Voting Dilemmas and Nationalist Unity

With the completion of the major party primaries and the beginning of the abbreviated campaign run-up to the January 28th elections, I fear that we may be witnessing counter-productive divisions in what I will call the true-blue and white - the Real Nationalist Camp.

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Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
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With the completion of the major party primaries and the beginning of the abbreviated campaign run-up to the January 28th elections, I fear that we may be witnessing counter-productive divisions in what I will call the true-blue and white - the Real Nationalist Camp.

No, by the Real Nationalist Camp, I'm not necessarily talking about the National Union of Benny (transfer means let ?em live here and vote in Jordan) Elon, Avigdor (Vido) Leiberman and Tzvi (50 ways to drop your spent cigarette butts on Eretz HaKedosha) Hendel or about the National Religious Party's Effie (give ?em a state in the Sinai) Eitam. What is concerning me is the potential for divisiveness in the Real Nationalist Camp, between supporters of the Jewish Leadership Manhigut Yehudit faction inside Likud and the Herut party of Michael Kleiner, Baruch Marzel and Professor Paul Eidelberg.

Phil Chernofsky of Jerusalem?s Torah Center wrote a commentary on the parsha last week that might have described the dilemma of the Real Nationalist Camp. He wrote of hindsight and "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" and that we only know what decisions or paths were correct in a given situation after an event has been played out. In our personal lives or as a community, we make individual or collective decisions and take actions based, hopefully, on a proper analysis of what information we have, and on a perception of what our correct course of action is, based on our educated analysis.

In recent days, I've detected the sprouting of seeds and the rustlings of division and discord in the Real Nationalist Camp. I hear the ghosts of the old Herutniks who vilified Prime Minister Menachem Begin after his Camp David agreement with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Some in our Real Nationalist Camp vilify Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit in some of the very same unkind terms that I recall hearing from the old Herutniks, and which will not be enunciated in this article.

I write this article as a long-time admirer and supporter of Moshe Feiglin from the mid-1990s when I read, while still outside of Israel, of the Zo Artzeinu organization and their mobilization and battles against the disastrous and blood-stained Oslo "agreements." I heard and read of how he and Zo Artzeinu absorbed "Pharoh's whippings" literally, as they undertook acts of civil non-violent disobedience in desperate attempts to save Jewish lives. I read, in depth, of how Feiglin, Shmuel Sackett, and others, stood up to villainous police interrogators, whose whole approach to the law was politically motivated. I prayed and rallied overseas to support them when Moshe and Shmuel stood trial, on behalf of all of us, accused of "sedition" and "incitement." And I joined others in thanksgiving when, although convicted, their sentence was merely community service.

Go know that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who heretofore in his political life was a "dyed-in-the-wool" champion of Eretz Yisrael (even from the past perspective of Yamit in the Sinai), who even wrote on the eve of his election as Prime Minister that he had regrets about not doing more to insure settlement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, would give Kosher certification to a terrorist entity. Go know that the greatest general of the 20th Century would, as national leader of B'nai Yisrael, brazenly go against his own party's Central Committee in actively and publically advocating the relinquishment of a part of Hashem's divine legacy to us. And that he would do so in order that a bogus, illegitimate entity of a bogus, illegitimate group of Arab terrorists could be camped in our very heart and gain international legitimacy for their stated goals -- our destruction and annihilation. Go know that Arik Sharon would maneuver snap elections for the end of January 2003, as much to catch his opposition inside Likud off-guard, as to not enable his major opposition, Amram Mitzna and the Labor party to put up a viable campaign against him. Go know that the great general who led us accross the Suez Canal to encircle an Egyptian army in 1973 would hold back and pull punches in this two-and-a-half year war in defense of our Jewish state. Go know that he'd be just another politico, who equivocates before mortal man, rather than standing solid and firm on the axiomatic principle of our right to all of Eretz Yisrael.

Go know, back in August 2000, when Moshe Feiglin began his drive to enter the Likud and change it into a party that stood for a state based on Torah principles, that the scenario of the past two-and-a-half years would be played out. What Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit have been doing and continue trying to do, is to change, from within, the only major party now potentially ideologically capable of holding the reigns of power in a Jewish State. And they've had elements of success. The reality of the Likud Central Committee?s ringing vote against a "palestinian [sic] state" last April is that it was Manhigut Yehudit, not Binyamin Netanyahu, who mobilized and pressed the issue and gained support. It is apparent that Bibi hopped on for the ride after the bus left the station, because he hoped to make political capital on the issue in the later contest with Sharon. And it was the Leftist-bent Israeli media who blacklisted and denied Moshe and Manhigut Yehudit its just due, lest they dare recognize and give credence to such a nationalist, religious, Eretz Yisrael-loving organization.

I recall that once, during a conversation with Nadia Matar of Women in Green, she stated to me that Women in Green and the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza "were extensions of each other." I can't think of a better way to express what I see as the current relationship between Manhigut Yehudit and the Herut party of Kleiner, Marzel and Eidelberg. These are two groups who share the same aims and goals for B'nai Yisrael in Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel). Both Manhigut Yehudit and Herut wish that Medinat Yisrael truly be the Kingdom of Hashem. They both seek unity among B'nai Yisrael, the eternity of our claim to Eretz Yisrael, a national constitution, higher thresholds for Knesset representation, as well as a segment of Knesset elected regionally, reform of Israel's Court system (from Lower Courts through the High Court of Justice), etc. Manhigut Yehudit and Herut only differ in the means to achieving these mutual aims. Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit see the changing and reforming of the Likud Party, long-term goals, as the means - to bring about the Kingdom of Hashem through the cleansing the Likud, over time, of its apparently rampant graft, corruption, influence-peddling and vote buying.

Herut, on the other hand, has seen a series of recent developments play out so that Member of Knesset Michael Kleiner has been joined by two long-time, solid, principled nationalists - Professor Paul Eidelberg and Baruch Marzel. Herut sees the strong potential for confronting and combating now those seeking, within a short term context, an illegitimate entity or state in our very heartland. Herut apparently sees recent polls, which seem to indicate the strong possibility that they can secure two to three mandates in Knesset, siphon-off numbers of votes from the Likud, and deny Sharon and Likud their possibility of again forming a coalition government with Labor. They fear that such a coalition this time will exclude the right-wing parties such as National Union, Yisrael B'Aliyah, as well as the religious parties - Agudas Yisroel, NRP, etc. Herut seems to view the number of mandates received by Likud in this way: the more right-wing mandates, the better, and that less Likud mandates is actually more.

An analogy is called for here. In the mid-1970s, when the previously mediocre Philadelphia Phillies, of baseball fame, were winning Divisional Championships each year (1974 - 1978), they kept getting beaten roundly by the Cincinnati Reds or LA Dodgers each year in the NLCS and, therefore, never made it to the World Series. It seemed that the Phillies built their team mostly from their own farm (minor league) system, while picking up some other players over the years in trades. The team built slowly, methodically, from the inside, but still needed that quick fix, the seasoned player from another team who was capable making a difference - getting to the "Big Dance", the World Series, and now. In 1980, with the addition of Pete Rose, the Phillies went to the World Series and won.

In other words, we have Moshe and Manhigut Yehudit working on Likud, slowly, methodically from the inside, over time, and we have Herut working from the outside to make a difference now -- to prevent the Likud from bringing in Labor and circumventing the nationalist Right on January 28, 2002. Each group is equally right and share the same aims and goals, both entitled to our support and admiration, rather then our vilification.

Yet, the dilemma on election day comes down to this: which party secures us in the short run? It is indeed unfortunate that votes that would bring Likud in excess of 40 mandates and secure for Moshe Feiglin his justly deserved mandate may very well bring about a situation of a Likud/Labor/Shinui coalition, which will totally bypass the right-wing and religious and bring an alien state into our heartland. Furthermore, if Moshe does win his seat, is he then governed by Likud party discipline? What are the chances that powerful, corrupt forces inside the Likud will work to alienate and ostracize him -- the lone Manhigut Yehudit MK, just as the Likud did in the 1980s to Rabbi Meir Kahane and his single-man Kach party? On the other hand, the question arises, if Herut is successful in reaching its goal -- that its main three personalities all win mandates in Knesset, will the same Likud forces that could work to ostracize Feiglin, also bring about the ostracization and elimination of the Herut party, thus tarnishing Menachem Begin's memory? I hold that the latter will be just a bit harder than the former. I feel that the name of the game on election day is numbers of votes for now - to stop a "palestinian [sic] state" now.

It is with great personal agony and anxiety that I must choose now on election day. And yet I must also continue my support, encouragement and admiration for my brothers with whom I share the hopes and prayers for Manhigut Yehudit ? real Jewish Leadership. I say again that we are all on the same team ? that we are all "extensions of each other." No matter which party one votes for, it is intentions that matter most. We are on the same side. Let's show unity with each other, rather than derision and divisiveness.

With God?s help, through our unity and love for each other, we will merit to see Moshiach, the full Redemption, now - chik-chak.
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh Chadash for three and 3/4 years, writes news and current events commentary. He is also the Founder of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network.