Thursday, August 16, 2007

So How Many People Came?

By Moshe Feiglin

As the polls closed Tuesday night in Haifa, the poll chairwoman eyed the two official observers suspiciously. "You're pulling my leg, aren't you?" she half stated, half asked.

"How could it be? The Feiglin representative is an obviously non-observant, veteran Likud woman, while the Bibi representative is obviously a Religious Zionist, who has spent the entire night in dread that Feiglin will get more than 30% of the vote! What is going on here?"

The chairwoman put her finger on a very interesting phenomenon. While the general public -- the people who make up the Jewish majority -- is open to Manhigut Yehudit's belief based message, many Religious Zionists seem to fear the leadership option. Why?

The following article, excerpted from Moshe Feiglin's book, "The War of Dreams" was written after a massive demonstration in January, 2001 protesting PM Ehud Barak's negotiations to cede part of Jerusalem to the Arabs.

Tevet, 5761
January, 2001

demonstrationOn the way home, I listened to the estimates. The organizers claim that there were 400,000 people there and the media talks about 200,000. Actually, what difference does it make? There was a huge crowd there, any way you look at it. The demonstration achieved its goal. Now it is clear to everyone that the vast majority of Israel's public is committed to Jerusalem, and that the idea to divide it belongs to a minority. I almost wrote a "marginal" minority, but my hand stopped. The minority promoting the division of Jerusalem is not marginal. Tue, it cannot bring out even a fraction of the public that came to our inspiring demonstration. Nevertheless, the massive crowd at the demonstration is "marginal" and the minority that wishes to relinquish Jerusalem to our enemies is central and determines the direction that our country takes. As moving as this week's demonstration was, it was no more than a blip on the screen. The forces leading Israel to its inevitable disintegration march on, unperturbed.

The demonstration highlighted the deep crisis that the Religious Zionist public is experiencing. A quick look at the sea of excellent people who gathered there revealed that there was almost no one who did not look religious. Nothing is wrong with that. On the contrary, we can be proud that the belief based public is leading this struggle. But the amazing thing was that the speakers on the stage reflected the complete opposite: almost no one there looked outwardly religious. Not only that: The millions of shekels that were spent to organize the demonstration came from religious sources. The advertisement for the demonstration, though, was the famous photo of the paratroopers standing in awe at the foot of the Temple Mount. The central paratrooper in that photo, Dr. Yitzchak Yifat had declared years ago that the liberation of the Western Wall was not worth the price that we paid.

We are undoubtedly the majority. We proved that this week. But after the demonstration, we returned home and when we finished feeling exhilarated by the vast amounts of people who were there, the Left was still in power. Not only that; the Left will continue to be in power even after Sharon wins the elections. It will continue to lead and if we don't wake up, it will tear Jerusalem from us. Why? Because we have not managed to stand on our own two (leadership) feet.

For us, being Israeli means not being religious. It means being just like the paratrooper who does not understand why we had to pay such a price. We have not yet had the wisdom and responsibility to fashion an alternative "Israeliness." The Left has designed our national symbols and culture. And as long as we are culturally captive to the Left, we will necessarily reach the Left's conclusions.

We desperately attempt to convince the nation that we are right. But we use the old, secular symbols that have left us all disappointed. The people who came to the demonstration were by and large religious. But the demonstration's organizers tried to portray the participants as extras in a movie whose stars are authentic Israelis. That is a lie.

Why doesn't the belief based public stand up on its own two feet? Why doesn't it break the rhythm of the pendulum as it oscillates between two bad options?

The answer is that Religious Zionism draws its legitimacy from secular Zionism. For the traditional Religious Zionists, the current "Right wing" politicians are the only connection available between the Religious Zionist ideology and secular Zionism. If the Religious Zionists reject them, it will then be disconnected from both the Left arm of Zionism and its Right arm. Religious Zionism sees itself as nothing more than a spice for the main course. And if the main course is rejected, there is no reason for the spice.

The Religious Zionists are not willing to get up and say, "We are the country! We are the unifying factor of the entire Jewish majority in Israel! We are the new leadership vanguard!"

When the Religious Zionist public stops serving secular Zionism, unites the Jewish majority and leads, it won't need to count how many people came to demonstrations anymore.

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