Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Moshe Feiglin You Never Knew: Part 2

By Tomer Koren

15 MarCheshvan 5773
Oct. 30, '12

This is part 2 of the interview appeared in Hebrew in the Ma'ariv newspaper and NRG website
Pictured: Moshe Feiglin in front of graffiti that says Judaism = Liberty

What do you think about same-gender couples?

"I respect homosexuals and have some homosexual friends, but my heart aches for them. If I had a son who was a homosexual, I would feel very sorry for him, because I would know that his life would not be easy. I recently spoke to a senior officer in the army who is also homosexual. He candidly told me that he is unhappy with his sexual orientation and if he could, he would like to establish a normal family. It is no accident that there are many homosexual singers and artists. The homosexual lifestyle is very difficult, and difficulty is the basis for creativity."

While on this subject, I would like to say that I like Freddy Mercury's songs. As I see it, he is an amazing artist, but I do not feel comfortable with the blatant homosexual messages in his songs.

What do you think about the gay-pride parade?

"I oppose it, particularly in Jerusalem. This parade is an act of defiance against the normative way of life. I do not want to push anybody back in to the closet, but I also do not want them to push me into the closet. The foundation stone of any nation is the classic family, complete with a father and mother. As soon as that disappears, society comes apart. Just as ultra-Orthodox society pays a heavy price for its discrimination against women, so secular society pays a heavy price for homosexual control over the media discourse.

Doesn't Separate From Family
Feiglin has his opinions, and writes articles on every possible topic, from Haredi draft to the Body Exhibit (which he calls "pornography" and the crushing of the image of G-d"). He doesn't lose an opportunity to make headlines. Last week, he was once again in the headlines when he was arrested after the police claimed that he bowed down in prayer on the Temple Mount, which is against the rules there. "The arrest is a sad joke," he says derisively. "I abided by the rules."

So what happened?

Nothing out of the ordinary happened. The police attempted to make headlines on my back, but luckily, the court saw the truth and released me immediately. The police tried to make all sorts of ridiculous claims, but the court didn't buy it."

If, previously, Feiglin did not mind conflict with the police – and some say, he even encouraged it – it seems now that he regrets it. Not because he has changed his mind about the right to ascend the Temple Mount, but because his time in jail robbed him from his family. He spends much more time with his family than he did in the past. This man, who in the past did not miss a family event of the Likud Central Committee members (the hard work produced the remarkable achievement in the primaries for head of the Likud in January 2012: over 23% of the Likud members voted for Feiglin) keeps close to his son, David (18) who is dealing with a severe head injury and his wife, Tzippy (50) who is dealing with Parkinson's disease.

"I remember David's accident as if it happened yesterday, despite the fact that two years have already passed," he says. "He sustained a severe head injury and was in a coma for three months. In the merit of the prayers of Jews the world over, he woke up. Today he is in the process of healing. It is hard for him to walk and he cannot see out of one eye but thank G-d, the direction is positive. He is progressing, he walks and he is making up his matriculation exams. We pray that he continues."

As David's condition is improving, his wife, stricken with Parkinson's disease, is deteriorating. Feiglin does not like to talk about the difficulties, but it is enough to just mention his wife's illness to peel off his layer of aloofness.

"Fifteen years ago, we saw that something was wrong, but it took seven years until she was diagnosed with the disease," he says. "I believe that a person does not get baggage that he cannot lift. This is what I received and this is what I have to deal with."

How does your wife deal with it?

Tzippy is an amazing person. She is my secret weapon. I do not want to get into details, but I can tell you that it is not easy and that I do not wish the challenge of dealing with a Parkinson's patient on anybody. It is a horrible illness."

He is not willing to talk about how the illness has affected their marriage, but when his wife calls during the interview the difficulty is evident. "Do you want me to come, Tzippy? Do you need help?" he asks in a soft, worried voice.

"This illness requires a strong disposition, but I do it with great love. I always think about the example that we are setting for our children. I hope that it is a good example."

Your problems with your son and wife didn't undermine your faith in G-d?

"On the contrary, they strengthen my faith. David is a walking miracle. Healing from a brain injury is more about prayers than about doctors. The doctors were amazing and they saved his life. But his progress is in the merit of the prayers of the Nation of Israel. After the accident I was amazed to discover how many people prayed for him, including people who were very far from praying and synagogues. I received phone calls from leftists who wanted to give me strength. At times like that, all of our presumptions go down the drain."

The frequent visits to the hospital left their impression on Feiglin. If he used to seem like an impenetrable rock - some said haughty - today it is easy to see the cracks that reveal a sensitive and human person. "I realized a long time ago that I am not here forever," he says and is silent for a moment.

When did you realize that?

"During the time when there were frequent major terror attacks, when settlers were murdered on the roads almost daily. I understood that we can never know what will happen. Tzippy and I made a will. It was important for us to make monetary arrangements and to decide what would be done with the children if we would die."

Does the Iranian threat add to this feeling?

I am a believing person and I don't think that G-d brought us back to the Holy Land after 2,000 years just as a joke. Nonetheless, when I analyze the situation rationally, I see a very sorry reality, with a cloud of delegitimization hovering over the State of Israel."

Who is to blame for this situation?

"We are. The government's Iran strategy is a catastrophe. Ahmadinijad began to threaten us ten years ago. Instead of eliminating him then, as the world expected of us, we preferred to look the other way and to deflect responsibility to other nations, like the US.

So you are not counting on the Americans.

Why should I? The expectations that Obama or Romney will help us prove that we still suffer from a shtetl mentality. I never saw a Norwegian who asks himself if Obama is good for the Norwegians. Why do we have to ask ourselves if he is good for the Jews? We have to take care of ourselves. The sooner, the better. 

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