Monday, January 16, 2012

Feiglin: Lapid is a Person Who Says Nothing: An Interview in Ma'ariv

By Amichai Atalli
Ma'ariv/NRG 16 Tevet, 5772/ Jan. 11, '12

On January 31, the 130,000 members of the Likud will elect the chairman of their party and their representatives to the party's legislative body. PM Binyamin Netanyahu, who set the election date for the chairmanship of the party in a surprise move, was so successful with his surprise that except for Moshe Feiglin, there is no other candidate willing to run against him.

Moshe Feiglin, do you really think you have a chance to beat Netanyahu?
It is clear to me that I will ultimately win; not necessarily in the upcoming elections, but at some point in time, it will happen. I have already run for leadership of the Likud three times. The first time I won 3% of the vote, the second time 13% and the last time, 23%. True, this time the contest is much more difficult, for I am running against a ruling prime minister who has a lot more power. But ultimately, I believe that I will win, within the framework of my larger plan.
The Wright Brothers' first prototype crashed more than one hundred times before it finally took off. In retrospect, each crash was paving the path to the take-off. I don't see a race in which I do not get 51% as a crash. Every time that I run, my ideas filter into Israeli society. Today, there is already a very respectable circle of Likud members who understand my ideas – and that circle is growing and deepening.

And what are your ideas?
The State of Israel must solidify its Jewish – not religious – identity. By the way, I do not define myself as a religious person, but rather, as a Jew. Today, I see the State of Israel as a plane that is always trying to escape – so far successfully – anti-aircraft missiles that are being shot at it.
Netanyahu, the pilot in the cockpit, deserves a medal for this adept maneuvering between all the missiles. But there is just one small problem: the plane must also be flying somewhere. The destination of the plane is marked out on my map, but it is not in Netanyahu's cockpit.
In other words, my goal is to define a destiny and goal from which the State of Israel can draw the content and energies it needs for its existence. The fact that we are happy for every additional day that ends quietly and do not dare to dream of anything more than that is a huge problem. Today, in Cambridge University and others like it, they no longer believe in Israel's right to exist. So while official Israel recognizes the existence of a "Palestinian nation" the world no longer recognizes our existence.

What are your exact positions?
There are a number of central areas that I would like to focus on: Jewish education: Every student in Israel's educational system should be taught Judaism for one hour every day. Not religion or coercion, but enough so that the student should know the Tanach, history and the Jewish prayer book. He will not have to pray, but he should know where he came from.
Another point is family: The State of Israel effectively attacks the family unit. It no longer pays to be a married couple. Many couples divorce so that they can get more tax breaks. An additional point is community: I plan to strengthen the bond between family and community and also to strengthen the existing communities by introducing regional elections. Every American citizen can call his congressman when he needs help. Here, you have to be a member of the Likud Central Committee if you want to get something.

What do you think about the right wing Knesset members' attack on Israel's media?
I am for liberty and for a battle against all types of coercion. There should be free access to broadcasting that represents the entire public. If an Arab wants to broadcast from his town, let him do so. If somebody breaks the law, he can be jailed. But why does the state decide who can broadcast? I am talking about freedom of speech, freedom to broadcast and true freedom of expression.

What about economy?
We need Jewish economy; a free market without core shareholders. The base of the economy should be capitalism, but it must be tempered with faith and kindness. Capitalism that is not in a cultural envelope that modifies and restrains it fosters greed. Faith and kindness provide the restraint that it needs.

These ideas will give us legitimacy in Cambridge?
When you ask British intellectuals why they do not recognize the State of Israel, they say that they had expectations of the People of the Book; they wanted us to bring them a new culture. They say that our state is nothing more than an imitation of what already exists, but that it is always producing wars and conflict with the Arab world. As far as they are concerned, the experiment has failed and it would be best to close up shop. They anticipated a new message that would emerge from Zion, and in the meantime, all they have gotten from us is great disappointment.

What is happening within the Likud?
I sense that Netanyahu feels very pressured. He is not fighting to win, because he assumes that he will. He is fighting very hard, though, for every percentage point of support, for the struggle, as far as he is concerned is for complete hegemony over the Likud. Netanyahu is creating great pressure and spending a lot of money to make the Likud a party ruled by one man. This will save him the trouble of maintaining a dialogue with the party's institutions. I do not know if Netanyahu really thinks that he will easily defeat me, because on the ground, he is investing a lot of effort in this race.

What type of efforts?
There is a feeling of fear in the Likud camp. It starts with the mayors and seeps through the heads of the Likud branches and down to the local activists. I keep hearing stories of people who are threatened that if they do not bring in high percentages of votes for Netanyahu, they will not be receiving the funds that they are slated to get. I do not have these means, but I am happy to say that there is a phenomenon that I have never seen before in the Likud: The Likud members who understand that if they want their party to remain intact, they must not give Netanyahu the hegemony that he wants.

What do you say about Yair Lapid and Noam Shalit entering politics?
Israeli society can be proud that Shelli Yechimovitz was elected to head the Labor party. I think that her worldview is very dangerous, but the fact that she was elected shows that the Israeli public wants leaders who are ideologically motivated; the kind of leaders who believe what they say. On the other hand, the high ratings that Yair Lapid is receiving in the polls are a low point for Israeli society. He is a person who has nothing to say and his popularity expresses society's preference for rating over substance.

And what about Shalit?
Noam Shalit has not given anything to Israeli society. But he has received - a lot! The release of 1,000 terrorists with blood on their hands is something that we have all given Noam Shalit, for we are all liable to pay the price, G-d forbid, for the Shalit deal. Noam Shalit did not give, he only received and his candidacy for the Knesset testifies to counter-values: He who succeeds in receiving more from society is the success story who can bring in votes. This is a disgrace for Shalit and for the Labor party and Shelli Yechimovitz, who took him into their party.

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