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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Feiglin v. Jewish Home

Moshe Feiglin (left), who is likely to be a Likud MK in the next Knesset, penned an open letter to Naftali Bennett, the new leader of the Jewish Home party, which currently is polling as the third largest party in the next Knesset. It's been translated into English here.
The struggle for the votes of the Religious Zionists currently revolve around two parameters: Who will give more to the sector and who will better protect the Land of Israel. Both these parameters are an illusion. They divert the discussion to an irrelevant place and deflect attention from the main point of the debate. In both parameters, the advantage of a significant faith-based power base within the ruling party is clear and unequivocal. It has also proven itself well in the reality of the last four years. Real power cannot be acquired without the true integration that was expressed in the Likud primaries two weeks ago.

Why does the Education Minister send all Israeli students to the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron? Because of the members of the Jewish Home party? Why does Transportation Minister Katz pave every road he can in Judea and Samaria? Because of Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach?

The above discussion is really nothing more than a smoke screen. If someone thinks that he can get more for his sector with the services of a sectoral middleman instead of with a direct and binding connection with the relevant minister – so be it. Whoever thinks that he can better protect the Land of Israel from within a satellite party that is already committed to join a coalition with the ruling party – and that has no other option – can go right ahead. Whoever has forgotten where the Jewish Home's predecessor, the Mafdal, with its 12 mandates was during the destruction of Sinai; how Mafdal minister Orlev defused the political option for preventing the destruction of Gush Katif; how the Yesha Council – from where the current head of the Bayit Yehudi came- sidelined an effective struggle against the destruction; whoever has forgotten the entire sad history of sectoral politics - is invited to once again enjoy himself in the sectoral back yard.

The real discussion, however, revolves around a completely different point.

In a panel discussion in the Nechalim Yeshiva, Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach asked me who will ensure that the next Chief Rabbi will be a Zionist – the Likud or the Mafdal? This question perfectly illuminates the two paths open now before the Religious Zionist public. What is your dream? What is really important to you? A Chief Rabbi who sees eye to eye with you on the issues? Or a Prime Minister who believes in what you believe? All the other questions – like where you will get more funding – I think the answer is the Likud – are irrelevant.

Look yourself in the mirror and answer honestly. And then go to vote. But no putting your head in the sand; no buying the line that a new, improved Mafdal middleman with a secular fig leaf has suddenly morphed into the Likud and will lead the country. Tell yourselves the truth: What is your dream? Leadership of the country like you were supposed to have been taught over the years (even though the teachers really did not mean it)? Or the comfort and familiarity of your sector?

What do you prefer? The Chief Rabbi or the Prime Minister? Do you believe that you have something beside religion to offer Israeli society? What is the relevance of your Torah outside your closed communities? What do you communicate about yourselves and your beliefs when you flee the Israeli reality for the fenced-in sector? What message do you project when you are afraid to present Israeli society with a leadership alternative based on your beliefs?

12 years of intensive work have brought about a great change in the Likud. The national ruling party has opened its gates to the faith-based public as never before. The Likud Knesset list includes 7 settlers (!) and many Religious Zionists in realistic slots. The sectoral opposing wave threatens to wash away the advancement of faith-based energies to the fore of national leadership.
Read the whole thing.

Feiglin makes a lot of good points. Ultimately, I do see value in religious parties, especially because of our bizarre electoral system, which allows religious parties to hold the balance of power and to therefore protect freedom of worship (and yes, unfortunately, that too must be protected and not taken for granted in the Jewish state).

But I last voted for Jewish Home and its predecessors in 1992, and I won't make that mistake again. When they went into the Rabin government, they lost me. I see little value in having a national religious chief rabbi for the sake of having a national religious (as opposed to Haredi) chief rabbi. After 20 years of watching Jewish Home try to 'broaden' itself by not being a 'party of the settlers,' I don't see the last few months as sufficiently established change that could make me consider voting for them. And I see the same hostility to Haredim from them that I see from the Left, which will not ultimately result in Haredim being integrated into society in any meaningful way, shape or form (in the Likud, there is actually a Haredi division that backed Feiglin!).

While I think Feiglin went too far in disparaging the good in the religious parties, much of what he says is correct.

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At 10:13 AM, Blogger Yehudi Yerushalmi said...

I agree with all your comments, and I am too a member of Manhigut Yehudit.

But am at a great loss as to who to vote for in the national elections: Shas? Y.T.? Rav Amnon Yitzchaks party??? Mafdal is most certainly out!

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Shy Guy said...

It's more than that. Have you listened to Bennet? Most of what he espouses is part of Feiglin's mandate. Bennet's a parrot.

Manhigut Yehudit is right because the goal is to lead the country, not to become minister or this or of that. And to lead, you have to confront the leaders who are destroying the country. That cannot be done from without. It can only be done from within the Likud, where the masses of members are not behind Netanyahu 2-state solution.

Netanyahu could have been out last round, had right-wingers, religious or not, banded together within the Likud and pushed the bad-guys out the Metzuda's front door. The numbers are there. The strategy is not complicated but people cannot agree to get together to accomplish what they themselves claim that they want.

Stupid Jews.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger israel-environment said...

Netanyahu is so far to the left of center that is is rediculous to have a leftist opposition. If Netanyahu is not toppled in this coming election, a nationalist party should be the official opposition.

I don't think, and so does Moshe Feiglin, apparently, that religion should should not be a party platform. The religious parties are anyway too easily bought with support to keep their yeshivas and big families going.


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