Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Comfort of the Sector or Challenge of the Likud?

By Moshe Feiglin

6 Tevet, 5773
Dec. 19, '12

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper

The struggle between the Likud and the Jewish Home party for Religious Zionist votes ignores the most basic fact of all. "You can't fool all the people all the time," they say in America. But in Israel, we say, "Old pushovers don't die, they are just replaced with new pushovers."

It is amazing to see how the same people can be deceived time and again. After all, the two new stars of the Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked – both fine and worthy people – were preparing themselves to run for a place on the Likud Knesset list. This time, though, the competition for a realistic place on the list was very tight. It was clear that ministers and currently serving MKs would not be re-elected and that the chances to get on the national list were slim. And so the well-orchestrated political exit of Naftali and Ayelet – wrapped in Manhigut Yehudit terminology - was born. Their move, however, was the complete opposite of Manhigut Yehudit's ideology. It was a patently sectoral move.

The struggle for the votes of the Religious Zionists currently revolve around two parameters: Who will give more to the sector and who will better protect the Land of Israel. Both these parameters are an illusion. They divert the discussion to an irrelevant place and deflect attention from the main point of the debate. In both parameters, the advantage of a significant faith-based power base within the ruling party is clear and unequivocal. It has also proven itself well in the reality of the last four years. Real power cannot be acquired without the true integration that was expressed in the Likud primaries two weeks ago.

Why does the Education Minister send all Israeli students to the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron? Because of the members of the Jewish Home party? Why does Transportation Minister Katz pave every road he can in Judea and Samaria? Because of Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach?

The above discussion is really nothing more than a smoke screen. If someone thinks that he can get more for his sector with the services of a sectoral middleman instead of with a direct and binding connection with the relevant minister – so be it. Whoever thinks that he can better protect the Land of Israel from within a satellite party that is already committed to join a coalition with the ruling party – and that has no other option – can go right ahead. Whoever has forgotten where the Jewish Home's predecessor, the Mafdal, with its 12 mandates was during the destruction of Sinai; how Mafdal minister Orlev defused the political option for preventing the destruction of Gush Katif; how the Yesha Council – from where the current head of the Bayit Yehudi came- sidelined an effective struggle against the destruction; whoever has forgotten the entire sad history of sectoral politics - is invited to once again enjoy himself in the sectoral back yard.

The real discussion, however, revolves around a completely different point.

In a panel discussion in the Nechalim Yeshiva, Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach asked me who will ensure that the next Chief Rabbi will be a Zionist – the Likud or the Mafdal? This question perfectly illuminates the two paths open now before the Religious Zionist public. What is your dream? What is really important to you? A Chief Rabbi who sees eye to eye with you on the issues? Or a Prime Minister who believes in what you believe? All the other questions – like where you will get more funding – I think the answer is the Likud – are irrelevant.

Look yourself in the mirror and answer honestly. And then go to vote. But no putting your head in the sand; no buying the line that a new, improved Mafdal middleman with a secular fig leaf has suddenly morphed into the Likud and will lead the country. Tell yourselves the truth: What is your dream? Leadership of the country like you were supposed to have been taught over the years (even though the teachers really did not mean it)? Or the comfort and familiarity of your sector?

What do you prefer? The Chief Rabbi or the Prime Minister? Do you believe that you have something beside religion to offer Israeli society? What is the relevance of your Torah outside your closed communities? What do you communicate about yourselves and your beliefs when you flee the Israeli reality for the fenced-in sector? What message do you project when you are afraid to present Israeli society with a leadership alternative based on your beliefs?

12 years of intensive work have brought about a great change in the Likud. The national ruling party has opened its gates to the faith-based public as never before. The Likud Knesset list includes 7 settlers (!) and many Religious Zionists in realistic slots. The sectoral opposing wave threatens to wash away the advancement of faith-based energies to the fore of national leadership.

Ultimately, it is only deep-rooted leadership that can get us out of the vicious Oslo cycle and deal with our current challenges with a faith-based perspective. The question is if that is what you want. 

No comments: