In this past election for the 19th Knesset, Moshe Feiglin of the Manhigut Yehudit faction of Likud has, for the first time, won a seat. The Five Towns Jewish Times was privileged to meet with him recently in his office in the Knesset and raise several topics for discussion.
Moshe Feiglin is one of the few people who represent the idea that a two-state solution is not the ideal. Many have the perception that Manhigut Yehudit’s ideas fly in the face of democratic notions valued by two different but important populations. Internally, the majority of Israel is made up of the non-observant. Granted, you can get followers, and perhaps a significant number, but you will have to max out as the non-observant will feel that many items in your platform are just not compatible with democratic values. Externally, the family of nations that believe in the need to support democracies will not be happy with Manhigut Yehudit and will look at it in a similar vein to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Feiglin disagreed with this notion. “Regarding the internal audience, those that you describe as the non-observant, there are a growing number of them that are working together with us on all sorts of projects, and they are coming around. I also prefer to speak in terms of freedoms. My movement believes in freedoms. This is a Jewish home—the state of Israel was established as a Jewish home—and we must be able to maintain the freedoms to keep it Jewish. As far as external politics, we actually have to learn from our Islamic neighbors. We cannot be afraid to stand up for who we are, and the external nations will respect us all the more for it.”
Manhigut Yehudit was essentially born out of frustration, from the fact that the political reality of maintaining a one-state solution was disappearing; even Netanyahu adopted the idea of a two-state solution. Feiglin agrees: “It is true that the politicians even on the right are afraid to stand up for keeping the Jewish State entirely in Jewish hands and are essentially looking to give up the farm.”
An interesting topic of discussion was the idea of copying the American model for post-WWII Germany, called denazification. Under American General Lucius Clay, the United States was able to rebuild Germany into a peace-loving democracy by using a carrot-and-stick approach. They would not allow anyone who had a previous association with the Nazis to have power in the newly emerging Germany. The same could be done in Israel—zero tolerance for anyone that ever had anything to do with terror. All books backing it or glorifying it destroyed and, at the same time, building an infrastructure of medical schools, technology, the economy—where a one-state Israel could be similar to other democracies, with a healthy and contributing minority. The Druze in Israel are full productive citizens, and the Hispanic population in America as well.
Feiglin expressed some reservations about this. “This method has been tried countless times. Netanyahu is smarter than you and me combined; don’t you think he has tried this approach?”
This gave rise to a look into the launch of Binyamin Netanyahu’s political career after the loss of his brother Yoni at Entebbe. Feiglin explains, “Netanyahu made it his business to study terrorism, its origins, effects, and how to deal with it. He developed an expertise in it, and launched centers for terrorism studies. This is not a new approach, and it has failed. Why are you afraid to use the component that is the essential element? This is a Jewish state and must remain that way. You need to forget the method of creating a universalistic appeal.”
There is concern that the freedoms Feiglin mentions are limited to Jews alone and that he avoids the essential question, what about freedoms for others? Feiglin notes, “Manhigut Yehudit allows for freedoms of others, but not past the essential idea that this land is a Jewish home, much like any other private home. . . . We cannot be afraid of stating the real truth—Israel needs Jewish leadership committed to the idea of only a Jewish Eretz Yisrael. We cannot risk losing the Jewish identity of this land.” v
The author can be reached at Yairhoffman2@gmail.com.