By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
MK Moshe Feiglin continued the interview that began last week in the Knesset, but this time the venue was the offices of the Five Towns Jewish Times.
5TJT: We understand that you have, for all intents and purposes, been banned from entering Har HaBayit. How often did you go previously, and how long have you been barred from entering it? [Editor’s Note: The 5TJT is not advocating going onto Har HaBayit, which according to most poskim is absolutely forbidden. MK Feiglin follows a view that there are certain identifiable parts of Har HaBayit that are not forbidden.]
MF: I used to go the 19th of every month. A group of good Jews used to come with me and I would give a tour. It has been four months since I was last there.
5TJT: But is it legal for the government to ban you?
MF: It is absolutely illegal—especially as a Knesset member. The prime minister, however, told me that I cannot go. From a security perspective, of course, the police can say to step aside—but that’s the only reason. Using the so-called security reason, they extended it to “if you go there, there will be a problem.”
5TJT: But how did it begin?
MF: It did not start as an official order from the prime minister—it started with the police. Then it went back and forth with the attorney general, then the police commander. The sad truth is that Israel has pretty much surrendered the Har HaBayit.
5TJT: Can you fight this?
MF: I could go to the Supreme Court, but they would overrule based upon national security—there will be World War III. The prime minister of Israel has decided on that subject—he is not willing to force this issue to make sure that our sovereignty is not questioned.
If you don’t let Jews go on the Temple Mount—if Israel decides that the Temple Mount is not important enough to put your foot down—if the representatives of Israeli sovereignty aren’t allowed there, then we are capitulating on our national heritage.
Muslims will let us go there as tourists, but if there will be Israeli flags attached to our suits they won’t let you in. You cannot represent any other sovereignty—they want to give the message that only the Wakf is in charge.
5TJT: But why you in particular?
MF: Their problem with me is that I, as a person, represent the Jewish claim for sovereignty on Har HaBayit. I am marked personally—so I cannot even go as a tourist. This is not just a place; it is the heart and soul of our country.
5TJT: You seem to be blaming Netanyahu on this. But surely this began years ago.
MF: That is true. It is a problem that started four hours after we got the Temple Mount. Netanyahu is not to be blamed. However, Netanyahu peeled a few more layers of Israeli sovereignty off of it—and gave it away—including a written agreement signed between Jordan and the so-called Palestinians, and the agreement is that one side is giving the other side the Temple Mount (to the Jordanians). If someone gives away to a third party your private house, would you be quiet? What would it mean?
There is a plan over here. One huge overarching plan—make no mistake. Obama’s visit. The Temple Mount from one Arab to another, the fact that they are releasing murderers. Everything is being well prepared beforehand. All the points that I am putting on the table are part of one big, bad picture.
5TJT: How does it end up?
MF: It ends at the ’67 borders . . . a return to parts that we will not be able to withdraw from. That’s why he passed the law of mishal ha’am.
5TJT: It seems from what you are painting that one is better off supporting a left-wing government.
MF: I don’t want to be part of an institution that comprises the lesser of two evils. The only reason I joined is to create a position different from both sides—and so far, unfortunately, no one sees an alternative to Netanyahu.
5TJT: But is your point of view making inroads into Israeli society? Are they not for the most part chiloni?
MF: Shockingly enough, those are not the true numbers. A recent survey I have with me showed some numbers that may surprise you: 50 percent of Israeli society are traditional; 20 percent are dati. Only 19 percent define themselves as chilonim. 31 percent of the non-yarmulke-wearers wish to build the Beit HaMikdash in our days—10 percent more than in the chareidi circles, I might add.
5TJT: Let’s switch to another topic. The referendum on the peace deal. Are you confident it will be rejected?
MF: No. You cannot know the circumstances, but I can tell you one thing—most of the people don’t want to give away land.
5TJT: Do you want to take over Likud?
MF: Yes, that has been the strategy for the past ten years. According to the Likud charter, six months before the election you need primaries. I am preparing myself all the time.
5TJT: With Secretary of State Kerry working on the Mideast, is the Israeli government really taking President Obama’s plan seriously?
MF: There are two points I’d like to make here: The way the government is looking at it and the way I am looking at it. Mekor Rishon told (and proved to) its readers last week that the reason Netanyahu did not attack Iran six months ago was that Obama thought that such an attack would precipitate the price of oil to go up and that will harm his chances to win. He had sources for this.
This is horrible. This answers your question: Apparently, yes, they do take him seriously. Should it be like this? Definitely not. Israel can deal very well with its own problems.
I am also a member of the economic committee. I told the head of the committee that I want to have a serious discussion about the harm that the $3 billion in aid is actually causing Israel. It costs Israel much more.
5TJT: Harm? What harm could economic aid cause?
MF: Factories are being closed, people are losing their jobs, development is being stopped. They used to cover the tanks with special plastic sheets, which need to be replaced every ten years. The factory that makes this is in Kibbutz HaOgen. The aid allows the army to say, “We have money from the United States for this. We can buy from the American company.” The upshot? The Israeli company is closing. The price tag on the $3 billion in aid is the strings attached to it.
5TJT: What are your thoughts on the exchange of Palestinian prisoners at the behest of Secretary of State Kerry?
MF: Two days after the decision was made, there was a convention in the Knesset about the rise of anti-Semitism in the world. When my turn came to speak, I said that if France had released the murderer from Toulouse, there would have been an uproar and we would have said that France was an anti-Semitic state. How can we complain from that point of view if we just released hundreds of terrorists as evil as the one from Toulouse? I received an unprecedented round of applause when I pointed this out.
5TJT: How can we stop such a release in the future?
MF: You need a leadership that is not coming from an excuse point of view. You need a government that radiates the feeling of strength and self-justification that we believe in our own right to fight our enemies and kill the murderers of our people. We cannot gain it without leaning on our faith. Just pure Zionism that sees Judaism as a museum doesn’t work anymore. It worked in the first few decades of Israel. This is what we need to create in Israel today. There is no other way. v
Rabbi Hoffman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.