The Battle for Israel's Soul

Where does Manhigut Yehudit stand after last week's Likud vote?

Moshe Feiglin

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Moshe Feiglin.jpg
Arutz 7

The media buzz surrounding Manhigut Yehudit's future in the Likud caught me by surprise. We had planned to keep the brainstorming process after last Thursday's Likud vote an internal affair – with only Manhigut Yehudit activists engaging in the debate. True, we knew that deliberations taking place among tens or hundreds of people
[Likud].. has become the ruling party of one man – in the service of the Left.
would not be secret for long, but we did not estimate the great surge of public interest that the question of our future in the Likud would awaken. It seems that the stake that Manhigut Yehudit has planted in Israel's politics and collective consciousness is deeper than what we had assessed. When we move that stake just a bit, we create waves both inside and outside Israeli politics – surprising those in the eye of the storm.


Some people erroneously believe that our deliberations over Manhigut Yehudit's future in the Likud are the result of political failure, or because we failed in our attempt to prevent the Likud Central Committee from adopting Netanyahu's proposal, or because the Prime Minister has waged an all-out war against me. That is simply not true. If all that I was looking for was a place in the Knesset, I could have achieved my goal directly and with relative ease. It is not pleasant to be engaged in an ongoing political battle against forces larger and stronger than me; it is not pleasant when the chairman of my political home schemes with the High Court "judges" to remove me from the Knesset slot to which I was elected last year or to prevent elections altogether, as he has done now. I am way outside my comfort zone – but that is apparently the proof that we are on the right track.


As a result of last Thursday's vote, the Likud has redefined itself. It can no longer be considered the ruling party of the National Camp. Instead, it has become the ruling party of one man – in the service of the Left. The political alliance that has been formed between the chairman of the Likud (who also happens to be the Prime Minister of Israel) and the justice system allowed him to retroactively change the rules of the game to his advantage and to effectively sever the Likud from its members. From that point and on, nothing stands in the way of the Prime Minister as he charges ahead with his plans to partition Jerusalem.



Not one member of the small, rightist Knesset parties was anywhere near the arena on which the battle for Jerusalem took place last Thursday. Manhigut Yehudit, the movement that "always fails" made the prime minister sweat and deny the claims that the real story behind the Likud vote was Netanyahu's plans to divide Jerusalem.


Manhigut Yehudit's struggle was actually a mission impossible. In addition to the opportunity to vote themselves into position for life, Netanyahu treated the Likud Central Committee members to an all-star lineup of rightist ministers and senior Likud MKs who promised to safeguard Jerusalem: No less than Bogi Ya'alon, Benny Begin, Gideon Sa'ar, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kachalon and Rubi Rivlin vowed their undying loyalty to Jerusalem. Under the circumstances, it was almost impossible to convince the LCC members that just the opposite would happen. But not even two weeks have passed and the US has already revealed the truth about Netanyahu's plans for our capital.


In other words, a regular citizen – not even a Knesset Member or minister – ascended alone onto the arena where the battle for Jerusalem was being waged and gave the prime minister and the government mechanism that protects him the only significant fight that took place. Thank G-d for such "failure."


Why then, are we considering leaving the Likud?

To understand this, we must first explain why we are in the Likud, in the first place.


The Zo Artzeinu demonstrations against Oslo were perhaps the most potent catalyst for Netanyahu's election victory in 1996. One hundred thousand people took to the streets only to see, one year later, the head of the National Camp, who had been elected on the wings of their demonstrations – hug the greatest murderer of Jews since Hitler – Yasser Arafat – and to declare to the entire world that he had "found a friend."  Instead of nullifying the Oslo Accords and restoring Israel to sanity, Netanyahu gave the Oslo catastrophe the Right's seal of approval. All the wars, the exploding buses, the security guards and the fences, the loss of international legitimacy – the entire collapse that we have experienced since then, are the children of Shimon Peres, who brought Oslo into the world. But they became an indisputable fact of life in the merit of Netanyahu's hug with Arafat.


At that point, we at Manhigut Yehudit realized that there was no point in demonstrations. We realized that the large Jewish majority in Israel – the National Camp - needs leadership that is committed to Judaism's holy values.
The problem is that Israel denies its intrinsic holiness.
The natural party for our aspirations is the ruling party of the National Camp; the Likud.

The problem is not the talent or the personal character traits of one rightist leader or another. The problem is that Israel denies its intrinsic holiness. Egypt's Sa'adat received the entire Sinai peninsula from Israel because he declared that every grain of its sand was holy to him. When veteran journalist Chaim Yavin asked me last Friday, "Actually, why shouldn't we partition Jerusalem?" I answered him quite simply: "Because Jerusalem is holy. Just like you don't divide your mother, you do not divide your holy city."


Israel urgently needs leadership that speaks in the name of Jewish holy values. Israel needs leadership that expresses its soul.  Without this leadership, not only will we lose Jerusalem – we will lose Tel Aviv, as well. Israel's detachment from its soul has led the world to believe that we are 'pragmatic' and rational - and that this land is holy only to the Arabs. And that is exactly how we have lost the legitimacy for our very existence as a Jewish state. 


I have no doubt that my dreams are the quintessential dreams of the large Jewish majority in Israel; traditional Jews, religious Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews and even the remaining 19% who define themselves as secular Jews. I dream of a truly free state – for rich and for poor; for the strong and the weak. I dream of a Jewish State that lives in peace with its identity and its G-d – with no coercion. I dream of a state that is proud to fulfill the historic destiny of the nation that it represents – a state that strives to perfect the world and to sanctify the Name of G-d by establishing an exemplary society. I dream of a state that is firmly planted on its holy foundations – and not on pragmatism, alone.  I dream of a state to which the nations of the world will turn to receive moral legitimacy – and not the opposite. I dream of a state that proudly embodies the soul of the Jewish Nation.


Does the path to national leadership that dreams this national dream still lie in the Likud? That depends: If the Likud will manage to rebound from the major blow that it has just received and to restore the democratic process that it has lost, then it will once again be capable of honestly representing the human tapestry that makes up the Jewish majority in Israel.


When will we know? I do not know. We will take all the time that we need to analyze the new situation and to make the correct decision. The Likud is still our political home and for now, we will remain in the party and continue to register new members with hope that the movement will overcome this blow and flourish once more. If it becomes clear that the Likud cannot regain its status as the ruling party of the national camp – I am sure that our Father in heaven will open a new channel for our efforts.


One thing is for sure: We do not have the luxury of sinking into despair and going home. Our children and grandchildren deserve a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.