This is how it works: A minister or MK who steps out of line – opposing the destruction of the Ulpana neighborhood, for example – is immediately accused of “Feiglinism.” It makes no difference if the accuser is Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak. “This is simply terrible,” Kadima MK Nachman Shai explained on the afternoon news. “Feiglin determines the fate of the Likud MKs.”
Feiglin has become a code word for illegitimacy. When someone is accused of Feiglinism, the accuser no longer has to logically argue his point. “Beware,” said Defense Minister Barak to Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, “if you continue to promote this view, you will be field-marshaled by the Politically Correct Patrol.”
Is the balloon that the media inflate around Manhigut Yehudit real? Do we really determine political fate? What is the real influence of Manhigut Yehudit and of other ideological factions in the Likud?
There is no doubt that all of these factions exert influence. But that influence is far less than what the media attribute to them. True, there will be borderline candidates whose fates will be determined by our votes. But essentially, we are no different than any other voter or voting group in the Likud.
Countless groups, large and small, organize and coordinate their votes. This is the situation in almost every Likud branch. Approximately half of the Likud voters are part of an organized group. According to the numbers, Manhigut Yehudit is certainly an important influence within the Likud, but not as great as portrayed by the media. A diligent and capable MK will be able to get himself elected with or without Manhigut Yehudit.
But, unlike essence, numbers are not the whole picture. Livni, Barak and all the other Feiglinism alarmists are painfully aware that there is a real alternative growing in the Likud. The Likud is in power today because it is an authentic popular party with higher quality leaders. No other party has a leader who even nears the talent and experience of Benjamin Netanyahu.
On issues of essence, though, there is no real difference between the various major parties, not in foreign affairs and practically not in economics. With a bit of political savvy (social unrest plus a few media spins) the political opposition may actually manage to unseat the Likud and make Shaul Mofaz the new prime minister.
The person who is an essential threat to the Shimon Peres agenda that has been forced upon Israeli society since Oslo is none other than me. It is much more difficult to spin essence away. That is why they keep yelling about the contagious Feiglinism.
“What is your peace plan?” I was asked this week at a Likud meeting in rocket-weary Ashkelon.
“It is very simple,” I answered. “The Arabs will hear that Feiglin is prime minister, and there will be peace.”
That is not bragging; it is simply the truth. Today, we do not have peace because the Arabs have nobody with whom to make peace. The Arabs have caught on to our “just passing through” mentality, reflected by Israel’s leaders from all the parties. To make peace, you need a partner. Only the landowner can be a peace partner – and only if he is convinced and convincing that he has no intention of giving up his land. But if we are only passing through here, there is nobody with whom to make peace. If there is a problem with a guest, everybody just tries to hasten his departure.
Those who are truly committed to peace should do all they can to ensure that Feiglinism spreads far and wide.