Rabbi David Fine, founder and Dean of the Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics & Community Development, tells Israel National News in a special interview why he is running in the primaries for the Religious Zionist Party.

“I don’t see politics as being a bad word. In the United States, I didn’t see an option in politics in order to influence… When I got to Israel 14 years ago from Kansas City where I was a community rabbi, I saw a plain old Jew like me is able to really make a difference. That’s what’s special about Israel.”

“I’d like to especially represent [olim from English speaking countries] in the Knesset. There are a lot of issues that people who make aliyah deal with. Many Israelis who were born here don’t necessarily understand what all those issues are. A strong anglo voice in the Knesset who knows how to get things done will be able to resolve many of these issues.”

He also feels that he can bring new voters to the Religious Zionist Party.

“I find the party to be a big tent. I’ve spoken to all the Knesset members, especially [Religious Zionist Party Chairman] Bezalel Smotrich, and I find them willing to listen, willing to be disagreed with, and willing to welcome people like me,” he explains. “I’ve spoken to other parties and they weren’t so ready to hear what I had to say. And [Smotrich] and his colleagues, I called them and I said I had some ideas from America that I think could help the State of Israel, 30 seconds later I got a call from Smotrich’s secretary.”

He explains that Israelis who made aliyah want to have a chance to be “at the decision making table” running the country, and adds that they have a lot to offer, including unique experiences from their countries of origin.

“We have a lot of good ideas [about running the state] that we bring with us from wherever we come from, that your average Israeli is not so aware of. We love this country, we’re Zionists, we gave up a lot to come here. And we want to be at the decision making table in order to make the state even better.”

What are his ideas to contribute to running the country?

“I’ve seen Knesset members make a very small change on one line of a bill that can make a huge change in people’s live,” he says. “It's under the radar screen but in order to know how to do that you have to learn the system. So at the very beginning I don't want to make any huge promises, any grand announcements. I’m not your regular politician, I do what I say I’m going to do, so I’d like to learn the system and understand how to really be pragmatic and bring about real change.”

He adds: “This is not about David Fine, this is about the State of Israel and I want to do whatever I can do to help the party because I think that the Religious Zionist Party is the best way for me to try and enrich the entire country.”

Rabbi Fine recounts that an encounter with a neo-Nazi in the United States was one of the experiences that got him thinking about aliyah in 2005.

He recalls that he was at the Kansas City airport, where he served as a rabbi, and had come straight from a cemetery where he had performed a funeral for a Holocaust survivor.

“I was walking in the airport and I saw a man dressed in full regalia, with a neo-Nazi red shirt with a white circle with a huge black swastika, army pants, buzz cut, tattoos all over his arm, earrings, Nazi symbols, and so I just went up to him, I didn't want to start a big thing but I wanted him to know that at least one person was not going to let him get away with that. All I did was go up to him and I said very softly, ‘You should be embarrassed for dressing that way in public and I simply walked away.'”

Rabbi Fine says that about two minutes later the man followed him and accosted him.

“He got right up into my face as close as you could possibly get without actually touching me and he said to me you’re not a human being because you’re Jewish. I’m not a violent person, and I don’t advocate violence but I thought he could have had on a knife or something like that and I was actually quite afraid… so I punched him in the face and I had a Starbucks hot coffee and I threw that in his face. Then he started attacking, trying to attack me, and some off-duty Kansas City cop broke us up. We both got arrested. We both had to appear in court. But as Dennis Prager said on his radio show a few months later, ‘How could it be that a neo-Nazi appears in 2005 in a major airport in the United States and no one except Rabbi Fine says anything to him.’”