Friday, December 5, 2014

The Moshe Feiglin Problem

Too often my blog posts about Israeli politics get comments claiming that Moshe Feiglin is the solution to our problems, and then the commenters are upset when I don't agree with them. Since, again, we are preparing for Knesset Elections here in Israel, this seems to be a good time to explain my position.

First of all, yes, I agree with many of Feiglin's stated positions/ideology/platform. But as a long-time political pundit, blogger, writer and having been on the fringes, and even closer, to the Israeli political scene and system, most specifically the Right, the Likud and its forerunners, Herut and Gahal and Techiya, I do have a perspective much broader, deeper and larger than most people. And yes, I'm old and made aliyah in 1970. Over the decades, close to half a century, I've met and known a large number of Likud and other Israeli Right politicians.

I'm also rather pragmatic in my way of thinking and have a tendency to remember what others would prefer I'd forget.

From experience I'm rather cynical when it comes to politics, and I take for granted that not only are campaign promises made to be broken but one of the biggest dangers is projected our values and thought processes on politicians, especially those in the Likud.

  • No Israeli political party has done more to destroy Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel than the Likud.
  • No Israeli political party has destroyed more Jewish businesses than the Likud.
  • No Israeli political party has disappointed and shocked its voters/supporters than the Likud.
  • No Israeli political party has a party bureaucracy stronger and impervious to change and influence than the Likud.
When Moshe Feiglin first announced his entry to the Likud leadership race, he did it in the most obnoxious, rude and guaranteed to fail way possible. He insulted the veteran party members telling them that he and only he was the real Likud, and he would take over. Considering the ingrained long-time party establishment well-embedded in the Likud Central Committee, its judicial etc., Feiglin's boasts could never be taken seriously. There isn't a way for him to take over the party. Not even Arik Sharon and Ehud Olmert, who is a brilliant and experienced political manipulator raised in a Revisionist home, managed to take over the Likud. Two elections ago, Bibi had no problem getting the Likud "court" to approve overriding the primary results to guarantee his candidates over those Feiglin supported. Notice that I wrote "Feiglin supported." I didn't write "Feiglin supporters," because very few of those whom Feiglin told his people to vote for actually identified with and supported Feiglin.   

Feiglin will not take over the Likud. He will never be elected party leader. 

Now, if Moshe Feiglin had really wanted to change the State of Israel, to have a greater influence over domestic and foreign policy bringing it more to the Right, he would have joined with people like Arieh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari. Feiglin is just the person to take them from the Right wing fringes into a power base. Their basic policies are the same. What Eldad and Ben-Ari have been missing all this time is the excellent organizational and fundraising skills of Feiglin. 

Yes, I do see Feiglin as having intelligence and talents, but I totally disagree with "plan." And to be perfectly honest. I really wonder if he, himself, takes his plan all that seriously. Maybe he just aims to fund-raise to campaign...


Avraham Goodman said...

Very well written Batya but I disagree on a few points:
1) Labor caused more damage by passing Oslo.
2) Eldad & Ben Arie are two loose cannons who are more content to rant & rave & march through arab communities & cause mayhem than joining any government.
3) Labor also has the same bureaucracy.
Yehuda & Shomron are the backbone of our country, but you can't run a country based only on that.

Yonatan said...

Moshe Feiglin's strategy goes way beyond what Eldad and Ben Ariyeh do - he actually has plans that make sense to us, not just be against something or for something. His popularity is growing immensely. When Moshe last ran against Bibi for the leadership of the Likud in 2012 he got 23% of the vote. I venture to guess that he's going to do a lot better this time around. In 2012, there were very few of my friends that had even heard of him, now there are many that actively support him.

Batya said...

Yonatan, that's not progress.

And Avraham and Yonatan, I'd love for them all to work together, since they have different talents.

Rick S Geiger - Call Me @585-230-5511 said...

I don't know about the politics, but I do believer that Feiglin is right about one thing, and that is as long as Israel shows to the world that it does not think that the Jews are the rightful owners of all of the land of Israel, including the Temple Mount, all the correct and effective politics in the world will not help the primary situation. Oslo has set Israel back 20 years and if it is not erased completely the odds of the current precarious situation getting better are unfortunately, very low. At least Feiglin is crystal clear on this issue. Are there any other viable pols that are as crystal clear as Feiglin is??

debby fayga said...

I would agree with you, Batya Spiegelman Medad however the problem is that OTZMA do NOT have the ability to get their platform out to the millions of voters--they are unknown by the average Israeli. No one knows if they even can get the minimum 4 seats, last time they did not. I was there in Jerusaelm during the campaign and had the pleasure of meeting Arieh Eldad, a fine man indeed. I have read his father's books. I agree with him. I like Ben Arie, he is a strong Jewish rights advocate.
These men with their wonderful ideals have never had gained enough seats to even get into the the Knesset ---let alone the coalition government. The biggest problem I see that can be dangerous for Israel leadership is fragmenting the new right coalition altogether, with too many parties. The splintering off from National Religious Party did not serve them well, in the last elections.
I agree with you that Moshe Feiglin has no power under Bibi, and that Likud did horrendous things during their reign, but under the present electoral system no one has power but the PM. AND the electoral system structure is to blame for this.
IF there were direct elections and two year terms, other good principled people would have a chance to rise up to the occasion. If you advocate for Otma you will be throwing your votes in the trash can. Those votes will not be transferred to other parties, they are gone.This will have the dire effect of weakening the right coalition. Weakening Naftali Bennett chances perhaps. He too is imperfect but I grade on a curve, I think he has a different makeup than the present PM- and given a chance to have power will do much more for Jewish rights in Israel and Judea and Samaria. It is the electoral system that is to blame for the lack of good leadership.

debbyfayga said...

One more thing-----Something else to consider is that the left is now discussing trying to organize a coalition party where all the left and their fragmented parties, maybe including Balad, get together to unify in order to win the election. No sure it will work. but it could happen. They see what I do, that unless you have real political power, you cannot form a coalition government. Better to vote for Bennett if you are right of Likud.

Batya said...

Debbyfeiga, Bennett is running as Center with Right candidates on his list.
Those Right candidates plus Feiglin plus Eldad and Ben-Ari etc would be best. I can dream...

Batya said...

Rick, yes, Feiglin's platform is good, but his tactics are bad.

Yonatan said...

It's not progress? Define progress, winning only? His message is resonating with many people. Whether he wins or not, he is waking people up to the real facts, not the political garbage.

Yonatan said...

You start off this blog post with "Too often my blog posts about Israeli politics get comments claiming that Moshe Feiglin is the solution to our problems". Doesn't this show you something? Even you recognize that his backing is growing.

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod said...

This post has been included in this week's Haveil Havalim: The Vayeshev Version, a roundup of the best of the Jewish blog world. Come on back and pay us a visit!

register for Likud already! said...

the splinter party method has already been tried to death and failed. Feiglin's method sees more success at each election. in 2003: 3% of the vote. 2007: 13%. 2009: 25%. 2013: 25% + a knesset seat. Feiglin will win (IY"H) for precisely the reason Sharon and Olmert failed: because the Likud base does not want Likud to become another Labor. And speaking of Labor: when Feiglin joined the Likud party, it just happened to be the only right-wing party in Israel which held primaries. In other words, the least beaurocratic. Likud has the longest democratic tradtion of any party in Israel, as a student of Israeli political history would know. Labor did not have primaries until 1992, Bayit Yehudi not until 2012, other parties still dont. I still dont know if labor even has a court system, like Likud does.

You are correct that Feiglin antagonized the Likud leaders when he first joined. But things have changed. He is now more respectful towards them, and they are more respectful towards him. For more details, please refer to "Moshe Feiglin: The Riddle" on youtube.

In summary, we have two options: not vote at all (or its equivalence, namely voting for a small party which will have no influence), or try our only hope, which is to vote for real leadership in the Likud primaries. Although he doesn't need our support anyways these days, his appeal among the Likud base is very broad these days.

Batya said...

Likud is a Center party voted in by Right supporters.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly that Feiglin's ideas are detrimental to Israel (and to humanity as a whole). Many rightly view this individual as a racist hate-monger, sort of Israel's version of David Dukes. The fact that multiple commenters here would consider his recommendations for ethnic cleansing to be anything other than abhorrent is frightening.

Peter from Canada

Rick S Geiger - Call Me @585-230-5511 said...

The only racists are the islamists that have imposed racist apartheid against the Jews in every arab country. The Jews are the indigenous people of all of Isreal and the arab leaders have openly stated their racist goal of genocide of the Jews. The arab leaders are nazis and they need to be defeated. Vote for Moshe Feiglin

Batya said...

a, you're totally wrong
Rick, Feiglin is history. Sorry

Rick S Geiger - Call Me @585-230-5511 said...

Well, Batya, you could be right, but that does not change the facts:

Israel currently has a government that supports the creation of an islamist terrorist state in the middle of Israel

Israel currently has a government that supports racist apartheid against the Jews.

Israel currently has a government that is supplying Hamas with materiel' and money to murder Jews

And Israel currently has a government that is totally incompetent at PR and getting out the message that the Jews belong in Israel as the people of Israel and not "occupiers."

Of course the Left is even worse, but without a course change Israel will soon be faced with an UN mandate to create the new terrorist state in the middle of Israel, give up Jerusalem and basically be destroyed. The status quo with Likud is doom for the Jews

Batya said...

I keep saying that I don't care if Likud wins or loses. They do an awful job.