Leadership and Vision

When peace turns into the goal - when existence turns into destiny – the result is terrible bloodshed and the loss of legitimacy that we are experiencing today.

Moshe Feiglin

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Moshe Feiglin.jpg
Arutz 7


It is difficult to separate reality from myth. We build myths to serve our needs in the present. But in no time at all the myths turn into
The only real leader that the State of Israel has known was David Ben Gurion.
historical fact that defies challenge.

Our natural yearning for real leadership creates the myth of the leaders of the past. But the truth is that the only real leader that the State of Israel has known was David Ben Gurion.

I do not know where Ben Gurion is right now – in heaven or in hell. Ben Gurion, the schemer who crushed anyone in his way, the man responsible for the Saison and the Altalena, who handed his brothers over to the enemy and wove a small civil war against them to consolidate his power – was also Ben Gurion the private who understood military strategy better than all the generals, the man who truly built the IDF and without whose learning ability, perseverance and historical vision – we would clearly not have a state today.

 In other words, I am certainly not a big admirer of Ben Gurion – but the man truly was a leader. I cannot say that of any other leader who came after him. Not even of Menachem Begin, toward whom I feel much more amity.

 Many fine and talented people have led our state. Some contributed more and some less. But they were not true leaders. The reason for that is simple: They lacked the most basic requirement of any leader: Vision.

The most experienced driver who does not know what his destination is should really leave the driving to a less experienced person who knows where he wants to go.  

Ben Gurion was a leader, not only because of his personality but first and foremost because his goal was clear and simple: To turn the Jewish settlement in Israel into a sovereign state. If he had come into power ten years later, it is doubtful that he would have been able to fully express his leadership potential. The goal, the destiny, the vision – are what leadership is made of – not the opposite.

The leaders who succeeded the first prime minister no longer enjoyed the advantage of having a clear and simple existential goal from which to draw their leadership. They provided maintenance for Israel's existence and ignored its destiny. But as the State's physical existence – military and economic - solidified, the need for a vision outside Israel's sovereign, physical existence became clear. Israel's leaders have preferred to flee this vision. This makes them 'non-leaders.'

Some claim that Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres were leaders because they were the first statesmen since Ben Gurion to establish a new vision: The "peace vision." But this is nothing more than deception. The "peace vision" falsely portrays existence as destiny. It turns the de facto situation into the choice option. "Peace" in this vision is a situation of non-belligerence and serenity. This is certainly a worthy state, but it has nothing to do with vision. On the contrary – it perpetuates and glorifies the lack of vision and effectively expresses the non-leadership/populism of the person who conjures it up.

A quick glance at the values of the French Revolution or the American Constitution reveals concepts like liberty, equality and brotherhood. Peace as a goal does not appear there and cannot appear. Nations go to war for liberty, equality and brotherhood. Peace is the result of these goals – not the goal itself. When peace turns into the goal - when existence turns into destiny – the result is terrible bloodshed and the loss of legitimacy that we are experiencing today.

The peace aspirations of the Western nations cleared the way for the rise of Nazism and led to the most horrific of wars. The simple fact is that the "peace" process has brought us to the point where Israel's leaders can no longer travel freely to Western capitals; some of them even have arrest warrants waiting for them in Europe. The very legitimacy for the existence of a state that is incapable of establishing a vision for which it is willing to fight – is disappearing before our eyes. 

Beginning from Yitzchak Rabin's second term, the built-in lack of leadership of the Israeli regime became even more sophisticated: It began to iconize its lack of destiny. Not one prime minister who succeeded him managed to establish true goals and to change Israel's direction. Binyamin Netanyahu, who brought up the issue of the Jewish State for public debate, has a chance to do so and to become a leader – as long as the Jewish State issue will be a strategic statement and not just a political tactic designed to throw the ball to the other side of the court.  

Is there any chance for a new generation of leaders in Israel? We certainly do not lack good, talented people. The young generation is even more talented than its predecessors. But its ability to supply us with worthy leadership does not derive from talent. It derives from its vision.