify the means" is an approach characteristic of right-wing groups (and often far-left groups as well). If you're going to accept violations of basic rights because "it works", you cannot really consider yourself centrist in any way, nor can you really claim to believe in democracy.
I realize that when it comes to Arabs on the other side of "the green line", many Israelis think that the concept of civil rights is irrelevant since they are not citizens of Israel. But there can be no greater admission than this that over the past 49 years, Israel has become a pseudo-democracy (or some form of Athenian democracy).
Israelis and supporters of Israel can continue patting themselves on the back on Facebook, comparing Israel's civil rights record to that of countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia. But the very fact that we are comparing ourselves to such regimes is an embarrassment.
It is legitimate for Yair Lapid to want to be Prime Minister. It is legitimate for Yesh Atid to decide it wants to be Likud II, offering an alternative to the Likud for mainstream right-wing voters. In fact, given the stranglehold that Netanyahu has over the Likud, it might be a good thing for Lapid to provide such an alternative.
But it is high time that Lapid and Yesh Atid stopped pretending that they are a centrist party. They may have been when they started, but that is not where they are today.
It's time for Lapid to end the charade. And it's time for Yesh Atid voters to decide if they want to keep supporting a different flavor of the Likud, or if the time has come to look for a party that has a different vision for the future of Israel.