“If this bill passes, Israel will have to announce that there will be no negotiations over Jerusalem. The real significance of that is that we completely halt the negotiations taking place today” (Justice Minister Tzipi Livni from the Knesset podium commenting on the Jerusalem Bill proposed by MK Yakov Litzman. The bill would have made negotiations over Jerusalem contingent on the approval of 80 MKs).
Everyone knows that Litzman proposed the Jerusalem Bill strictly to embarrass the governing coalition. Everyone knows that in the opposite situation, he and all of his ultra-Orthodox colleagues would have voted against the exact same bill. Everyone knows that this bill had no chance of passing. But nonetheless, Litzman achieved two things, albeit unintentionally:
1) He extracted an explicit admission from the minister conducting the diplomatic negotiations (Livni) that Jerusalem is on the table; and 2) He showed in the deepest and most fundamental manner that in the Israeli reality, the national camp is simply absent.
The situation was embarrassing. “The Likud has a contagious flu,” the radical left Meretz and Arab MKs gloated at the sight of the empty seats of the Likud, Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu MKs. The vote on the Jerusalem Bill was held by roll call. The secretary of the Knesset called out the names of the MKs one by one and announced, “Not present, not present.” I sat there, between the empty seats, and thought to myself that what she was saying is true: In the Israeli reality, only the left and the Arabs are present. The ultra Orthodox do not want to be present and the nationalists are incapable of being present.
I see how – more than ever – the deconstructionist values and laws in Israel are gaining momentum. There are the laws designed to deconstruct the status of the normative family. They are disguised as equality for those with different sexual orientations, victims of discrimination, and protection for battered women. These bills are making their way through the Knesset more successfully than ever. And specifically so in a “nationalist” coalition.
“Have you ever tried to ask yourselves how it is that we are passing bill after bill to protect women, while more women than ever are being murdered by their partners?” I asked the Meretz MKs. Obviously they had no answer, as it did not really interest them. The legislation is not really meant to protect women; the real goal is the deconstruction of the family unit.
Not only are social values deconstructing at an accelerated rate, but we are also experiencing territorial deconstruction. The government announced that the Prawer Law to regulate Bedouin settlement in the Negev was suspended. But that is not true. The law is in its final stages of preparation in the Knesset Interior Committee, and they are working on it feverishly.
“How can you support this law, for it gives the entire central Negev to the Bedouins as a gift? Isn’t the Negev part of the Land of Israel?” I asked Jewish Home MKs.
“So what do you suggest?” they answer me. “After all, we must solve the problem.”
“Full equality,” I answer. “We must treat the Bedouin land-grabbing crime as we would if the perpetrator were Jewish. The Bedouins have not managed to prove their ownership of the land for over 40 years. Now the government must restore its full sovereignty in the Negev and develop and market the lands there as it sees fit.”
“After we pass the law, we will have the legitimacy to do just that,” the religious Zionist MKs explain to me.
“Just like how Rabin promised that if the Arabs will shoot at us from the weapons that we gave them, we will let them have it. And just like how Sharon promised that when we retreat from Gush Katif, we would gain international legitimacy,” I answered.
The Prawer Bill is not about regulation; it is about gaining international legitimacy. And just like the aforementioned examples, it will achieve the exact opposite.
And what about the struggle for the sovereignty of the nation against Israel’s High Court? Have we progressed on that front or is the right-wing coalition also advancing deconstruction of the sovereignty of the people? In this case, it is liberty that is being deconstructed. We saw how the coalition suspended the will of the voters in three major cities in Israel after the High Court demanded that the newly elected mayors should be fired.
And yes, Iran will cross the threshold into nuclear capability on the rightist coalition’s watch.
Now we are negotiating on Jerusalem, and the entire national camp – with no exception – is simply absent.
Don’t get me wrong: the religious Zionist MKs are wonderful people. My love of the Land of Israel is not greater than theirs and my “righteousness” cannot compete with that of the Jewish Home MKs. So why was I the only one to vote in favor of Litzman’s bill? Why am I the only one opposing the Prawer Bill? Why am I the only one opposed to giving the High Court even more power?
Who here is sane?
The multifaceted national camp always manages to get lost inside the political fog. The left is always present, the right never. Even when the left is a small minority in the Knesset, it continues to set the public agenda and to actively control society. The left steers us in the direction it wants Israel to take. It mirrors Israeli society.
The right has no “public figure.” It has no real horizons. That is why it doesn’t understand where political games give way to essence. For the right, politics will always be more important than essence – even if Jerusalem is at stake.
That is because the right has no real alternative to the left’s deconstructionist values. The alternative to the left is not the right and it is not religion in the narrow sense of the word. It is not even the strange combination of the two. The alternative is to reconnect to our Jewish identity, our Jewish values, and our Jewish destiny.
This column was translated from the Hebrew version, which appeared in Makor Rishon.Moshe Feiglin
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He heads the Zehut 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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