“Today Feiglin is the mainstream in the Likud” said the influential Nadav Peri on Israel’s Channel 10. “If the Likud members in Judea and Samaria had all voted Feiglin, he would have gotten 40 percent of the vote, and not 25 percent.”
My feelings were mixed. Objectively, 25 percent of the vote was an extraordinary achievement that promises even greater achievements in the future. I ran against a strong and popular incumbent who sprung the elections by surprise. The party machine was aggressively at his service. When – despite all this – one in every four (without taking all the stolen votes into account) Likud members votes Feiglin, it means that their hearts have been opened and the path to faith-based leadership is paved. It means that we can continue to progress until we will have the merit to finally lead the national camp and the country.
But these elections have left a bad taste in my mouth. Twenty-five percent of the vote is not enough to undermine the absolute hegemony that Prime Minister Netanyahu enjoys in the party. Despite our achievement and great progress, there are still no MKs or ministers who, after the election, draw their political power, and more importantly their legitimacy, from a different pole in the movement.
The political power of the loyal ministers and MKs has mainly remained tactical and limited. They can oppose Netanyahu until the moment that he will have them removed. Even though I received 25 percent of the vote, they are still in Netanyahu’s pocket. They can irritate him, but not much more than that.
How can we explain why lovers of Israel in Judea and Samaria campaigned against me? Not only did the national headquarters not endorse me, but they also went to great lengths and spent a lot of money to campaign against me while I was struggling against the prime minister.
At every historic juncture, when the Jews must enter a new level of consciousness – a situation of redemption – the majority will prefer to cling to the old order and will be lost. They will prefer to beg Pharaoh for just a bit more straw than to ask for redemption. Only 20 percent of the Jews in Egypt were redeemed. The rest were lost. Those Jews who left Egypt preferred to remain in the desert and not experience the revolutionary consciousness necessary to enter the Land of Israel. Only two giants of that generation were endowed with a different spirit. And the rest of the generation died in the desert.
When in the 1920s the British opened the gates of the Land of Israel and anticipated a huge wave of aliyah, the nation remained in the Diaspora, waiting for its horrifying annihilation. When we could have liberated Jerusalem in 1948, the government abstained. When the Temple Mount fell into our hands in 1967, we returned it to the Waqf. That is just the way we are: genuine “redemption refusers.” We recite the requests for the Temple day and night, and mouth our longing to rebuild it. But we don’t really mean it at all.
The faith-based public seems to be emotionally incapable of establishing an alternative to lead the country. Our refusal to shoulder the responsibility to transfer Israel from existential Zionism to destiny Zionism turns the religious Zionist public into sectoral extra baggage. It is not a coincidence that the settlers often find that they do not have the rights taken for granted by every citizen in Israel. Just as Israel loses its legitimacy in the world when it refuses to connect with its destiny, so the settlers who negate their destiny lose their legitimacy in Israeli society.
To my fellow Israelis, I say this: The door is open. Just start marching toward leadership, toward liberty, toward destiny. It is not easy, but it is doable. That is what we proved in these elections. The nation is waiting. It is yearning for a life of national meaning and anticipates your leadership. But many are afraid of victory, for if we win, Netanyahu and his ministers will leave us. You are afraid that someone who announces that he intends to give the land to our enemies will leave you.
You really have nothing to lose, as the results of this game are already clear. Every kindergarten or building that you will get will ultimately be lost – like in Yamit and Neveh Dekalim. They also had devoted community organizers who brought in money and building permits.
Here’s your choice: lead or be lost.
The choice is in your hands.