The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
“We must demonstrate against [Ehud] Olmert,” said the voice over the phone.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because he is going to give up the Golan Heights.”
“I won’t be demonstrating,” I answered. “I won’t demonstrate against Olmert or against the media, not even against the justice system. I won’t demonstrate against giving up the Golan Heights. I don’t demonstrate against the missiles falling in Ashkelon and I don’t demonstrate against the firebombs thrown all too frequently at the entrance to my hometown. And even when Olmert will announce that he is surrendering Jerusalem, I will not demonstrate.”
I don’t demonstrate because I have nobody to demonstrate against. I don’t demonstrate because the father and mother of Zionism are long dead and buried. I have no national father to yell at. I have no political mother who will have mercy on me.
I am simply here alone, completely alone – with only myself. Who will I demonstrate against? The air? I can only demonstrate against myself, and berate myself for the things that I could have done to change our leadership – and didn’t do.
* * *
For the Jewish people, real life begins when they enter the Land of Israel. The intense experience of the exodus from Egypt (receiving the Torah and 40 years of wandering in the desert) was like a divinely inspired boot camp – preparation for entering the Land of Israel.
Our recent Torah portion of Shelach relates the tragic episode of the spies who discouraged the Israelites from leaving the desert boot camp to enter the Land. Our modern-day will to leave boot camp is not faring much better. The moment of truth is here, and our recruits are running away from the challenge. The entire world is in awe of the Godly resources that have been invested in our nation. The entire world anticipates our nation’s message – the wonder of the fusion of the divine and the mundane.
Western culture has created a religious world outside the parameters of the mundane. Eastern Islamic culture has created a religious world outside the parameters of the divine. In contrast, the message of the Jewish nation is the message of the connection between the divine and the mundane. That connection can occur in only one place – in the Land of Israel. But instead of inspiring the world with our message, the Jewish nation prefers to “admit” that the others are right – that the fusion of the divine and the mundane is impossible, after all.
The message that we are currently giving the world is that there is no such thing as the Torah of the Land of Israel, that the Torah is at most just another religion and that, like all other religions, it exists only outside of reality. Sometimes nations make mistakes. But when a nation ignores its divine destiny, the price is severe. The sin of the spies hounds us until this very day, and is repeated to this very day – particularly among the religious. While the religious will go head to head with the government to prevent the building of a highway over suspected Jewish graves (and that is fine), they will remain absolutely silent when the Temple Mount – the earthly palace of the King of the world – is plowed under. Better for the palace to remain in heaven!
And some who call themselves religious Zionists are doing no better. We proudly proclaim that religious Zionism has a new message for our nation, but in our hearts, we do not believe that the Torah that we learn is relevant outside the study halls. That is why so many religious Zionists fight against Manhigut Yehudit. They prefer their own desert boot camp, and do not understand why it spells political death.
Polls show the religious Zionist National Union party – with all its sub-parties – in a steady state of decline. The fact that the decline continues despite all the “unification” efforts to prop up the party shows that (although the leaders of the religious Zionist public may not yet feel it) the religious Zionist public is voting with its feet against the exile religious mentality. It is slowly but surely groping its way toward the Torah of the Land of Israel – toward reality and our Jewish destiny.
Moshe Feiglin is the founder and president of Manhigut Yehudit, the largest faction inside the Likud party. Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) strives to restore Jewish values, pride and integrity to the State of Israel. For more information, or to order Feiglin’s newest book, The War of Dreams, visit www.jewishisrael.org.
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Israel's Security and Defense Committee. He heads the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of Israel's governing Likud party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.
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