Yesterday we had the opportunity to spend an evening with the Israeli politician from Likud Moshe Feiglin. He is a Member of the Knesset and its Deputy Speaker. The event was organized by JDL-Canada and sponsored by the Toronto Zionist Centre.
Regularly trashed by the left in Israel and around the world as a “hawk” and “hardliner,” just a few years ago the presence of Feiglin in the mainstream of the Israeli political life would’ve been unthinkable. The change didn’t come from him adapting to the mainstream – on the contrary, he holds the same views he had over twenty years ago when he vehemently opposed the Oslo Accords. The change originated from the people of Israel, who came to their senses.
After beating their collective head for two decades in the stone wall of Arab cynicism, hostility and hatred (presented as a “peace process”), they finally realized what Feiglin and his supporters have been telling them for years – the negotiations with the Arabs won’t amount to anything good. No negotiations could change the fact that for thousands of years in the Middle East every attempt at compromise has been seen as a sign of weakness. I am far from blaming the Israeli people. It is natural when your are surrounded by vicious enemies to look for even the slightest hope of improving your future.
When you rely on such a slight hope, it is not a surprise to ignore the fact that your negotiating “partner” is divided into two entities, ruled by a terrorist organization in Gaza and a bunch of “reformed” terrorists in Judea and Samaria, whose term as a government has expired years ago.
Moshe Feiglin appeared at two events in Toronto – the first one was a dinner reception and the second one was the main event held at a Chabad synagogue. He was accompanied by another conservative politician – Shmuel Sackett. I met both of them in Tel Aviv during a trip to Israel in 2012. At the time the main problem that worried everybody was the imminent recognition by the UN of the “Palestinian state.” I asked Mr. Sackett what the Israeli politicians think about that. He replied with a smile that it was a minor issue, which Israel could easily handle – the real problem was how to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. That sounded too optimistic to me at the time, but it turned out he was right.
At both events Feiglin presented a short documentary about his first year as a Member of the Knesset. It started with the excitement of his supporters when it became clear that he was elected from the list of Likud. The first issue he was passionate about was the support for the Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. They often become the scapegoats for “implementing” the “peace process,” resulting in destruction of their homes and closing of their farms.
The second cause, which is quite unorthodox for a conservative politician, is Feiglin’s campaign for legalizing the medical marijuana. He was shown speaking and then singing at a large demonstration surrounded by thousands of young people. Then we saw his appearances at Israeli TV shows, defending the thousands of patients, who need marijuana. Because of the lack of legal framework, now they are held hostage to the underworld, where they are forced to buy the substance.
His third issue, for which he is best known, is Temple Mount. He had fought for years the despicable decision of the Israeli government to place the holiest Jewish site under Muslim control. We saw him visiting the place where the Second Temple once stood, while being confronted by rabid Muslims. Feiglin’s simple and straightforward arguments in support of restoring the Jewish control over the site are winning the minds of politicians and journalists.
In his lecture after the documentary, Feiglin outlined his vision about the future of Israel. The country was the target of several Arab wars, whose purpose was to destroy it. Israel won all of those wars, yet it found itself in a peculiar situation. The losers have assumed a victim status and try to continue the hostile policies against Israel through propaganda and judicial pressure.
That created the paradox of “land for peace” – where we are told that Israel, the winner of all wars against it, is expected to give away a very tangible asset, its land, in exchange for something elusive – peace – which the other side has shown time after time that it can’t sustain. In Feiglin’s view, that paradox is created by the identity insecurity of the country. Israel must define itself as a Jewish state, a home of the Jews. Simply describing it as the country of Israel as a geographic area makes it vulnerable to manipulation and attacks.
That corresponds to Feiglin’s concept that the rights of the Jewish people over their land are derived from the Torah. He is well aware about the legal framework established in the XX century, like the Balfour declaration and the San Remo conference of 1920, which affirmed those rights, but still the sacred rights supersede the legal ones.
From that position Feiglin rejects outright the idea of creating an Arab state in the territories controlled currently by Israel. Not a single inch of the territories should be surrendered to anybody.
In practical terms the proposal means that all territories under the control of the so-called “Palestinian Authority,” like Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem must be annexed and placed under the jurisdiction of the Israeli government. The change must also include Temple Mount and Mount Zion and other places currently under the control of Muslim or Christian entities.
Last month we listened in Toronto to Caroline Glick discussing her book “The Israel Solution.” She had a similar proposal – restoring the Israeli sovereignty – which included granting Israeli citizenship to all Arabs from Judea and Samaria. Her argument was that those people are very much disappointed with their rulers and will be willing to integrate in the most advanced Israel. I was skeptical about her solution, because I know from personal experience how difficult it is to reform people infected by the violent ideology of Islam.
Moshe Feiglin’s solution was more realistic. His idea is to provide those Arabs with internationally recognized human rights, like education, employment, etc., but they will have the status of permanent residents and not citizens. They will not be allowed to vote in Israeli elections. He is skeptical about the ability of the Arabs to vote for democracy – due to their ideology and way of thinking, there isn’t a single normally functioning democracy in the Arab world.
Those who choose to adapt and become loyal to the Jewish state will have the opportunity to live in peace. There will also be an option to emigrate from Israel – the ones who want to leave will be fully compensated for their houses and other property. Right now they are prohibited from selling to Jews and may even get the death penalty from PLO.
(This definitely is a sound idea in a national state. I have lived in Japan, which is definitely a national state, where you can get resident status – your human and employment rights are respected and defended by law, but you are not allowed to vote and tell how to run their state.)
Eventually, the restoration of the Jewish sovereignty over the entire land of Israel will lead to building the Third Temple.
It is difficult to include in this short summary all the topics covered by Moshe Feiglin in his main presentation and the answers he provided to the many questions. I still haven’t finished processing the footage from the event, so here is a short video of the talk posted by Blazingcatfur:
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