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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘feiglin’

We Are the Moral Compass

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

“There is an expectation of Zion to formulate a political monotheism that has never been formulated before.” (Emmanuel Levinas)

The importance of the caucus on organ harvesting in China, sponsored recently by the Liberal Lobby in the Knesset, cannot be exaggerated. On the surface, the caucus’s topic seems odd. Knesset members and other VIPs were called together to discuss horrors being perpetrated by the Communist regime in China against what the government there calls “regime opponents.”

Hundreds of thousands of peaceful citizens in China are imprisoned in camps and tortured in the most inhuman ways – and worst of all, their organs are harvested while they are still alive and sold for transplants throughout the world. Apparently the human bodies in the grotesque Body Show, recently exhibited in the Holy Land, was also supplied by these prisoners.

“You don’t have any more issues left here in Israel?” many people asked when we began publicizing the event.

“You don’t have anybody but China to start up with?”

“You don’t understand that you are harming Israeli interests? And what do you think, anyway? That anybody among the billion Chinese really cares what exactly you are talking about in the Knesset?”

It is not about the Chinese. It is about us, and how we perceive the essence of the Jewish nation and the return to Zion.

We have become so accustomed to the moral finger wagging in our direction, and for being blamed by holier-than-thou nations the world over for all sorts of “ethical lapses.” We have become so accustomed to the leftists in Israel who join the chorus that we haven’t even thought of the possibility that perhaps just the opposite is true. Perhaps the moral compass of the entire world is the People of the Bible; the nation that brought the world faith in the One God; the nation that, on the foundation of its belief in God, heralded the message of liberty for all mankind. We haven’t dared to think that the message of justice and liberty does not emanate from The Hague – but from Jerusalem. Despite the fact that deep in its consciousness humanity recognizes and even expects to hear this message from Zion, the Israelis have become grasshoppers in their own eyes – and thus, in the eyes of the world. This is the root of the condemnations and the relentless pressure brought to bear on Israel.

In other words, when you don’t fulfill your universal ethical role somebody else usurps it and you turn from the judge into the judged. If there is no construction being allowed today in Jerusalem, it is because Jerusalem is not fulfilling its universal role. If we are being pressured to apologize to Turkey and pay remands to the families of their dead and to those wounded from the Mavi Marmara incident, it is because when it was uncomfortable for us, we ignored our universal ethical role and did not take a stand against Turkey’s denial of the Armenian holocaust.

In explaining the demonization of Israel to Professor Ze’ev Tzachor, British intellectuals said, “We dreamed of a place where the new Book of Books would be written in preparation for the redemption of the world, for you, after all, are a treasured nation. The world had expectations, and now look what you have done.” (From an interview with Meir Uziel in Makor Rishon.)

The Chinese were very displeased with our Knesset caucus. They put pressure on me and on other Knesset members in an attempt to torpedo the conference. But they did not succeed. Things that may be difficult for Israelis to understand in Israel are easily understood in China. While Communists do not believe in God, essentially making everyone there slaves (China is one giant prison camp) they do have a long tradition of spirituality. They perfectly understand the value of the “treasured nation” status of the Jews. An ethical stand that emanates from the parliament of the People of the Book is less financially troubling than a similar stand coming from European parliaments. But its ethical weight is much greater – and the Chinese understand that.

Knesset members from across the political spectrum – Right and Left, haredi and secular – honored the caucus with their presence. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Rabbis Uri Cherki and Elyakim Levanon spoke at the event. The audience heard shocking testimony from a survivor of those camps and watched filmed testimony on what takes place there.

What Are They Crying About? (Conclusion)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The ultra-Orthodox were also on a sort of automatic pilot.

Their society did not talk about the redemptive process and all types of glorious concepts. They simply waited for Mashiach. They learned Torah, fulfilled the directive to settle the land of Israel in their own way, and protected their communities from the winds of heresy with all their might. The irreverent Zionists who suddenly decided to play state making reshuffled all their cards. After all, it cannot be that the Mashiach wears an Israeli farmer’s hat. For the ultra-Orthodox, a serene prayer at the Western Wall under the enlightened flag of her majesty is ten times better than the unnecessary wars that the “heretics” brought upon us.

But somehow, their logic continues, the “heretics” actually established a successful state. And to prove how serious they were, they even asked us to join in on the democratic game. Now that you have engaged us against our will in a state that we do not want, we will try to salvage as much as possible for our communities.

At first, it seemed that the competing religious ideology that viewed Zionism as a positive development was flourishing. The National Religious Party had 12 Knesset seats. They controlled the religious institutions. They were the source for Israel’s chief rabbis and engaged in dialogue with the state. The ultra-Orthodox approach seemed to have reached its end.

But then everything changed. The religious Zionists began to sink, their rabbis looked to the ultra-Orthodox rabbis for approval, their political institutions became increasingly less influential, the state scorned them, and their leaders paid homage to the rabbis in ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak – not to the rabbis in religious Zionist Kiryat Moshe.

For an entire generation, it seemed that the ultra-Orthodox ideology was more realistic. Proof of that was Aryeh Deri’s consistent observation that no government could be formed without Shas – true, until the past elections. And then it turned out that a government could be formed without Shas – with those very same religious Zionists whose influence had almost dissipated.

That is how the ultra-Orthodox ideological self-confidence evaporated – to be replaced by cries of pain and insult. It is always easiest to blame the rest of the world and not to make an accounting of your own ideology. That’s fine. The religious Zionists did the same thing. But ultimately, reality prevails.

In truth, the religious Zionist ideology was not destroyed. Its foundations were genuine. Those foundations also exist in ultra-Orthodox ideology.

The religious Zionists correctly understand the redemptive process. But their abundance of love caused them to relate to the state as a means – not as an end. Danger! From this point, it is very easy to descend into a soft type of fascism. It is a kind of idol worship, as the halachic decisions made by some religious Zionist rabbis obligating soldiers to obey orders to drive Jews from their homes testify. When the individual belongs to the state and not vice versa, when the state is both father and mother to its citizens, the resulting crisis is just a matter of time.

For their part, the ultra-Orthodox correctly understand the danger of the state – any state. But they completely miss the redemptive process, leaving them outside of history and even outside of society.

Just as the Gush Katif crisis opened the religious Zionists up to their surrounding Israelis, creating diversity and new options, the same will happen now to the ultra-Orthodox. Everybody will gain from this process – first and foremost, the state of Israel and Israeli society.

The state of Israel is stuck, and not only because it does not have an answer for the missiles from Gaza. Bereft of its faith, it is incapable of dealing with all the deep-level challenges of our era. That faith, existing among believers of all stripes and all ideologies, will rise out of the crises to create a faith-based Israeli culture – a new type of vision.

From Bondage to Liberty

Monday, March 25th, 2013

The results of the recent elections expressed a new national social agenda. The world of Left and Right to which we have become so accustomed is melting away. In the national consciousness, the old debate between peace and security has become irrelevant. Nobody really has high expectations from the peace process and most Israelis don’t really care about the settlements. The new agenda is on the continuum between existence and destiny: civil identity as opposed to Jewish identity.

The Knesset seats that could have gone to Likud went to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Naftali Bennett’s HaBayit HaYehudi. The Likud, which avoided speaking about its own ideology and did not even bother to publicize its platform, has leaned on the Left for years. As long as there were leftists, the Likud could identify itself as “not Left.” Prior to the elections, the splintered Left masked its ideology (with the exception of Meretz). The Left was no longer left. It looked like a Likud victory was going to be easier than ever.

But just the opposite happened. The Likud no longer enjoyed the energizing leftist contra. It no longer had the synagogue where it would never pray. The Likud remained without identity, while on both of its sides, parties that offered Israeli society identity – civil or national – flourished.

When Yitzhak Rabin’s granddaughter, Noa Rotman, blamed me this week for being responsible for her grandfather’s assassination, she brought society’s conversation back to that bad place. My first reaction was to ignore her accusations, but on second thought I understood that I had no choice but to demand an apology.

The struggle against the Oslo Accords encompassed a huge swath of society that was very seriously harmed and that suffered a painful process of demonization and dehumanization. It is not about a personal insult, but rather an insult to a broad public. Thus, I do not have the right to forgive this insult. If I were to do so, the demonization would never end. It is specifically the fear of a libel suit that will prevent more of these statements, and will clear the public domain so that we may continue the positive process of a shared search for meaning – a process that is already well underway.

More and more, I understand that the deep meaning of Judaism is embodied in the vision of liberty. The message of the holiday of Pesach – the message of liberty, from bondage to freedom so that we may shoulder the yoke of Heaven – is the quintessence of Judaism.

The struggle for Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount – the site of the holy Temple, the place chosen by the King of the world as the dwelling place for His Divine Presence – is actually humanity’s struggle in the transition from enslavement to liberty. It is no coincidence that the Exodus from Egypt has become the symbol of liberty and was the model for the founding fathers of the United States.

This is where we must lead the new Israeli consciousness: from bondage to liberty.

This column was translated from the Hebrew version, which appeared in Makor Rishon.

My Take On Pollard

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Here are excerpts of my Knesset speech regarding Jonathan Pollard’s incarceration:

I would like to thank Knesset member [Avishay] Braverman who openly told us that at least during a certain time period, Jonathan Pollard remained imprisoned because that was also the will of people here, in Israel.

This is a very important statement, which was said in an offhand way. But in my opinion, it is certainly possible that this problem still exists.

Jonathan Pollard is not a traitor. We have to look at Jonathan Pollard through Jewish, Israeli, Zionist eyes. Jonathan Pollard is an Israeli agent. He performed a service for us. It is unthinkable that we should look at Jonathan through American eyes.

Jonathan Pollard is a hero, a hero of Israel. He is a hero who risked his life for us. And who knows how many of us he literally saved.

I have no intention of signing the petition for Jonathan Pollard. It is just meaningless words. It is lip service. I have no intention of being dragged once again into processes that have nothing behind them. Similarly, in my evaluation, this petition will fade away when President Barack Obama arrives here if we, the MKs, do not take tangible action – and I intend to propose just such an action. With it, our loyalty to the person who we sent to risk his life for us will be put to the test.

Our brother, Jonathan, who risked his life for us as our envoy, was not the only one who ran to the Israeli embassy for protection on that bitter day 28 years ago. His direct handler, Colonel Aviem Sella, ran to the embassy with him.

The U.S. forcefully demanded that both men – the Jew and the Israeli – be handed over to them.

We betrayed the Jew, and handed him over to his captors – the FBI agents waiting outside.

As far as the Israeli, we proved that when Israel wants something, it can certainly stand firm. Aviem Sella was not handed over – and a way was even found to bring him back to Israel.

On that day I understood that the state of Israel is not really the state of the Jews. Israel is the state of the Israelis. And from this denial of its identity and its foundations, my friends, Knesset members, Israel is progressively losing the legitimacy for its very right to exist.

I have visited my brother, Jonathan, many times. When I saw him for the first time, I couldn’t stop my tears. It was awkward: he was the inmate, who, despite the terrible torture that he had endured, remained peaceful and calm while I, a free lark, was crying like a baby.

Since then, Jonathan’s picture is on the front door of my house. One cannot enter the Feiglin family home without remembering our brother, Jonathan.

The betrayal of Pollard continues until today. It is hard to believe, but the simple fact is that the prime minister then, the person who authorized the extradition and today serves as president of the state of Israel, until recently never officially requested Jonathan’s release. We often hear that Israel is doing its utmost. We heard that and we will continue to hear it. We will sign petitions. But an official request was never presented – until Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu did so after 20 years.

But the resolve is still missing. Our body language – and I am referring to the body language of the regime, not of the nation of Israel and not of the Knesset embers but the body language of those responsible – still says to the Americans, “Keep Pollard to yourselves, we don’t really want him here.”

The type of spying that Pollard conducted is carried out by U.S. agents in Israel as a matter of course and is public information. Israel has the ability to demand and receive our brother, Jonathan, if it wants. If we want!

The president of the U.S. will [soon] arrive in Israel and he will want to speak from this podium. Welcome to Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama – with my brother, Jonathan Pollard.

But if you continue to imprison my brother, Jonathan, you will have to speak to my empty chair. And I hope that more Knesset chairs than just mine will be empty.

It’s a Good Thing She’s in the Knesset

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

“I pledge my allegiance,” Arab MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) scornfully spit out at the Knesset inauguration ceremony. She gathered her belongings and demonstratively exited the plenum.

At that moment, I was reminded of a different Arab woman. That woman sat next to me, not in the Knesset but in the Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikva. I sat in the hospital room, next to my unconscious son. She entered at night, in traditional dress; perhaps she was from Gaza. She was accompanied by a fifty-something Israeli woman. She looked like she had just come to the hospital from an ivory tower.

The Israeli woman ran to and fro for the Arab, serving her as best she could. She filled out forms, made sure she was comfortable, brought her a chair, a cup of water. This went on and on, into the night. Not once did I hear the Arab say “thank you” or anything similar. On the contrary, she projected hostility. The more the Israeli served her, the more the Arab hated her.

In the morning, I concluded that she was right.

“What do you think?” the Arab woman accuses the Israeli in her heart. “That you can steal my land and afterwards bring me a cup of water and everything will be fine? You are on my land, Mrs. Wealthy. This is my land, this is my place, this is my hospital. You occupied me and now you expect me to thank you for helping me fill out forms in your language?”

The educated Israeli woman is intelligent and very moral. She is bursting with guilt feelings. The Arab doesn’t have to say a thing. The Israeli woman already knows that she is nothing more than a guest here, that the salt of the earth, the bedrock foundation of this land, is the Arab. She tries to appease her, to merit just a drop of legitimacy from the owner of the stolen house.

Somebody made a mistake one or two generations ago. Instead of assimilating into Europe, they were enchanted by a foolish idea and came to Israel for a complicated adventure of identity exchange. They came to find a place for the Jews under the sun in the land of their forefathers – under a new identity. The exile Jew fled to Israel – justifiably – from the religion of the exile. He tried to establish a new nation instead of the Jewish nation. He attempted to establish the Zionist nation, Israeli instead of Jewish.

The new Jew needs the Arab to adopt the Israeli identity that he invented. For if only a Jew can be an Israeli, we have accomplished nothing at all and will still remain alone with our Jewish identity. We have not found a place among the nations, but a place separated from the nations – precisely the exile condition from which we attempted to flee. Zoabi understood that the Israeli needs the Arab to help him forget that he is a Jew. “True, I broke the law,” Zoabi once insinuated at the High Court. “Let’s see you stop me from running for the Knesset. My entire party will drop out of the race and we won’t be there to hide your Jewish identity for you.”

I thought of Jonathan Pollard, whose life is slipping away from him in an American prison. I thought of him and his Jewish judges. I thought of the American Jews who bent over backwards to prove their loyalty to America. There, the Jews are hostages of their hosts. Here, in Israel, the Israelis are hostages of their guests. Of course it all depends upon to whom this land belongs. Those who feel like guests live on borrowed time; they always have to please the hosts.

It’s a good thing that Haneen Zoabi is in the Knesset. Her colleagues still suffer from a type of correctness toward the occupiers. They wait for the national anthem to be sung before leaving the plenum. As if all we have to do is let them skip the anthem and bring them a cup of water and the problem will be solved. But Zoabi isn’t playing around. She doesn’t allow us to flee from ourselves. She holds an intelligent, scathing and vital mirror to our faces. It is a mirror that constantly reminds us that we cannot exist in Israel for long without our Jewish identity.

A Messianic Vision: An Interview with Likud MK Moshe Feiglin

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

For over a decade, Moshe Feiglin, a Jewish Press weekly columnist, has been working toward becoming prime minister of Israel with the aim of “turning the state of the Jews into the Jewish state.” He still has ways to go, but on February 5, he advanced one step closer when he was sworn in as a Knesset member for the first time.

Ahead of a dinner celebrating his victory in the Chateau Steakhouse in Queens, NY on February 25, MK Feiglin spoke to The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press: You’ve been trying to get into the Knesset for a long time. Now that you’re in, what do you hope to accomplish?

Feiglin: I hope to advance the concept of Jewish leadership to the state of Israel – a state that is based on its Jewish identity and not just the concept of survival.

What does that mean?

One example is the two-state solution. If you understand that we came back to Israel after 2,000 years of exile to achieve a goal and not just to survive, then you understand we need the whole country. We long for Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, Schechem, Chevron – all these places that connect us to our identity.

When the goal is survival, Tel Aviv is enough. When the goal is to create a special society that carries a message to the entire universe, then questions like [surrendering land to the Arabs] are not even considered.

You often write that you want to create a Jewish state. For some people, this means a halachic state.

No, I’m talking about something much, much wider. I’m talking about making the Torah part of our culture.

Some people argue that a Jewish state means a state where Torah law reigns supreme – with police enforcing the laws of tzniyut, for example, as they do in Iran.

No, nothing can be forced. The whole concept of force is against Judaism because Hashem tells us, “U’bacharta ba’chaim” – you should choose, and if you’re being forced, you cannot choose…. The difference between Judaism and Islam is exactly that. God wants us to choose between life and death. Therefore, the whole concept of force is totally irrelevant.

Are you saying there was no force in the times of the Bayit Rishon or Bayit Sheini?

I’m saying that this is what we need today – a state that carries a message of freedom.

A number of years ago, you wrote that Israel should make Sunday a day off like it is in America. You argued that Israelis who love soccer, for example, would gladly move all professional soccer games from Saturday to Sunday and possibly observe Shabbat if Sunday wasn’t a workday.

That is a good example of how to build a modern Jewish state that gives its citizens the capability to have a real Shabbat even though they’re not religious right now. What we need to do is to be more open and give Israelis the ability to be who they [truly] are. If you give them the opportunity to choose, most of them will choose the right thing.

Some people would claim this argument is silly since Israelis are, by and large, secular.

I think they’re totally wrong. When you ask Israelis what they are first – Jewish or Israeli – more than 80 percent say first of all, and above all, they’re Jewish. When you ask Israelis to describe themselves, only 19 percent say they’re secular, 50 percent say they’re traditional and the rest say they’re dati or haredi. So those who say that [Israelis are secular] don’t really understand where Israeli society is holding.

In your articles, you often write about the importance of building the Beit HaMikdash, calling it “the direct link between the Almighty and His world” – a place that allows us “to synthesize between the physical and spiritual…to create a life of harmony between the two.” Your average Orthodox Jew, though, believes we must wait for Mashiach to build the Beit HaMikdash. You evidently don’t agree.

We just read in last week’s parshah,V’asu li mikdash” [“You should make a Sanctuary for Me”]. It doesn’t say “V’asu li haMashiach mikdash”[“Mashiach should make a Sanctuary for Me”]. “V’asu” means the people of Israel. So what can I tell you? It’s written clear and simple right there.

Excerpts From My First Knesset Speech

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

I have listened to all of [this new Knesset’s] debut speeches: excellent speeches, some of them virtuoso speeches. But when I listened to your speech, [Yesh Atid] MK Mickey Levy, a former police major general, a person who I was used to seeing on the other side of a great divide – you as a police officer; myself as a protester – when you spoke about how you lost your brother in the Jordan Valley, my heart skipped a beat.

I was a young platoon commander on duty in a reserve unit. A new regiment commander had been assigned to our regiment and the commander came to visit our position in the Jordan Valley. He asked me, in front of my soldiers, if all was well.

“No,” I answered.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Look over there,” I said to him. “Anybody can cross over that bridge and continue up that path there, hidden from view, come around the back of our position, enter without anybody even noticing, and shoot.”

Much to my surprise, the regiment commander became furious. He admonished me in front of my astounded soldiers and angrily left our position. I was confused. “He probably knows something that I don’t know,” I said to myself, putting the incident out of my head.

Our tour of duty finished. I came home. Approximately one year later, I heard that an IDF soldier was killed at that position in the Jordan Valley, precisely as I had warned. And here, Mickey, in our opening speeches in the 19th Knesset, this story has come full circle. (Editor’s note: At this point, Mickey Levy wiped tears from his face).

My heart ached. I was terribly angry at myself. I should have protested, left my position against the rules, and demanded the attention of the brigade commander. I should never have believed that my commanding officer knew something that I didn’t know.

Remember, members of the 19th Knesset, that when we adopt somebody else’s worldview, we betray our duty. The agenda in which we believe is our responsibility and our authority, and we must do all we can to bring it to fruition.

A few years later, the Oslo Accords came into our world. Once again, I clearly saw the catastrophe about to happen. I saw the thousands of victims and, even worse, the loss of legitimacy for our very right to exist as a state. For if you recognize the “Organization for the Liberation of the Land of Israel from its Jews” – the PLO – what can you possibly claim?

This time, I did not remain silent. The entire country stood and cheered the emperor’s new clothes and I insisted on telling the truth.

The civil disobedience we adopted in the Zo Artzeinu protests was the greatest display of liberty and democracy that the state of Israel has ever known. Unfortunately, those protests did not stop the Oslo Accords or the destruction of Gush Katif. Even though Tel Aviv is now targeted from the ruins of Gush Katif, the Oslo worm continues to destroy us from inside. Today, as we speak, Israeli forces are destroying Ma’ale Rehavam.

When, against all odds, we managed to restore the Likud and the national camp to power in 1996, it turned out that the Right really didn’t have an alternative to Oslo. Then I understood that the debate is not really between Right and Left. It is not a debate over territory. It is a debate of identity. It is a debate between the Jew and the Israeli. The fact that the Right ascends to power is not enough to stop the deterioration. It is imperative to infuse our national conversation with Jewish meaning and content.

Two thousand years ago, we went into exile and it was not at all clear how we would survive without the Holy Temple – bereft of the authentic Jewish culture of a nation in its homeland. Then the Jewish nation invented the most successful start-up in history. It is called the Jewish religion. Judaism, which is much more than just a religion, discarded its territorial dimension and became something adaptable to the individual, the family and the community, something that can be packed into a knapsack and moved to a new place every time the Jews had to flee violence and pogroms. Religion became the lifeline of the Jews in exile.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/excerpts-from-my-first-knesset-speech/2013/02/20/

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