Former MK Moshe Feiglin, head of the Zehut party, told Arutz Sheva on Thursday that the statement by Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay, that “the left has forgotten what it means to be Jewish”, was intended to gather votes from the right but did not correspond with reality.
"As a Knesset member in the past, I often found Yitzhak Herzog at Mincha prayers with a kippah, and not because he came to help complete a minyan, but because he actually came to pray. I never found Netanyahu in the Knesset chapel, so who exactly forgot to be a Jew?" said Feiglin.
He noted that when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a similar statement as Gabbay to the late Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri in 1997, he too intended to gather votes and nothing more.
"The writings of Zionism from the Second and Third Aliyah made extensive use of the sentence 'I am no longer a Jew but a Zionist.' Zionism sought to create a different identity, it sought to solve the problem of anti-Semitism not through assimilation but through transition from Judaism to nationalism," said Feiglin, who added that he believes the struggle between the Jewish idea and the Israeli idea continues to this day.
"Both Jabotinsky and Herzl did not observe the commandments. Menachem Begin had a warm Jewish heart, but in the end, we are a nation like all the nations with a little bit of tradition. Many people have forgotten that those who came here came for Zion."
Feiglin believes that his Zehut party will make the right connection between the two worlds.
"We must aspire to establish a new level of the Jewish people who have returned to their land and which was built on the basis of Jewish infrastructure and not Judaism alone. The Zehut party aims to create a synergy between Judaism and Israeliness."
Gabbay's statement was met with outrage from politicians from the left, including members of his own party.
Yesh Atid party chairman Lapid also attacked Gabbay over his statement, saying that "trying to decide for others what it means to be a Jew is outrageous.”
"He said that someone who does not believe in God is not Jewish. What, my grandfather was not a Jew? Why did the Nazis try to kill him? You can turn to the center, but you do not need to reconstruct Netanyahu's worst moments," said Lapid.