At the end of his column, “The Feiglin Bang” (published in Makor Rishon on March 23), editor Amnon Lord predicts one of two possibilities: Either I will lead the Likud with approximately 35 mandates or I will turn into the Uri Avnery (the radical leftist writer and media figure) of the Right.
In truth, I find the second possibility more appealing. After all, since Oslo, all of Israel’s prime ministers have taken the route charted out by Uri Avnery. We did not hear the idea to establish a state for the Palestinians in Israel’s heartland in a Bar-Ilan speech or in a virtuosic appearance before both houses of the U.S. Congress. We first heard it from Avnery. So if I could be the Right’s Uri Avnery, I would grab the opportunity. But due to my lack of appropriate talents, I will have to make do with the first alternative. And with God’s help, I will lead the Likud when the time comes.
Amnon Lord is convinced that when that happens, the Likud will not be able to form a coalition. But the very opposite is true. Not only will the Likud under my leadership win a large majority, but it will also form a broad coalition. Even more important, it will finally start to rule the nation – simply because it will know where it is going.
Lord did not figure in the growing thirst for Jewish meaning on the one hand and Israel’s growing existential distress – a combination of international demonization and our inability to address the threats on our cities from both Gaza and Tehran – on the other. He ignores the direction in which reality is developing and the inability of any leadership that is not faith-based to deal with Israel’s security, educational, and social challenges.
It is clear to me that the road to the Likud leadership is much longer and harder than the road from there to leadership of Israel. The Likud, as an authentic popular party, accurately represents the general public. If approximately one third of the Likud members have already freed themselves from the shackles expressed by Lord and chose the faith-based alternative for leadership of their party, this more or less reflects the current situation in Israel at large. In other words, we are at an excellent starting point.
The reason that Kadima is currently the largest party in Israel and actually defeated the Likud in the previous election, despite all the pre-election polls that showed the Likud winning 40 mandates, is because I was forced out of the Likud Knesset roster.
Lord’s article represents important progress. For the first time, a central writer in a newspaper geared toward the faith-based intelligentsia has dared to discuss the faith-based alternative as a realistic possibility.
The only sector of society that incorporates the elements needed to extricate Israel from its state of crisis is scared to death of its own message and of whoever tries to bring it to the public. It does not surprise me at all that the writer who did not grow up in the religious Zionist milieu is the person who is able to begin to deal with this possibility. By doing so, Lord has joined intellectuals from the Left, who of course attack and denounce me but do not ignore the message and the potential. This is particularly true of Yaron London, who wrote about the “only leader who evokes inspiration in Israeli politics,” and Avraham Burg, who spoke of “the only one who challenges Israel’s political paradigm.”
The setting from which Lord came maintains a very strong leadership mentality. That mindset understands that the combination of vision, leadership, and perseverance ultimately triumphs.
If we don’t want to see how the IDF (with all the religious soldiers and commanders), the courts (with all the religious judges), and the topnotch religious media are all washed away in the next round of Uri Avnery’s vision, we better stop attacking the faith-based alternative and instead join forces to make sure it prevails.