" Thou comest to me with a sword and a spear and a shield, but I come to thee in the name of the L-rd of Hosts, the G-d of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast humiliated..." (I Samuel, 17:45-47)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On Feiglinites: Part II

Say what you will, those Feiglinites sure are a sensitive bunch. My last post, "On Feiglinites", agitated some of the die-hards. Several posted their comments (always appreciated, even when we disagree), many more sent emails. Apparently, they weren't so happy with what I wrote about them. What was meant as satire (stereotyping them as asthmatic pencil-necked "nebs" and blind followers) bothered them. I'd like to apologize for the generalization, which I only meant in jest. Some of my best friends are asthmatic pencil-necked nebbish Feiglinites. (Sorry. I couldn't help myself.)

Allow me to be serious. In truth, I assume that most of Feiglin's supporters are intelligent people. Stop being so sensitive. My problem with Feiglin isn't personal. He's committed, he's G-d fearing, and he makes a lot of sense. True, being a "respectable" person, his platform neglects to mention the the halachic obligation to throw the Arabs out of the country. But his general platform is sound. My problem is that I disagree with his tactic of trying to rehabilitate the Likud Party. I don't see it working for him. I also think that it's dangerous.

I added a gadget at the bottom of my blog that posts reader's comments. Read some of them. It's like I've been saying. The same platitudes about Feiglin being the savior. The same talking points. I'm accused of "kvetching", "being irrelevant", and "sitting on the sidelines". For once, I'd like to hear a "Feiglinite" respond with a cogent defense of Manhigut Yehudit that addresses the following Likud transgressions:
  • Sinai Give-Away: The Likud is a golden calf that isn't fit to be worshipped. Feiglin's premise is that the Likud can be saved. I contest this basic premise by stating that his image of the historical Likud is a myth. At the first opportunity they had to show the integrity of their ideology, the Likud party (under Menachem Begin, of all people) gave away the Sinai to the Egyptian animals.
  • Likud & Intifada I: The Likud (along with Labor) failed to crush the first intifada.
  • Likud Corruption: The Likud joined hands with Labor in 1988 to ban the Kach party. As Rabbi Kahane predicted, the rejection of Kach was a prelude to embracing Yasser Arafat, y'mach s'hmo v'zichro. Recently, the Likud allowed Bibi to strip Feiglin of a Knesset seat that he earned honestly. To my knowledge, there was no serious grassroots efforts from the "true Likudniks" within the party to fight this injustice. Social Rule #1: When they don't want you at the party, don't go to the party. The hell with them. Have your own party.
  • Likud Treason: Likud was complicit in the Madrid Conference which led to Oslo. The Likud kept Oslo going when the treasonous "death treaty" was first signed. Bibi I promised to end it. Then he handed over Hebron to Arafat and his PLO vipers.
  • Those who supported Feiglin, empowered the same Likud that expelled 1000 Jews from their homes in Gaza and handed it over to Hamas. What did we get? Kassam rockets. It won't be long before the entire middle and southern part of the country will be as vulnerable as S'derot. (While the North gets bombarded from Hezbollah/Lebanon.)
  • Today the Likud continues this insanity under Bibi II, who as it turns out is even worse the second time around. While Bibi speaks of the creation of a Palestinian state and initiates an unprecedented freeze on building and development in the liberated areas, he still retains the support of his loyalists. I know they don't want to hear it, but Manhigut Yehudit has empowered Bibi to carry out his insane policies. All in the name of saving the Likud. The fact of the matter is that the core of the Likud is standing with Bibi as he drags the country to the edge of the cliff.
One reader, Shtuey, posted an excellent comment. One particular point sums up the problem in a nutshell. Shtuey noted the following:

"Bibi is preparing to give up the Golan, and divide Jerusalem. What is Feiglin going to do about this? He's talking about getting more people to join Likud. Is he not paying attention? No one is going to call for new elections. The Likud Central Committee is not going to change this freeze policy, nor is it going to elect a new leader of the party now. By the time there are new elections, the destruction of Israel will be fait accompli."

Here's one guy who gets it.

I present a challenge to any Manhigut Yehudit supporter who would like to explain to me why I am wrong. An intelligent discussion without the talking points and platitudes. I want to hear a logical defense of the movement, not bombastic assertions that Feiglin is going to be the next Prime Minister of Israel. Not references about his detractors (including myself) being "irrelevant."

Pretend that we're at a conference and you're trying to recruit new members. I presented my reservations to you about joining a party that I consider to be as dangerous as Meretz. The ball is now in your court. I'm waiting for a response.


  1. Daniel, I'm honored and pleased to be quoted here. I have heard Feiglin himself talk about how Bibi will slice and dice the land of Israel, but where is he? While Danny Danon and Tzipi Hotobeli are chronically trying to mobilize what is passing as the Likud nationalist camp, where is Feiglin? Does anyone honestly think that appearing on Yishai and Friends' "Manhigut Monday" is going to stop this nonsense?

    The hope of Israel lies in the strength of the people, like the teenagers that are blocking the Civil Administration Gestapo from entering Yesha communities, and building on the hilltops. The recycled politicians flapping their arms like chickens...they're the reason things are so screwed up in the first place. Looking to them for answers is like asking the Arabs to stop hating us...there is a greater chance of my genetically engineering a pig that chews its cud.

  2. The honor is mine. You're a man of truth, and your comments are always welcome here. Keep speaking the truth.

    Chanukah Sameach & Shabbat Shalom

  3. Thank you my brother, and to you as well. Let's hope the truth of Chanukah penetrates every Jew this year.

  4. The reason I support Feiglin is not so much for his Likud policy. That's the execution, but I don't care as much about the execution. I care about the ideas.

    And it's in the ideas that Feiglin is head-and-shoulders above everyone else. The problem with the NRP and Bayit ha-Yehudi, etc., is that they keep billing themselves as the parties for the religious. They keep to sectarian politics, not different in essence from what the Haredim do. Give us our petty little demands, and we'll join your coalition.

    By contrast, Feiglin actually aspires to run the country. He says to Labor and Likud: we religious people too have aspirations and national visions. We aren't concerned with only ourselves; we are concerned with the nation and its policies no less than the seculars.

    Feiglin is the political equivalent of a Habadnik. He isn't satisfied with having his own little sect off on the side. Instead, he tries to connect with the seculars in any way he can. Thus, he tries to market Jewish education in Israeli public schools as teaching Jewish history and literature like all countries teach their own history and literature. He talks about how Oslo is a security disaster from a purely pragmatic standpoint, and he rewords qedushat ha-aretz as being Jewish historical legacy and heritage to the land of Israel since Biblical times. The point is, Feiglin tries to talk to the seculars on their terms. Feiglin will talk about democracy, real John Locke-ian democracy, and show how Israeli fascism has nothing to do with Alexis de Tocqueville and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He wants to do qiruv, and so the same way that Moshe Rabenu spoke about this-wordly reward and punishment as a carrot for the masses, Feiglin tries to make his vision palatable for the non-religious. He doesn't lie, but he'll frame his message in such a way that even non-religious Zionists who care about Israel will agree with him. He's like Rabbi Haim David Halevi; Rabbi Halevi was a traditional Turkish Judeo-Spanish Sephardi rabbi, and yet Reform rabbis routinely quote him in their shu"tim; why? - because Rabbi Halevi tried his best to make Judaism as easy and approachable as he could, for the sake of bringing the non-religious closer. Even when Rabbi Halevi was too strict for the Reformers, as he often was (Rabbi Halevi kept kashrut and Shabbat!), the Reformers still felt close to him, because they knew he cared about them.

    By contrast, NRP and its successors were/are happy with their own sectarian tents. Give us settlements, and we'll let Labor and Likud run the country. You see it in their marketing: they say to people, 'If you're religious, vote for us!'. Feiglin would be appalled at such a statement.

    I have a friend that he suggested a compromise solution: let all the Feiglinites and NRPniks together form a new party, but not just any party. Just as Kadima split from Likud to form a party that wanted LEADERSHIP, let Feiglin and NRP join together to make a LEADERSHIP party. Not just another sectarian party, but a party that really aspires to take on Likud toe-to-toe. It's the best of both worlds: it combines Feiglin's universalism and qiruv and anti-sectarianism, with the NRP's not funneling extra votes to Bibi.

    But until then, I vote for Feiglin. Not because I support his being in Likud, but because he has no competition. He's the only one talking the way he does, and so I have no choice. That he is in Likud is in execution, but I couldn't care less. I care only about the ideas being executed, and Feiglin has a monopoly on them.

  5. And Feiglin is the only one who can cogently discuss political theory. Have you seen what he says about civil disobedience? He's a real follower of Ghandi and King. When Feiglin discusses IDF soldiers disobeying orders, you realize that Feiglin "gets it". Feiglin really understands the issues.

    See his articles on the subject: Insubordination Can Save Israel and Between Conscientious Objection and Anarchy.

    Feiglin inspired me enough to write my own article on IDF insubordination: Why I Won't Serve in the IDF: Being Jailed For IDF Conscientious Objection

  6. B"H

    The problem with Feiglin is (at least) two-fold. First, I see his message as a more or less correct one, I don't have major problems with his opinion or with his platform. What I have a big problem with is what he does with it: he drains off the best of the precious Jewish nationalistic support and syphons it right back to the heart of the corrupt, un-Jewish, secular system. This is one. Two: as Jews we should be interested in what the Torah wants from us as Jews and not in what we think is the right thing to do under given circumstances. This is called arrogance. My strong opinion therefore is that as knesset is not a Torah institution, a Jew should do everything in his power to distance himself from it and reject it. This implies no part-y membership, of course no candidacy and also, most importantly, a big NO to the vote. Voting Is A Big Jewish Sin. So Please, Swollow Your Ego And Do Not Vote!

  7. Excellent points Ariel. There are those who get it and those who don't. The true Feiglin supporters are not getting it and I fear that they never will. They see everything as an attack on the man, and refuse to address the issues we raise. The Likud is worse than a dead-end. It is as full a partner in the destruction of Israel as the "classical Left" is. It's time for a Torah solution, which is the only solution.


What do you think? I'm interested in your comments.