Former Israeli Cabinet minister Joseph Lapid dies

By ARON HELLER – 8 hours ago

JERUSALEM (AP) — Joseph Lapid, a former justice minister, journalist and outspoken critic of Israel’s Orthodox religious establishment, died Sunday after a long bout with cancer. He was 77.

A Holocaust survivor, Lapid was one of Israel’s most prominent print journalists and notable TV personalities, renowned for his sharp tongue, acerbic pen and dry wit.

Lapid was born Tomislav Lampel in 1930 in the former Yugoslavia to Hungarian parents. The family was seized by the Nazis when Lapid was a child and he spent the war in the Budapest ghetto. He survived with his mother and emigrated to Israel in 1948.

Lapid, known by his nickname “Tommy,” went on to become a prominent journalist and later the director general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. He was also a regular panelist on a popular TV news show, where he became notorious for his outspoken, and colorful, opposition to religious coercion in Israel.

In 1999, he entered politics as head of the secularist Shinui Party. He led the party to a surprise performance in 2003 elections, gathering 15 seats in the 120-seat Knesset and securing him the post of justice minister under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.