There was no time to rest on the first day of our stay in Israel. JDL-Canada had a meeting with the Likud party politician Moshe Feiglin, scheduled for the evening.
It is election time in Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu already dissolved the Knesset and national elections had been scheduled for the beginning of the next year. The low threshold – a political party needs to get only 2% of the votes to get a seat in the Knesset – had created a complex political reality, in which compromises are essential to form a government (more on the Israeli political system – in my post about the Knesset).
The fierce fights for votes among different parties, from radical leftists and communists to ultra-conservative religious formations, create a tense election campaign. Recently the press reported that Olmert and Livni from Kadima claimed that the “Palestinian” president Mahmoud Abbas told both of them that the PA had given up the demand for the right to return of the refugees. Then they accused Netanyahu that he strengthened Hamas and weakened the “peace-loving” PA.
Later it turned out that Abbas’ statement was only a personal opinion that he would never be able to return to his village in Galilee and not a change in the PA policies. After that Avigdor Liberman called Abbas a liar who supports terrorism.
When you deal with such difficult reality, it is always interesting to have a conversation with people, who are directly involved in it. Such an opportunity provided the meeting with Moshe Feiglin and Shmuel Sackett. Our group met them at a kosher restaurant and we talked for over two hours.
Both of them are the type of politicians, whom the mainstream press would call conservative hardliners. Sackett is the co-founder of Manhigut Yehudit, an Israeli nationalist movement. Moshe Feiglin is a fascinating figure, who had made a significant impact on the Israeli politics during the last 20 years.
Leader of Manhigut Yehudit and a veteran from the Lebanese War in 1982, he decisively opposed the Oslo accords and his civil disobedience cost him 6 months in jail in 1997. His political career had been marked by his rivalry with Benjamin Netanyahu – he ran several times against him in the leadership elections. The latest controversy involved his visit to Temple Mount, where he was carefully observed by the security forces if he was moving his lips. If he did, he could’ve been arrested for praying – it is odd, but Jews are not allowed to pray at the holiest place in their country, where Solomon’s Temple once stood.
The most important feature of Feiglin’s political position is his passionate defense of the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
He started his talk with a story about the recent interview he gave to Al-Jazeera. After years of hostility, they finally decided to interview him. He asked the Arab journalists about their identities. Are they Egyptians, Jordanians or other? He wanted to know why they allowed the British, white colonialists from Europe, who came after World War I and decided with maps and rulers who was Egyptian, Jordanian or Iraqi, to determine their identity. He also told them that they were those who had to decide who they were. They belong to the great Arab nation (and they agreed with him).
The same applies to the “Palestinians” – there is no Palestinian history, those people are also Arabs. We have to stop lying about that – what we actually have is Jews and Arabs. Next he asked them about the original Arab name for Jerusalem – it included the word “temple”. What temple was that? Mohammed’s? No, it has always been King Solomon’s Temple. When the Muslims pray on Temple Mount they face Mecca, that is the important spot for them, not Jerusalem.
He talked next about the Israeli politics. A few days earlier they had talks with Liberman about combining forces. That is important in turbulent times. In 1996 Netanyahu defeated Peres against all odds after Rabin’s assassination. The success was a result of the common efforts of several political groups. After that election Peres was asked who won. He replied that the Jews won, then the reporter asked him who lost. “Israel lost,” replied Peres. Feiglin interpreted that as a peculiar admission of the fact that Netanyahu won on the premise that Jewishness is the basis of the Israeli identity.
That’s why it is so important to combine the efforts of those who support the Jewish idea. He hopes that not only Liberman would join, but also other parties as a block. Without the Jewish idea, the State of Israel is losing its meaning and as a result is also losing its right to exist in the eyes of the world.
The right to exist is a big question – it came to prominence only recently, years ago it wasn’t such a big issue. The answer of that is simple – while Israel is turning away from its Jewish identity, the world is turning against it. The Israelis are seen as people, who can live anywhere and can go back to Europe, USA, or other places from where their ancestors came. Upon its creation, Israel was expected to bring some excitement and new experiences – like a spiritual rebirth of the Jews. When that fails, the world is turning its back on Israel.
The solution is simple – in addition to not giving away any land, the Jews must answer the question why they are here and what is their direction. The current turmoil in the Middle East could make them stronger.
Our guests answered a few questions. When asked what he thinks about the impact of the US presidential elections on Israel, he said that the result shouldn’t matter – the policies of Israel shouldn’t be determined in Washington, but in Jerusalem. Without economic and political independence Israel would never become confident in its own strength.
I asked Shmuel Sackett about the possible impact of the unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence. He replied that despite what the Western analysts say, that won’t be a big issue and Israel would be able to cope with that. The real important issues that must be addressed by all means are Hamas and Iran.
© 2012 Blogwrath.com