A year and a half ago, when the Republican primaries were just getting started, I landed at the Miami airport with my friend Shmuel Sackett. The televisions were broadcasting a CNN report on Donald Trump’s sweeping victory in one of the outlying towns in the U.S.
“He is going to win the primaries,” I said to Shmuel.
Shmuel, an ex-New Yorker and astute observer of the American political scene, smiled at me forgivingly and explained: “You don’t understand, Moshe. The real race has not yet begun. The Republicans have serious candidates, the party will not let him win…”
“He will win the primaries,” I repeated, “and he will also win the presidential elections. And, because of Netanyahu’s irresolution, that will create a very dangerous situation for Israel.”
Our short discussion ended with a bet (a large, juicy steak). Ever since that bet, I have repeated my evaluation, both in the media and on Facebook.
What made me understand then what is happening now in far-away America? When I heard the enthusiastic crowd cheering for Trump’s then-negligible victory, I sensed the beginning of a backlash against the post-modern identity grinder that we have been witnessing for the last three decades. I realized that the pendulum of history had reached its apex and was beginning to move in the opposite direction.
Technically, Shmuel was absolutely right, as were the pollsters who predicted that Hillary would win. They did not forge any results. The reason that I, a total novice in American politics, could foresee the results better than the experts is not because of any special wisdom or professionalism. It is because I did not take models of the past into account. Instead, I analyzed the trends of the future.
Every poll-taker (and every person, for that matter) must create models in order to try to forecast the future. It is impossible to choose to interview 500 people from the ultra-Orthodox Meah Shearim neighborhood and expect results relevant to Israeli reality. There must be a model according to which the interviewees and the questions are chosen. When the models that worked in the past do not change, the results of the polls will continue to be precise. But when the models do change, the polls become worthless.
In my conversation with Shmuel, my model was different. If the elections in the U.S. had been held five years earlier, Trump would not have even been elected to the Home Improvement Committee. But when the process of identity-grinding had exhausted itself and the pendulum began to swing in the opposite direction – when the historic gate of the new flow opened – Trump’s flaws became his great advantage.
The new model is the return to identity. This is the new direction that history is taking. England wishes to return to its identity and voted for Brexit; America is returning to its identity and voted for Trump (“Make America Great Again); and, with G-d’s help, Israel will also return to itself and vote for Zehut.
But since Begin and the destruction of Yamit, since Netanyahu and his hug for Arafat, and since Sharon and the destruction of Gush Katif, we have learned to treat these victories with great caution. When historical opportunity falls into the hands of someone who is not capable of taking advantage of it, it is liable to turn into a destructive force. So although we are pleased that Trump has won, Israel, for its part, needs leadership that knows how to rise to the occasion. If that leadership does not further Israel’s interests, the danger is as great as the opportunity.
Read the following transcript of this not-so-imaginary phone call:
(Trump): Hi, Bibi, it’s Donald.
(Netanyahu): Hi Donald, congratulations, friend. I am so happy that you were elected!
(Trump): Yes, it’s good that we got rid of all those rotten people. Okay Bibi, let’s get down to business. Do you have a good location in Jerusalem for our embassy?
(Netanyahu): Ummm… Look Donald, let’s talk about that when we meet… There are all sorts of considerations that you must understand… Ummm…
It will not take Trump long to understand whom he is dealing with. In business, time is money and one doesn’t waste it on people who cannot make decisions.
The next imaginary phone call will be to Putin.
(Trump): Hi Vlad, what’s happening?
(Putin): Donald! It’s good you got rid of that carcass! What do you say? We’ll turn over a new leaf?
(Trump): Of course, Vlad. I really don’t care about Crimea. As far as I’m concerned, you can stay there. The sanctions are over. Come for a visit and we’ll do business.
(Putin): Excellent, Donald! By the way, there is a small matter with the Golan Heights.
(Trump): What is the Golan Heights?
(Putin): It’s territory Israel captured from Syria. Now we are the sovereign in Syria. In the past, Bibi agreed to retreat from there until the Sea of Galilee. We’ll discuss it when I visit.
(Trump) …Quiet for a moment… Ummm, okay, Vlad. Come and we’ll work something out.
Just as only the Likud (whose heart is in the right place) is capable of destroying Israeli towns, only Trump (who likes Israel) is capable of causing it significant damage. Because when there is no partner in Israel for Trump’s good will, he will go forward. When there is no opposition to destructive moves – not in Israel, because the Opposition is ruling and not in the U.S. for the same reason – the danger becomes very great and tangible.
Does it sound complicated? Are you confused? Do you remember how hard Sharon (who had previously said that the fate of Netzarim in Gush Katif would be the same as the fate of Tel Aviv) had to work to convince President Bush to agree to expel the Jews from Gush Katif?
Where does all of this find us, the Zehut party? The first conclusion that came into my mind when I heard the results of the U.S. elections was that it doesn’t matter how much your struggle seems hopeless. If you reach the point in history at which your “merchandise” is what the market wants, nothing can stop you. Not the media, not the establishment, not the justice system – nothing!
Zehut has the “merchandise.” There was no error in the poll that predicted that Zehut would win 15 mandates in the next elections. It identified an authentic, deep trend. If, with G-d’s help, we will proceed with wisdom and be there to present the Israeli public our message at the moment of truth, then what happened in England and what is happening now in the U.S. will repeat itself in Israel – in a much deeper and more significant way.
At that point, the potential of the friendship between Israel and America will be to the great benefit of both countries.Moshe Feiglin