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Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Likud's treatment of Feiglin says about Likud

Last week, I mentioned the story of Binyamin Netanyahu's irrational hatred for Moshe Feiglin and how he caused Feiglin to be pushed down on the Likud Knesset list. Two other potential MK's were pushed down with Feiglin. While Feiglin refused to appeal to the courts, one of the other affected candidates, Michael Ratzon, has appealed to the courts after the Likud's internal tribunal refused to restore him to his former position. Ratzon, who opposed Ariel Sharon's expulsion of the Jews from Gaza when Sharon was part of the Likud, has vowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court with his appeal. And Feiglin may yet benefit.

Over the weekend, Amotz Asael, a generally rational but very much politically middle-of-the-road JPost columnist, castigated the Likud for not having expelled Feiglin long ago. Reading Asael's arguments has made me start to re-think (and I invite you all to join me) whether I should be a member of the Likud.
According to his Hebrew Web site, [Feiglin] believes in loyalty to the Torah, itself an inclination alien to the Likud's original inspiration, Vladimir Jabotinsky. Moreover, even within the narrow confines of Orthodoxy, Feiglin addresses what he calls the emuni public as his hard-core constituency, which is code language for a theology that believes in the Jewish state's divinity, and yearns for the day when it is led either by rabbis or people agreeable to them.

That's not Likud. Such an outlook, quite regardless of what Feiglin intends to make (or break) of the Arabs, can fit with the ultra-nationalist religious parties. Likud's founders, from Menachem Begin and Elimelech Rimalt to Ariel Sharon and Yigael Hurvitz, did not see things this way and neither did their voters. That's why they didn't vote for religious parties. Jabotinsky, a disciple of liberal nationalism's prophet Giuseppe Mazzini, was in fact so secular that he even mulled replacing the Hebrew alphabet with Latin characters. In fact, at one point, in 1931, he shunned an alliance with Orthodox Zionism that could have secured him the leadership of the Zionist movement. Jabotinsky believed in a firm separation of religion and state, as did his disciples, even if while building coalitions they had to compromise this principle.
I happen to disagree with Asael's assessment of Menachem Begin (whom I met 32 years ago at an OU convention in the US). Begin was very much a traditionalist. In fact, foreign dignitaries were absent from Begin's funeral because he insisted on it being held the day after he passed away. Begin also insisted in being buried in the religious cemetery on the Mount of Olives and not with the 'nation's founders' on Mount Herzl. But Asael may well be right about the Jabotinsky and Rimalt and Hurvitz - and he is certainly correct about Sharon - so my points about Begin are not sufficient to refute Asael's argument.
Now one wonders: Do a candidate's views matter less the lower he is on a candidate list? Would, for instance, United Torah Judaism ever think of placing in its 36th slot someone who eats pork and preaches premarital sex, just because there is no chance he will be elected? Of course it wouldn't, because UTJ knows full well what it stands for and will not compromise it, even seemingly, theoretically or momentarily. Can the Likud say the same about itself? Will, then, the soon-to-be ruling party tell us, at least now, just what it meant in its decision to neither digest nor vomit its elected No. 20 candidate, Moshe Feiglin?
Asael is certainly correct about UTJ. Assuming that Asael is correct about the Likud's philosophy, do I really belong there? Okay, maybe my presence there is a matter of expediency and it's that expediency that drove Feiglin in the first place: The odds of a Prime Minister coming from any party other than Likud, Labor or Kadima at present is slim to none, and the best way for someone to become Prime Minister is to take over one of those parties. That argues for me voting in the Likud primary. It certainly does not argue for me voting for Likud in the general election, especially when Feiglin and his followers have been pushed to unrealistic positions on the list.

So to those of you who disagreed with my earlier post in which I said I had no intention of voting for Likud after the way Netanyahu treated Feiglin, here's some more food for thought. If Asael is right (and again, I cannot refute him), I don't belong ideologically in the Likud.

Here's some more food for thought. Several years ago, I was talking with one of my son's Rabbis at a wedding. The Rabbi told me that his father was a follower of the Minchas Yitzchok, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Weiss when both the Minchas Yitzchok and the father were living in England. Later, both moved to Israel, and Rav Weiss became the chief judge of the Rabbinical Court of the Eda Charedis, an anti-Zionist Charedi ('ultra-Orthodox') organization. The Rabbi's father asked the Minchas Yitzchok for whom to vote in the election. The Minchas Yitzchok told him to vote for any religious party. The Rabbi's father responded, "but Rebbe, I see advertisements from you urging people not to vote in the elections at all." (As a true anti-Zionist organization, the Eda opposes participation in the elections). Rav Weiss answered him, "that's for them. But for you, you should vote. But vote only for a religious party."

I heard that story about five or six years ago. Now I think I understand why the Minchas Yitzchok said what he did.

Those of you who think I'm wrong are invited to try to convince me otherwise.


At 6:42 PM, Blogger Somebody said...

Here's my attempt to convince you otherwise. I'm assuming you believe in the man Moshe Feiglin. I do, too. I believe Israel needs to stand up for itself, assume its Jewish identity, and have an honest leader who is going to tell you what he's doing and why. Feiglin is about self-respect for the Jewish state, and self-respect saves lives and makes life worth living.

So here's what I think. There are three possibilities if you want to help Feiglin. First (the easiest) would be if the courts accept Michael Ratzon's appeal to overturn the likud's decision to push back himself, Yatom, and Feiglin. In which case, vote likud so Feiglin can get in the knesset. Second possibility, if Likud keeps Feilgin in spot 26 and maintains its poll strength in the 33-38 range. In which case, I would implore you to vote Likud so Feiglin can get in as well. However, if Likud goes down in the polls to the 30 or even the upper 20's, I'd say the best thing you can do for Feiglin would be vote right (Lieberman or the new Bayit Yehudi party). That way Netanyahu will look bad, Feiglin can capitalize on the next Likud leadership race, and you will vote your conscience.

You may not ideologically belong in the Likud right now, but understand that Feiglin's chance of taking it over can only succeed if people like us join the Likud and vote for him. This is the entire reason d'etre or Feiglin's fight. I'd appreciate discussing this more with you if you'd like.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Somebody said...

Oops - not spot 26 - 36.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think you're right that for the foreseeable future, Israel's leftist gatekeepers, the ones who really run the country, will do all in their power to keep religious Jews from assuming a position of influence in it. They're rootless, amoral and terrified of the definitive certainty that Judaism represents. They are thus driven to hate and oppress Jews because it is in their nature and to acknowledge Jews are right portends their own demise. I have no doubt that will eventually happen. Their treatment of Moshe Feiglin, regardless of what happens to him in the election next year has brought that day closer. A Torah-true Jew will one day be Israel's Prime Minister.

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jabotinsky was for much of his life viciously hostile to Torah Judaism and Torah Jews. But seeing how the resistance to the Arab uprisings in the 1930's came from daati Jews like David Raziel, Jabo revised his opinion.

Just remember about the Asaels that they are terrified we will take power and do to them as they did to us.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Asael (and so many others) call Feiglin a Fascist. I have not found any argument yet why Feiglin should be labeled this way. Any ideas?

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


36 is an unrealistic spot. And that's exactly why Feiglin was pushed there. There's a huge difference in this election in the Likud between 26 and 36.


They call Feiglin a fascist because he acted in a manner that is lionized in the US today: He practiced civil disobedience to back positions he believed were right.

But unlike Martin Luther King - whose birthday is celebrated in the US on the third Monday in January - Feiglin was indicted and convicted of fomenting rebellion (i.e. treason) rather than of the misdemeanors he really committed. The chattering classes here will do anything to keep him out of power.

Like it or not - and this is the point I am trying to make to all of you - Netanyahu is as much a part of the chattering classes as Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. Those of you who think that Netanyahu is going to bring hope and change - unless he is forced into a coalition with a very heavy right-wing tilt - are sadly mistaken.


Read that last paragraph. When Netanyahu brought Benny Begin and Boogie Yaalon into the Likud, I really thought I could vote for the Likud. But that last paragraph I wrote to Ruth is the truth. If Netanyahu wins, look for him to try to form a coalition with Kadima and maybe even with Labor. The more MK's he has, the more likely he will be able to do that. I cannot vote for him.

At 7:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, when are you going to understand that Manhigut Yehudit is not the overnight equivalent of "Mashich Achshav"?

This will take time and effort. No investment, no payoff.

"Us" people are needed inside the Likud. 36 seats would be easy if we'd unite and then Netanyahu would have the same hell Sharon did from within the Likud, both by loyal Likud Knesset members and a solid central commitee, which told Sharon to go to hell more than once. Believe me, he's in hell now and will be after they unplug him, too.

Or you can go the "Da'as Torah" way. Just look at the wonders and kiddushei Hashem it has bought - oops - brought us over the years. Yeh, vote for Degel and get Labor or Kadimah. Or perhaps, SHAS, and get the same plus no money for your children's schools, you white Ashkenazi!

Hey, how about the new Bayit Yehudi, which Matot Arim basically describes as Meimad II? They're falling apart as we type.

Whatever marginalized rinky-dinky party you wind up chosing, you'll contribute to the ongoing comprimise and sidelining of any chance to ever have any form of national Torah leadership leading this country down a path at least in the direction of Geulah, rather than continuing to spiral down to destruction.

It's up to us and the left and the Malach Hamavet are still laughing.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Shy Guy,

Who won? Sharon or the Likud? I'd say Sharon. We're not in Gaza anymore, are we?

No, it can't happen overnight (and I even voted Likud in the last election). But what Netanyahu's putsch against Feiglin proves is that the powers that be won't play fair. Why should I reward Netanyahu's behavior with a vote that is highly unlikely to put Feiglin in the Knesset, but might result in Dan "I can get Bibi to give up the Golan" Meridor getting in?

I haven't decided whom I'm voting for yet. Matot Arim is not exactly an authority on the political situation here (it's a one-woman organization as far as I can tell - all the emails still come from the same person).

There was a survey a few weeks ago that said that if all the religious parties banded together, they'd get 30 seats in the Knesset. Too bad that won't happen this year either. Even UTJ is splitting into its component parts over the egos of spots 6 and 7 (one side claims a rotation won't work because the government won't last anyway).

But politics is about compromise. Netanyahu wants to be Da Man. Just like Sharon. I'm not going to help him do it.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger YMedad said...

KL wrote: "Jabotinsky was for much of his life viciously hostile to Torah Judaism and Torah Jews. But seeing how the resistance to the Arab uprisings in the 1930's came from daati Jews like David Raziel, Jabo revised his opinion."

I would dispute that. He wasn't visciously hostile since he didn't really "do" anything. In 1920 he combatted Rav Kook's anti-women's vote stance for the Knesset Yisrael elections but we all now know that that position of Rav Kook would be totally unacceptable today, especially in Mizrachi circles not to mention the votes Aguda gets from females, and even then hadn't a real leg to stand on. He never was involved in any anti-Shabbat, conversion or whatever disputes and so he kept his opinions to himself mostly, on these issues. I don't think he knew anything about Raziel until he met him in 1939. And, already in 1935, he promoted the famous "hashrashat kodshei haummah" resolution at the founding convention of the NZO.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharon's win, a big one, is temporary. Kadima is already deteriorating and will go the way of both the Labor party and Shinui.

At the same time, the Likud got rid of 1 of 2 camps of riffraff.

But you keep on measuring success in overnight intervals.

Your biggest punishment to the Likud is to get as many "loyalists" - they're not "rebels" - inside the Likud to pester Netanyahu, hopefully to the point where he throws a tantrum like Sharon. Another cleansing.

In addition, the weaker the Likud gets means either that they will have even less clout when entering a coalition with Kadima and Labor.

Just imagine Meridor in a government with less Likudniks and more Kadimaniks.

What is the lesser of those 2 scenarios? Which one will you help promote by throwing another votes away for some sectarian party that's only interested in their cut and will bend the knee even more to whoever is king of the hill?

There won't be a united religious party for the same reason that there's still a Tish'a B'Av. Such a nice idea. Who's gonna lead it? Rav Elyashiv or Rav Ovadia or Rav Eliyahu? Oh, please!

Regarding Matot Arim, my point was that even though it states as a bottom line to yes vote for Habayit Hayehudi, their suggestion is almost in contradiction to everything its letter lamented before that bottom line.

No one is offerring a comprehensive plan for Manhigut Yehudit in all spheres, except for Manhigut Yehudit. Everyone else wants money. Some of them want kavod, too. And that's the truth.

Less Likud means a worse Bibi. Hakol Hafuch!

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Shy Guy,

Unfortunately, more Likud will likely mean more Bibi. The first 35 MK's on the list are all likely to be loyal to Bibi. He'll have less opposition than Sharon had within the party.

Do you expect Tal Brody to oppose him?

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


Did you see Feiglin's plans for election night, in case he gets to be Prime Minister?!

In my understanding using the Temple Mount as a backdrop for celebrating an election victory is blasphemous.

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, please investigate who currently in the first 35 slots are not Bibi's yes folk. When Feiglin got pushed back to 36, that let lots of others with similar persuasions move up the line.

And in any case, Netanyahu's picks are bolstered by an artificial slot assignment system skewed in BB's favor. The Likud membership and the Central Commitee itself are still the same. Once again, invasive surgery is needed to get the cancer out of the Likud once and for all.

Ruth, please point out any halachic source of what you are talking about, regarding a Temple Mount backdrop photo.

Incidentally, I cannot find the backdrop you're refering to on the webpage you listed. Not that it matters.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I had not seen that.

Personally, my Rabbis do not permit to go on the Temple Mount at this time. But he talks about prayers of Thanksgiving and not a victory celebration. I don't think he's thinking Obama in Grant Park. So while it's not something I would do, I know that other people's Rabbis rule differently. I have nothing against going and thanking God if we actually manage to get a religious Prime Minister!

Shy Guy,

Here's the Likud's Knesset list as elected. The people who were moved down were Feiglin (20), Ratzon (24) and Yatom (29), who were moved to 36, 37 and 38. Feiglin was pushed down the furthest - 16 slots.

Then they moved up Miri Regev (a Bibi loyalist) and Keren Barak from 34 and 40 to 27 and 32.

Note that Netanyahu plans to 'merge' with Tzomet (a party with a bad history that doesn't exist in the current Knesset) to push Feiglin down further, and says that he will pursue a 'broad national unity government' (i.e. with Kadima and Labor). Is that what you're voting for? Is that what you want? I doubt it and I know I don't want it.

You say that when Feiglin dropped down, it let lots of others of 'similar persuasions' move up the line. Similar to whom? Zev Elkin? (A Kadima refugee). Ophir Akoonis? (A Bibi loyalist who nominally filed the petition against Feiglin). Keti Sheetrit? (Related to Meir? Likud's most leftist Knesset member when he was in the party).

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Akiva said...


Clearly many rightists had hoped that Likud was returning to being a nominally right wing part, with a few hardliners and a few overly moderates.

Instead, Bibi has clearly signaled, and not only from the Feiglin affair but from every statement he has made, that he's playing to the pure middle and not tolerating any right wingness whatsoever. No tolerance for any religious party members, land of Israel party members, or democratic party members.

He may be the best of the old Israeli power elites, but he's still one of them.

There is no electoral choice. The right wing is in disarray fighting for scraps and has been unable to serve their constituency. The religious wing is infighting over a perceived growth of power destroyed by that infighting for control of it.

Neither has any intention or attempt to rule and govern, only to pick scraps.

We have been completely disenfranchised.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

One other thing about Begin. After Sadat was killed both he and Yosef Burg walked to the funeral because it was on Shabbos. They did this despite the threats against them.

Someone I know once described Begin as not being observant himself but of the belief that the leader of the Jewish state, in that capacity, should be observant.

And a friend of mine went to one of his Motzei Shabbos talks about about the Parsha.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...



Soccer Dad,

I've heard that line about him not being religiously observant. I don't buy it. Begin was from the generation where 90% of the people kept 90% Kosher (as opposed to ours where 10% keep 100% Kosher). I'm sure he was part of the 90%.


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