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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘feiglin’

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.

Will the Likud Remain Democratic?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

One piece of political news that probably went unnoticed to most, especially among all the coalition-negotiation rumors, was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering cancelling the Likud’s primaries.

An article about this was first published on Jan. 28th,  just after the Knesset election on Israel’s Walla news site. Then, over the last few days it sprung up again in Ma’ariv/NRG and Yediot. Another Feb. 10 article in Ma’ariv claims that the Prime Minister intends to have the primaries cancelled before ministers are sworn into the government – that is, potentially in a matter of weeks.

To most people this is just internal party politics, but it’s really not. It directly affects the democratic nature of the State of Israel. In Israel, voters do not choose individual candidates, they choose slates. In effect, there are 120 legislators, but not a single representative. The candidates themselves are chosen via internal party processes – sometimes by a committee – a larger “central committee” or a smaller secretariat or selection committee – sometimes by the chairman, sometimes by the membership in an open primary. Those primaries are the only opportunity a citizen has to vote for an actual legislator, the only time a legislator directly faces a citizen and is held accountable for his record.

Unfortunately, only a few parties hold primaries. Likud and Labor do. This past election cycle, the Jewish Home held primaries, but only half of its list was chosen in the primaries, the rest by the central committee of T’kuma/the National Union. Kadima held primaries for its chairman, but cancelled its primaries for its list because it was expected to only get a maximum of 3 seats (in the end it got two). In total, about 42-3 Members of Knesset were chosen in primaries, meaning about  1/3rd of Knesset Members were chosen by actual people and not by party bosses. Even more unfortunate, is the fact that only a small percentage, something like three percent, of the public is eligible to vote in a party primary, and even less actually do vote.

But still it’s a start. If Israel won’t change over to a district-based electoral system (one representative per district), the only hope for the Members of Knesset being chosen by the people is through the primaries.

The alleged reason for cancelling primaries is, reportedly, that there are those who believe that the Likud’s list was too right-wing and that cost it votes and at the same time, not all party members voted for the party. Or in other words, the “settlers” registered to the party to push candidates like Tzipi Hotovely, Danny Danon, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Moshe Feiglin. The problem with that allegation is that there are many factions within the party who behave this way (like unions and members registered by vote contractors); there probably was a higher voting rate among settlers who were registered for the Likud then those who weren’t;  and of the 11 seats the Likud-Beytenu list lost from its prior standing the Knesset, seven mandates worth of votes went to the right. Any internal party player, especially the Prime Minister knows all this.

It is true though that the primaries are intensely manipulated – by the various factions/MKs/branch chairmen/vote contractors (vote contracting, as I have explained elsewhere refers to the practice of registering people to the party and then kind of bargaining with their votes for personal gain). This is a huge problem. But this manipulation can only take place because so few people are registered to the party. Many of them are registered by internal players, who can trade on their votes.

If, on the other hand, a million or 500,000 people  instead of 120,000 were registered to the Likud, and those people were registered by the party itself and not for any specific internal party player, it would be too hard for any vote contractor or even group, such as a union, to register and control the numbers necessary to manipulate the system. Vote contracting in its current powerful form, would be a thing of the past.

That would require an immense registration effort by the party over several years. That is very possible. In Israel, however, long term solutions, are not the preferred solutions. It’s easier and more seductive to maneuver one’s way to power, which in this case may mean canceling the primaries and concentrate power in the hands of an even smaller group of people.

Moshe Feiglin’s Got Something Up his Sleeve on Pollard

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

In an interview today on Galei Yisrael, Feiglin hinted that he has something planned for Obama’s trip regarding freeing Jonathan Pollard. At the very end of the interview, the journalist asked if he can share what he has up his sleeve.

Feiglin answered, “Do you want Pollard, or do you want a headline?”

“Are they mutually exclusive?” the interviewer asked.

“In this case they could be, so I’d rather keep it quiet.”

Let’s see what Moshe does when his good friend Barack Obama shows up to say hello. Could be interesting. Listen to the whole interview here.

Visit Settlers of Samaria.

A Nation’s Search For Meaning

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, renowned psychologist Victor Frankel attributed his survival in the death camps to his feeling that his life had meaning. Those who lost that feeling of significance died.

It is not only people who need a sense of meaning; nations also need it – particularly the nation of Israel.

The search for meaning was the undercurrent that inspired last week’s elections. It wasn’t the economy or security. It certainly wasn’t the universal draft issue.

“Zionism has nothing to do with religion,” declared the First Zionist Congress. In a way, the Congress was right. Religion suits the community or family structure. It is a type of mobile Judaism that can be packed into one’s knapsack after the inevitable pogrom. Return to sovereign statehood requires much more than religion: It requires a return to an all-inclusive Jewish culture.

What content has filled the renewal of Zion in our days? We all know that without some common vision, society disintegrates. What meaning will there be to our national renaissance without the foundations of our shared faith?

All the debates at the start of Zionism revolved around that question. The Socialists won in a knockout. It was the Labor Party that presided over the establishment of the state of Israel and led it until the mid-‘70s. The Right never put forth an alternative vision. It adhered to the practical aspects of Zionism – settlement and security – without ever attempting to infuse meaning into its actions. Socialism collapsed along with the Soviet Union in the ‘80s, and when the Left was elected to lead Israel in the ‘90s, it rode the wave of “international brotherhood” alone. The socialist vision was replaced with the peace vision.

Twenty years later, we are at the end of the Oslo era. Israeli society has suffered a bloody awakening from the peace illusion, the public arena is void of any vision, and our national soul thirsts for meaning. It turns out that our national existence has no meaning if it is detached from its foundations in Jewish identity and faith – interwoven with modernity.

The Likud – the nationalist party with the glorious history, Jabotinsky’s teachings, and the popular connection to Jewish tradition – has all that it needs to infuse our society with meaning. But all of those important components were tucked out of sight in last week’s elections. The fact that the Likud did not even publicize its platform was no mistake: “We’re going to win anyway, so why get into arguments?” was the dubious logic behind that decision. And the nationalist ruling party turned itself into a party of suit-wearers with a negative campaign and no message or meaning.

On both sides of the Likud, parties that proposed a new agenda flourished. They have not yet infused their messages with real meaning, but at least one of them, Jewish Home, provided the scent of Jewish content as it quickly climbed to a projected 18 seats in the polls (it won 12 seats in the elections) – almost half of its support coming from non-observant voters.

Initially, the public was surprised when polls showed that a large number of voters were debating between Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Likud consultants expected the base attack on the Jewish Home to bring six secular mandates back to the Likud – but that didn’t happen. The Likud, which had fled from its own message and did not provide society with any type of meaning, did not garner those votes. If the Jewish agenda was suddenly unacceptable, those voters could easily vote for lack of meaning in more attractive packaging. No need to go back to voting for the lack of meaning offered by the old suits.

That is how Lapid’s party became the second largest party in Israel, while the Likud found itself shrunk and hunkering down between two fresh-faced parties advocating a new national agenda: one a civil agenda, and the other a Jewish-oriented agenda. Neither party provides meaning at this point. They are both too preoccupied with the “how” and not the “why” or “to where.”

If we in the Likud will understand the deep reason for our party’s decline; if we will refresh our ranks and provide the public with a new vision and a national answer to the “why” and “to where” – we will retrieve the votes that went to our younger sisters, and continue to securely lead Israel with our national vision.

The Temple as Political Satire on Eretz Nehederet

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The Eretz Nehedert satire program decided the best way to knock the Right was to have the Temple as a back drop and Ayelet Shaked draped over the Ark of the Covenant with Miri Regev, Tzipi Hotovely, Moshe Feiglin and others gathered around.

‘Yair Lapid’, asked by Bibi if he didn’t mind the Temple service, said, “sure, why not have a barbeque”.

Another screen shot:

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the Temple becoming a central element in  the public discourse.

Visit My Right Word.

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