The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
There we, Manhigut Yehudit’s strategy team, sat for our first strategy meeting ahead of the upcoming primaries. “According to Likud law, primaries for the party chairmanship will be held in about a year,” I said, “and we have to prepare now.” We spent hours discussing different ideas and assigning tasks and projects. As people began heading for the door, somebody read aloud a headline that had just come through over the Internet: “Netanyahu Calls for Primaries on Jan. 31.” “Very funny,” someone said, laughing. But it wasn’t a joke. Our entire meeting had just been rendered irrelevant. We had only seven weeks (from when the strategy meeting took place) until the primaries. My phone began to ring, with reporters asking for my reaction to Netanyahu’s bombshell. “I will run for the head of the Likud no matter when primaries will be held,” I declared.
Why run? And why run on such short notice, when Netanyahu obviously has a clear advantage?
The greatest threat hanging over Israel’s head – greater than a nuclear Iran – is the loss of our legitimacy to exist as a Jewish state. From our long and difficult history we know that the delegitimization of our right to exist ultimately leads to annihilation.
We have rightfully “earned” the existential question mark hovering over our heads, after years of evasion and the blurring of Israel’s Jewish identity. Faith-based Jewish leadership that will rally Israeli society around its Jewish identity is nothing less than an existential imperative.
“But you don’t have a chance,” people say to me. My answer to that is that no revolutionary vision has a chance at the start. But when pursued with determination, the vision always turns out to prove itself well connected to reality. This means that as long as I do not give up, I am always winning. The Wright Brothers’ first successful flight turned all the crashes that preceded it into part of the success story. The principle was right and with their perseverance, they ultimately succeeded.
In the previous primaries, I received 25 percent of the votes. In the primaries before those, I gained more votes than all the other candidates (including senior government ministers at the time). That would not have happened if I had not dared to run the first time, when I received only 3 percent of the vote.
Ultimately, the most realistic thing in the world is the fulfillment of God’s will. The Creator has not guarded the Nation of Israel for the past 3,000 years, restoring us to our land after 2,000 years of exile, just to establish another Western, democratic, liberal province on the very piece of land that the “oppressed” Palestinians claim as their own.
Israel has a national destiny and a universal message to bring to the world from Zion. That is the reality. To continue to exist and flourish, the State of Israel needs Jewish leadership. It needs leadership that understands the nation’s destiny and strives to fulfill it. The question is not whether we will win the primaries for the Likud leadership. The question is when we will win and lead our nation. We will win, because we are the only candidates in the national leadership arena that are connected to reality.
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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