With about 36 hours until polls open for Netanyahu vs Feiglin Round IV, I find myself fending off attacks from those who essentially agree with Feiglin about everything, but don’t support him because they think he’ll destroy the Likud if elected. It’s not that these people don’t believe in Feiglin. They don’t believe in the Jewish Nation’s ability to redeem itself.
They tell me that only a Feiglin fanatic could possibly believe that the Likud would gain seats if headed by Feiglin. These types of people have their political beliefs which I may agree with, but they have no faith in the Jewish People. I believe in the Jewish People because I know and understand Jewish history. Feiglin is just a guy like everyone else. Nothing really that special about him, except he’s doing the work everyone else shied away from. It’s the Jewish People that are special.
I also know and understand our role in our own history and what that role should be. When this People is finally presented a real leadership that can take its potential and broadcast it to the world, we will all wake up. If you have a strictly religious personality and Judaism is a personal religion to you and nothing more, you will not support Feiglin, no matter how much you agree with him. You will think that what he represents is pure fantasy, and you will refuse to vote for him under any circumstances. You will ignore poll numbers that say if he wins Likud will gain strength.
Chazal say that the first question one is asked after death is, “Were you honest with money?” That I can understand. It’s very hard to be honest with money. But the third question is “Did you believe in redemption?”
Why should that be the third question? Who doesn’t believe in redemption? Why is it so hard to believe that the Jews will be redeemed?
It’s not hard to say you believe it. It’s really hard to act accordingly. You only believe something if you are willing and ready to act on that belief. If you believe in the concept of Jewish redemption, you believe in Feiglin’s candidacy. You don’t know how he will win in the end, but you do know one thing with spiritual certainty, and that is this: When the Jewish People are presented the choice, for REAL, they will choose the path of redemption. They will choose Feiglin’s path.
This election on Tuesday is just one more step in that direction. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know how much Feiglin will get, and I don’t know all the things Netanyahu has up his sleeve and how much he will cheat.
But I know we are doing the right thing and that this is inevitable. Israel will have Jewish leadership. So if you don’t support Feiglin but you agree with him, I ask you this question, and I’m quoting that guy who shot Sean Connery in Indiana Jones III and looked at Harrison Ford and said this:
It’s time you ask yourself WHAT YOU BELIEVE.
May God give us all the help we need and the strength to continue and fight this to the very end.
This interview first appeared in the January 20th addition of Olam Katan, a religious Zionist publication. Those getting their political science major can get some insights from Feiglin’s point of view. What follows is an original translation by World of Judaica.
They’re Not Laughing Anymore – An Interview with Moshe Feiglin
Oftentimes it seemed that the hardest thing to listen to for the last 13 years has been his complete and utter seriousness while demanding “Faith-based leadership for Israel.” In the end, maybe this makes even us, the religious Zionists, nervous • Moshe Feiglin is running alone against Benjamin Netanyahu for leadership of the Likud. The results of these primaries, even if they don’t end in a victory for him, will still be enough to bring this man’s vision one step closer to reality • Moshe Feiglin answers all the questions you ever wanted to ask – to what extent he believes in his goal. How younger Knesset Members have overtaken him. Why is it that it’s hardest for religious people to come to terms with Jewish Leadership. What mistakes does he admit and what does he remain stubborn about • The Big Race
A long time ago they were sure that he would eventually give up, that the process had exhausted itself and that he himself already understood this. After the 2006 elections when the Likud won only 12 seats, the pundits mocked him saying that according to the “influence from within the centers of power” logic of Manhigut Yehudit, Feiglin now had to leave Likud and go to Kadima. After he failed to attain a Knesset seat in 2009, they came down hard on him. The religious columnists specifically lambasted him for his arrogance in running for the Likud leadership time and again, on the non-politically-correct “we have come to replace you” approach against the present Likud leadership. They claimed that Olmert became prime minister only because of him.
And despite all this, as the sand continues to blow, Moshe Feiglin (50) is back, running yet again, this time as the only candidate, this time against a sitting prime minister. In political terms this would be considered suicide, but that’s nothing for Feiglin. This is already his fourth time. The first time, 9 years ago, then again running against a sitting prime minister, he got 3.5% of the vote. Two years later he got 12.5%. In 2007, Likud had primaries once again, where he was granted nearly a quarter of the Likud vote. In Jerusalem, the biggest branch of the ruling party, he got nearly 40% of the vote. He could have even gotten a larger portion, but Netanyahu and his men made a herculean effort to bring their supporters to the polls in order to prevent Feiglin from winning the capital city. Not to mention that in other cities as well that are certainly not settlements, Feiglin achieved impressive results. In Gadera, for example, he got 38% of the vote. In Beit Shemesh, 31%. Yavne, 28%, and even in Haifa he reached 26% support.
They claim that only because of him and Manhigut Yehudit, Sharon decided to leave the Likud and establish Kadima. That Manhigut Yehudit was the only thing preventing the inventor of the concept of Disengagement from taking over Menahem Begin’s historic movement. For these primaries, by the way, he comes armed with surprisingly supportive statements from a Leftist icon, Avrum Burg. Burg, on the “Head to Head” television program on the Knesset channel, said last month that “The only man that presents a serious alternative, and puts forth an organized and relevant political philosophy that is worth contending with and presents a real challenge for us, is Moshe Feiglin.” The conversation we had was a bit harried, since Feiglin was invited to a political event in the Israeli Arab village of Bara. Many Likud voters he probably did not find there, but then again the man is trying to lead the whole country.
Two weeks before primaries where his raising his support level yet again is a real possibility, as the step he told us all to take 13 years ago – joining the Likud party – is making more and more waves in the religious Zionist sector, he is still convinced that a faith based candidacy for leadership of the country is the only viable path capable of stopping the oncoming flood.
Q. Many have followed you into the Likud, and almost all of them have already overtaken you. Hotobeli, Edelstein, and Elkin are all religious Zionists that got close to the leadership thanks in no small part to Manhigut Yehudit voters. They found their way into the coalition table and they are very well liked, while you are excluded.
A. If I would have worked in the normal accepted manner that seeks to get immediate political dividends, no one would have overtaken me, but I insist on remembering the reason I joined the Likud in the first place. Not to be a Knesset Member or even a Minister, but to point the whole country toward one true, large and substantive goal. Light at the end of the tunnel, rather than a rearguard war that many good people in the religious Zionist community are fighting. For the sake of the truth, when I joined politics 13 years ago, there were already many knitted kippot in the crowd, with religious Knesset members and religiously observant ministers. In that sense, the situation has not changed all that much.
My eyes are turned towards the final goal, and because of this there are weights on my legs that may seem to weigh me down in a personal sense from attaining political posts. But in reality, these aren’t weights, but wings I am not willing to cut. I could have said that I would no longer run for the party leadership, that I already did what I had to do, but that would have made the whole revolution culminate in something of a new National Religious Party, this time within the Likud. While true that we did succeed in getting the faith-based public into the Likud, which is something very important that I do not belittle for a second, I will not allow a situation in which we are in the same sectorial politics, but this time within the ruling party. I’m not interested in yet another knitted kippah in the Knesset, even if underneath that kippah is the name of Moshe Feiglin. The goal is to lay out a faith based alternative to lead Israel. This is a goal that cannot be accomplished without a conscious decision to run for the country’s leadership, so that the light will not be extinguished, so that there will still be light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s funny. People that fought against me from every podium when I joined the Likud are now in the Likud and continuing to fight me from within. Effi Etam (former leader of the National Religious Party) and Benny Elon (former member of the National Union) already admitted that I was right, but I’m sad to say that even after they’ve said this, many of us still do not have the courage to come and take the truth to its logical endpoint like I’m doing. I didn’t come to the Likud to save the settlements, even though it’s true that from within the Likud there is a stronger power base to accomplish this than there is in the sectorial parties.
They tell me, “You’re trying to fill shoes that are too big for you,” and I answer, “So come with me and then I’ll have bigger shoes!” The coming elections will be decided by 15,000 votes. The gap between me and Netanyahu last time was about 17,000 votes. If the people that tell me I’m trying to fill shoes that are too big for me would have joined Likud, I would have had no problem winning the party’s leadership by now. More than that though, there would have been no problem changing the entire direction of the Return to Zion from Zionism that keeps God out of the picture, to Zionism with the vision of “The Mountain of the Lord is the highest of all Mountains.” The settlement pioneers that ran to Judea and Samaria in the spirit of Rav Kook have been inundated with hardships and trudging through day-to-day affairs, and are incapable of putting forward such a vision.
But sometimes the arrogance of running against a sitting Prime Minister without even the success of first being elected a Knesset member makes for a very strange impression. Wouldn’t it be better to be satisfied with less declarations, superlatives and unwinnable candidacies and to focus in the meantime on less ambitious goals? We all want there to be Jewish leadership, but the way it’s being done seems too belligerent, a bit pompous.
Let’s not forget that thanks to great arrogance we have made great achievements like the wave of religious Zionists joining the Likud. Had I not dared to run for leadership of the party, such a change in consciousness would never have occurred. The language that changes consciousness is not spoken with lips, but with legs. We codified our vision in the “Lehat’hila” journal long before we joined the Likud, but until the point where we began to walk the walk of politics and put our hat in the leadership ring, it didn’t have any real effect on the nation’s consciousness. Many a good man before us tried to convince the right wing to join the Likud, and the fact is they only succeeded in signup up a few people. The fact is, they were not able to convince the public to follow them, and the reason is that the public follows a vision, and not simple tactical moves. Manhigut Yehudit put forward that vision, and from that moment people began to join the Likud through other avenues besides us as well.
Religious People with Little Faith
But nevertheless, do results not matter? After 13 years, you got to 23% of the party vote, and you have yet to become a Knesset member. At this rate it will take another 40 years to become the party leader. And even if theoretically you do beat Netanyahu one day, he’ll leave the party the same day and everyone will follow him. Everyone understands that the true Likud is no longer here.
When my family came to Israel 120 years ago, everyone was still in Belarus and shook their heads at that one rich Jew that decided to take his successful family to a barren wasteland. It was the craziest and most illogical thing to do. But at the end of the day, since it was the right thing to do, the realistic thing to do, that is to say it was God’s Will, because of that, we – his descendants – live here, and we all know what happened to those who stayed behind. We believe that the Third Return to Zion will not be undone, that the Holy One Blessed Be He isn’t joking around with us only to return us back to exile. And since the State of Israel will continue to exist, it cannot be anything but a State that fulfills the will of God. That is to say, and the end of the day, this country must have faith-based leadership. The only question is, what part will we take in this story.
Actually, I’m doing exactly what my grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather did, meaning what I believe the Will of God to be. Anyone who refuses to join us is, in practice, delaying the development of Jewish leadership for the State of Israel, he’s the one that is unrealistic, refusing to develop, he’s the one that I’m sad to say will pay the price. God wills that this country have Jewish leadership. There is no other possibility.
Who knows what God’s will is? The Holy One Blessed Be He also destroyed Gush Katif and brought us the Holocaust.
In truth, I don’t know how long it will take before our victory becomes actualized. Just like the Wright brothers who thought up the idea that a body heavier than air could fly, tried a hundred times to build it and they all crashed. But in the end it flew. And the very second it began to fly, all of the 100 failures became part of the ultimate success. Understand what kind of success it was when in the last primaries nearly a quarter of the Likud membership – not the NRP or the National Union – a quarter of the membership of the biggest political party in Israel voted for me. I surpassed all the senior ministers, Uzi Landau, Yisrael Katz…I surpassed Shaul Mofaz, which is why he left to Kadima.
For whatever reason, the Likudniks don’t ask themselves these types of questions you’re asking me. The ones who ask me, and weak of faith they are in this case, are specifically the religious ones, and I must say, it frustrates me to a great deal. There’s a process going on here where specifically the ones who are supposed to believe that “the redemption of Israel happens slowly but surely” find it difficult to understand for some reason. We’re in the middle of a necessarily inevitable victory, a process that can’t NOT win according to our worldview. If you’re a leftist and you think the country is going to be destroyed because of what we’re doing and that we’re promoting national disintegration and destruction, then fine. But if you understand that we are in the process of redemption, then I simply don’t understand how it’s possible NOT to understand the implications of my candidacy. Manhigut Yehudit is continually gaining strength, and even the Prime Minister is showing through his behavior how much he is stressed out by my progress.
Your book “Where There are No Men” is a book on the revolutionary period of your Zo Artzeinu Movement during the Oslo Accords. Maybe it was better back then, as a protest movement outside the political realm?
For me personally it was a lot more fun back then. It was fun being a child with no responsibility. There’s nothing easier than blocking a highway, sitting in jail and reaping the fruits of praise. My position in Zo Artzeinu was a springboard for me that I could have used for a soft landing into politics all for myself, but I understood that that wouldn’t accomplish a thing. We don’t lack knitted kippot in politics. We lack men with vision who are actually trying to achieve that vision, showing the public that its leaders are taking them in the wrong direction and showcase an alternative. It’s one or the other: Either we don’t have an alternative to the current reality, and then the question arises as to why we’re complaining about Barak, Sharon and the rest, or we have an alternative – and then it has to come together with contending for the leadership of the country.
I’ve learned this from the Israeli Left. The Leftists were never a majority in Israel, so how did it happen that their ideology set the Israeli reality? Very simple. They were not satisfied with putting up a bunch of settlements, meaning Kibbutzim and their own communities. The immediately translated their ideology into public policy and ran for leadership of the country. They had a leadership consciousness. By us, however, nothing of the sort has ever over crossed the boundary of private or local community-based belief to the point of national leadership. The Right does not lack protest movements. This is not what I was looking for. I was looking for a solution. A faith-based alternative to the whole process of collapse that we find ourselves in.
If the 3% of radical leftists were able to take control of the Zionist enterprise in the 20’s and 30’s because they had a vision, and then succeeded in directing the entire process of the Return to Zion to one that has no God, that leaves God aside, why aren’t we capable of initiating the reverse? The answer is that we don’t believe in ourselves enough. We don’t believe that our Torah is relevant, and worst of all – we don’t believe in the Nation of Israel and its uniqueness.
And I’m telling you that the Nation of Israel is waiting and anticipating this kind of message with baited breath. You see it in the music that is becoming more and more faith-based, in the culture that is turning into this, in the yearning for a return to family values…you have no idea how many times this comes up in the polls again and again. You see that the Nation of Israel wants to be Jewish, so why are we afraid of giving it to them, giving them leadership that can provide it? Why do we continually place ourselves in the role of barking at the passing convoy? Why are we afraid to think big?
They’re afraid? No, We’re Afraid.
I hear people say that there’s nothing to be worried about. That we just have to stand our ground in Judea and Samaria and we’ll fight tactical wars where we need to and we’ll vote for the least bad candidate and the situation will somehow work itself out in our favor. We saw in the Disengagement where such thinking leads. In an overall sense, we’re in a process of redemption, but in the immediate sense, the State of Israel is being led by forces that do not share our beliefs. Therefore, it follows necessarily that if there won’t be Jewish leadership, the Disengagement will have a bitter sequel. I’m not saying this in order to scare anybody, but from a very simple dialectical analysis. If you don’t present an alternative, there is a limit to how many fingers you can put in the dike in order to stop the raging waters.
What’s your opinion on Rabbinic leadership and the general leadership of the religious Zionist sector?
I respect them very much. They’re doing work one can only admire. It pains me a little that I’m seen as one who doesn’t know how to value the efforts of Torah based groups, or love of Israel that organizations like Tzohar effectively demonstrate. It’s simply untrue. I know how to value and even admire these people.
On the other hand, I must say that I only say what I think is true. Of course with love, an embrace, but the truth must be spoken. I am against blurring identity in order to preserve unity. In Manhigut Yehudit I see declared secularists, even atheists, and on the other hand I see Ultra Orthodox. On either side, saying the truth doesn’t scare them. I learned that when you speak the truth with conviction and humility, it doesn’t scare people away. Those who really listen can value it.
What do you think about Yair Lapid joining politics?
He’s a ratings candidate. Shelli Yechimovich’s candidacy I saw in a positive light, since she expresses a coherent philosophy, even if it’s dangerous in my opinion, and the impression I get is that she actually believes what she says. This is a type of politics that is absent in Israel, and I do not see this in Lapid. I certainly don’t see it in Noam Shalit, a man that did not contribute a thing to Israeli society but exacted a terrible price from it, and he’s coming into politics off the back of the fact that he was able to take a lot. Lapid and Shalit symbolize bad politics in my opinion. I’m more comfortable talking with an ideological enemy with a consistent philosophy.
Netanyahu knows that the map with the correct destination the country has to go in and will in the end arrive at, is in my hands and yours. Journalists always ask me why he’s so afraid of me, and the answer is that this is exactly what he’s afraid of. He knows very well and understands the potential of Manhigut Yehudit, seemingly even better than all of my voters. The fact is that the public is divided between those that love me and those that deeply hate me, but nobody’s laughing at me. Deep down, the public knows that there’s something very very real going on here.
Let’s see what happens baby! The guy can run, but he can’t hide! Let him run away. His little cronies will follow, but the nation of Israel will NOT.
Barak is heating things up
Ehud Barak understands that it will be very difficult for Netanyahu to grant him and his friends political refuge in Likud. So he’s started taking down outposts. Every week another outpost, and it’s done with brutality, with the goal being short political gain: the angrier the religious Zionists get, the more they’ll turn to Feiglin. This way, with low voter turnout, Feiglin may get more than 30% of the vote, and could even approach 40%.
Such a scenario would be a political earthquake for Netanyahu and he wouldn’t be able to accept a situation where Feiglin became such a threat. So there may be a scenario in which Netanyahu would split the Likud but keep the Likud name in that when he leaves, most of the faction if not all of it would leave with him. Since they would be able to keep the name “Likud” without the baggage of the party’s institutions or the danger of the “knitted kipot” taking over the party and its next Knesset list.
In two weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be defending his title as Likud Party Chairman against challenger Moshe Feiglin. Polls show Netanyahu winning, but that may not be enough for Israel’s Prime Minister. A poll conducted by Israeli polling company Ma’agar Mochot has Mr. Feiglin polling at about 26% support among Likud members not affiliated with Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership faction. With Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership faction numbering about 9% of the overall Likud membership, this brings his total support to about 35% in the party, Netanyahu at 51%, and 14% undecided or unsure.
The question asked in the poll leading to these statistics was worded as follows. The poll surveyed Likud members who voted in the last two Likud primaries: Do you agree or disagree with the point that it is important to vote for Moshe Feiglin in the upcoming primaries, even though it is clear that Benjamin Netanyahu will win, just so that the right wing inside Likud will gain strength?
26% either “agree” or “definitely agree” with that statement, while 14% are unsure or undecided.
According to the grassroots Likud website likudnik.co.il, Feiglin even has a chance of beating Netanyahu within the Likud Druze sector, which is known to be very right wing in its political leanings. Another grassroots site, likudshely.co.il, is reporting a widespread phenomenon of Netanyahu supporters refusing to turn out for him in protest, or even pledging to vote Feiglin in an act of defiance over Netanyahu’s refusal to legalize outposts in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu’s refusal to support a bill requiring nominees to Israel’s Supreme Court to undergo confirmation hearings by the Knesset has also angered the party base, as have his attempts to secure former Labor Party leader Ehud Barak a slot on the upcoming Likud Knesset roster.
If Feiglin’s faction comes out on January 31st with a strong turnout in addition to these numbers, he has a fair chance of even reaching the 40% threshold and seriously embarrassing Netanyahu. Whether Netanyahu can maintain his hegemony in the party if Feiglin wins such a large percentage of the Likud electorate remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the Feiglin camp is organizing a day of donations for his campaign on January 18th.
I was hitching a ride to work today as I often do, and army radio was playing. They were talking about the upcoming Likud primaries and why Netanyahu put the Likud chairmanship up for grabs. One of the talking heads said something like this:
“Likud is very unlike the other parties because in Likud you generally do not run against a popular party leader. In Likud, it’s better to be on the leader’s side than against him.”
I was in the back seat, smiling wryly at the cute, clueless little pundits. “Tell that to Feiglin,” I murmured in the backseat, in Hebrew, hoping the driver would hear me and take the bait.
He didn’t even have to. Five seconds later, Moshe was already on the air, talking to the cute, clueless little pundits. “Hello Mr. Feiglin,” the pundit began.
“Hello hello,” Moshe responded, as always. And then, the predictable, ever-repeated, boring clueless-little-pundit question:
“Why are you running, Mr. Feiglin? You have no chance of winning.”
At this point, my wry little smile widened to an all out grin. I love this stuff!
When Moshe’s time was up, my ride starting talking. “Feiglin failed. He’s been failing for over 10 years. He won’t win,” he said. I became annoyed…for about 3 seconds. But then I asked him the following question:
“Are you a Likud member?”
“No, of course not,” he said.
“Well,” I said, “Then what does your opinion matter? You can’t even vote in this election.”
That’s when I realized, all the naysayers, all the people that keep saying over and over and over again that Jewish leadership is impossible, that Israel is condemned to be the world’s doormat forever, they are all out of this game. They don’t matter, because they’ve willingly silenced themselves by refusing to play. They never joined Likud, and are therefore irrelevant. The only people that matter are the Likud members, and those are the ones who DO believe, which is why they joined the game in the first place. This is why we will win. Everyone and everything else that says we can’t, the cute little clueless radio pundits and the nice driver guy, are just background noise who have no vote.
The most difficult dialectic in Judaism, I believe, is that between the inexorability of redemption and the Divine command to redeem ourselves. Why should we do anything if redemption is inevitable anyway? The answer is that it is not inevitable that the redemption of the Jewish people will just happen out of thin air. Rather, it is inevitable that the Jewish people will, as a nation, answer that Divine command and redeem themselves.
Over the next month and a half, Moshe Feiglin and the rest of us who believe in a real Jewish State, in our Jewish identities, and in the Jewish People’s destiny to repair the world under God, will have the wonderful opportunity to once again speak to this Nation. To explain to her that we are sick and tired of measuring the “strength” of our leadership by the amount of time it takes them to put out a diplomatic fire, or by how quickly they can appease Turkey before we lose another “ally,” or by how quickly he can scrounge up UN votes to scuttle yet another meaningless international condemnation and score another “victory” for the “proud” Jews.
To tell this People that we believe in them, we believe in our nation, we believe in ourselves and our duty to live in the land that God gave us, our right and duty to worship freely on our Holy Temple Mount, our Divine charge to speak to the Western civilization we, as Jews, gave birth to. A world now mired in profound economic and spiritual confusion, a world we must equip with spiritual and moral guidance where it is so sorely needed.
It will be a fun, exciting, therapeutic, even cathartic battle for both sides. We need to be calm and understand that nobody in the nationalist camp actually disagrees with us. Some simply don’t believe a destiny-driven Jewish existence is possible.
We will tell them, once again, that it is. And not only that, but that it is inevitable. Not that it will just happen randomly when the Divine egg-timer in the sky happens to go *bing*, but that it is inevitable that we will rise up as a nation and redeem ourselves, and God will be there with us when we do.
The only question is, are you, as a human being with free will, going to be part of it? Our numbers have gone way up since the last time Moshe ran in 2007, and all the naysayers can’t even vote. Don’t be distracted by the naysayers. They are just that: they have no say. They’re not in the game.
But you do have a say. If you want it. Go to Jewishisrael.org now and donate. Help us wake this People up and let’s show the world what the Jewish People can do!