Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Feiglin Manifesto, Part I

By Moshe Feiglin


"Take 1800 words," said the editor of Israel's largest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, "and write your manifesto for the State of Israel in the next four years."

I couldn't believe my ears. Before this proposal, the newspaper had requested an interview for their magazine, but I refused. "I do not believe in the ability of a journalist to get my message across," I explained.

Throughout the years, the media has made it its business to besmirch my name in any way possible. And now, they wanted to give me two full pages in the Shabbat edition of Yediot Aharonot – a direct and clear mouthpiece to thousands of Israelis, who will read what I have to say in the leisure of Shabbat.
I sat down to write.

The phone rang incessantly. The text messages had totally clogged up my phone. The accumulated exhaustion of the past two months made it difficult to concentrate and the editors didn't make my life easy, keeping up a constant pace of proposed changes to what I had written. But in the end, a summarized manifesto of leadership emerged: clear, relevant and concise.

On Friday, when I saw the manifesto on the 2 page spread, I began to feel excitement.
The media has always pursued me before and after elections. The difference is that in the past, their real motive was to discredit me, Netanyahu or the Likud. It is not that they have all turned into righteous souls. But today, the feeling is that they are searching for significance. They sense that the public is searching for meaning and they know who has "wares" to publicize. Yediot Aharonot did not give me this rare privilege for no reason. They are the first to sense the thirst for meaning. They have to sell newspapers and our message does just that.

The Left's message is bankrupt. Their infighting and wretchedness as elections approach are the result of ideological bankruptcy. The Right does not present a great message, either – with the exception of Jewish leadership that is currently fascinating all those willing to listen.

If I had been elected to the top position in the Bayit Yehudi party, I would never have gotten 1800 words from Yediot Aharonot. I wouldn't have even gotten 200 words. What makes these words so interesting is not just their meaning, but their relevance. When similar words are spoken from the "safe" sectoral corner, they interest no-one.

"The article in Yediot Aharonot is worth a PR campaign of at least one million dollars," said a senior minister to me. "And I am completely serious."

This is the beginning of a new chapter in Israel's consciousness. The way ahead of us is still long, exhausting and full of ups and downs. But we have completed the introduction and are now at a new beginning. And that is very, very exciting.

Moshe Feiglin's Platform: Part 1
16 Kislev, 5773
Nov. 30, '12

Translated from Yediot Aharonot

Toward Rosh Hashanah this year, the public was exposed, quite by accident, to the fact that I support supervised legalization of cannabis. This piquant topic generated much interest and revealed the large gap between my general world view and the way it is presented and understood by the public. So here is what I really think on a number of central issues. It is my personal opinion, which I will attempt to advance in the Knesset.

The main junction from which the different opinions on most issues in Israel diverge is the question of identity. Israel does not have clear borders because it does not have a clear identity. The dispute is not really over peace or security. After all, we expelled ourselves from Gush Katif with the clear knowledge that we would get neither of the above in exchange. The dispute is about identity. The more solid our Jewish identity, the stronger the connection between us and our Land. The stronger the desire to retreat from our Jewish identity, the stronger our desire to retreat from the Land. When we connect to our identity, we will connect to our Land and we will merit clear borders and peace.

Peace? Absolutely. True peace, like Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall." He understood that the Arabs would never accept the existence of a Jewish entity – within any borders - inside the Mediterranean Islamic expanse. Instead, he professed, they would prefer correct neighborly relations with a Jewish State that believes in its justice and is determined to defend every grain of the Land of Israel under IDF control.

Thus, the important issue is not the "peace process" with the Arabs, but the process of building our identity; of building a Jewish state that will restore our lost feeling of collective meaning. If we properly build a Jewish state of liberty, we will merit peace in Sderot and Kiryat Shmonah. But if we continue to flee this true challenge – if we continue to search for the solution with the neighbors and not inside the house – Tel Aviv will not enjoy quiet, either.

What is the Jewish State that I envision? The most basic Jewish principle is liberty that stems from the Jewish belief in the Creator. Faith in G-d is the root of liberty.

All throughout history, from Pharaoh and Ahashverosh and from Hitler to Stalin, absolutist dictators scheming to conquer and enslave the entire world would conclude that they must destroy the Jewish People. For the Jew's very essence will always remain free. He cannot be turned into a slave. He already has a king: The King of the world.

When the founding fathers of America wanted to establish a state founded on liberty, the Bible and the Exodus from Egypt were their main source of inspiration. Now, when Western civilization is crumbling under a demographic and cultural attack, there are great expectations for a new message of liberty that will emerge from Zion. When those expectations are left unresolved, they turn into disappointment and are translated into loss of legitimacy for the existence of a Jewish state on the face of the earth. "We dreamed of a place in which the Book of Books would be re-written, in preparation for the redemption of the world. For after all, you are a treasured nation." This is how British intellectuals explained their anger toward Israel. "The world had expectations, and now see what you have done." (Makor Rishon)

Now is the time to wave the banner of liberty from its source: from the Nation and Land of the Bible. We must slowly but surely switch over to liberty-based conduct. For the State belongs to the nation – not vice versa.

For example:

Housing: Allocation of land by lottery

Approximately 93% of the land for housing is currently being held by the State, through the Israel Land Authority. This data is more befitting of totalitarian countries. But even more amazing is the fact that most of the land ultimately made available for construction comes from the additional seven percent of private land in Israel. The State is simply holding on to the central resource that belongs to the entire nation. This causes an artificial rise in the cost of land, housing and living.

This Land is our Land. Not only on a national level, but on the most personal level, as well. Joshua allocated the Land of Israel to the tribes and the families before they even entered the Land. The Torah of Israel sanctifies the bond between the Israeli and his apportioned lot of land. We must slowly but surely (by lottery) transfer ownership of the land from the State to the nation. Free trade between citizens will lower the cost of land even more and will do to housing what the liberty principle did to the cell phone market. In this way, our children will also be able to buy apartments.

Education: Vouchers
"A father must teach his child Torah." This is what the Torah teaches us. But in the state of the Jews, the responsibility has slipped off the shoulders of the father and onto the shoulders of the minister. Without even noticing it, parents have surrendered their most central liberty: the liberty to educate their children. Today, if a parent wishes to independently educate his child, he must acquire special authorization from the Ministry of Education.

A liberty-based state will employ the voucher method. The Education Ministry will supply every parent with education vouchers to be used for their children. Special needs children will receive more vouchers. Parents will be able to "cash" these vouchers in the school of their choice. This will create healthy competition between the schools, the level of studies and diversity will flourish and responsibility and liberty will be restored to the parents.

Family: Income Tax for Couples
The family is the first and most basic support system that a person has. It fashions his identity and fosters his liberty. Without family (and community) modern man remains alone in the big city, enslaved to forces greater than him.

In the past two decades, the State of Israel has done all in its power to compromise the status of the family. Today, happy couples divorce just for the tax exemptions afforded single parents.
The State of Israel must restore the traditional family as a value to be encouraged. It need not replace single-parenthood and must not stem from scorn toward the rights of homosexuals. Instead, it must highlight the understanding that without the traditional family, there is no society and no liberty. The first thing that must be done is to tax families as one organic unit (the sum of the income of both partners). In this way, one partner can work extra hours and be taxed reasonably, allowing the other partner to spend quality time with the children. (To be continued)

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