Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Moshe Feiglin's Bat Mitzvah

By Shmuel Sackett

This article appeared in the Queens Jewish Link, Dec 20, 2012

What is the difference between a non-religious boy who works hard for his bar-mitzvah and a religious boy who works hard for his bar-mitzvah?

The answer is simple. For the non-religious boy the bar-mitzvah is the end while for the religious one the bar-mitzvah is just the beginning! 

I thought of this when hugging my dear friend Moshe Feiglin on the historical night when he won a very high spot on the Likud Knesset list. As you may know, I have a long and proud history with Moshe. Back in 1993 we started "Zo Artzeinu" (This Is Our Land) to protest the Oslo Accords and we made international headlines. Although our protests were based on non-violent civil disobedience, Moshe and I were arrested many times and finally charged with the crime of sedition and incitement. An 18 month trial was used to break us but we emerged strong and proud. The court found us innocent of incitement but guilty of sedition and we were sentenced to prison. I received a 12 month sentence while Moshe was sentenced to 16 months. About two weeks before beginning our sentence, the court succumbed to public pressure and allowed us to serve our time via community service. 

When we left the prison world, we began our current organization; "Manhigut Yehudit" (The Jewish Leadership Movement) in an attempt to change the message from "anti-peace-process" to "pro-new-leadership". We embarked on a mission to educate Israelis about what lies at the root of their problems and how we could solve them; by building new leadership based on authentic Jewish values and concepts. We lectured, wrote and spoke about this "revolutionary" concept all over the country. Nobody – in the young history of Israel – had dared speak of new leadership. At best, every now and then we received a change of names or faces on the political scene but we were talking about something completely different. We were talking about a change of direction. We shared our vision of Israel as a strong and proud Jewish state. We explained our dream of a Jewish homeland that was to be infused with Torah principles while simultaneously being against religious coercion. We opened a lot of eyes and Moshe found himself speaking on Israeli radio and television on a regular basis.

And then came a major change. In November 2000 – after just talking about Jewish leadership for a few years – we decided to show the world exactly what that meant. We entered the Israeli political scene, but not where anyone would have predicted. Even though both Moshe and I wear "knitted kippot" we did not join the traditional political party known then as the Mafdal (today it is called "Bayit Ha'Yehudi – The Jewish Home"). We did not join the "settlers" party nor any of the other "right wing" parties. That was not our message. Our message was leadership and these guys – with all due respect to them – were (and still are) followers, not leaders. 

In November 2000 Moshe and I entered the Likud party. At the time, most Israelis could not understand what we did. They viewed us as parasites and evil men attempting a hostile takeover. Legal attempts were made to disqualify us and expel us from the party. We were not invited to meetings and were basically excommunicated - but we persevered. We refused to back down! Moshe ran several times for party chairman and also for the Knesset. What kept us going was the fact that despite all efforts by Likud leaders to eradicate the "Feiglinites" from their midst, the average Likud member drew closer to us each and every day. Moshe's popularity kept rising as the people began to read his ideology and identify with his serious vision. He was the only politician with answers, the only one with a complete understanding of where Israel needs to be and the only one with the courage willing to say and write those words on a regular basis.

And then it happened. Exactly 12 years after joining Likud, Moshe was elected to a top spot on the Knesset list! The persistence paid off, as 40% of the registered Likud voters declared that they wanted Moshe to represent them in the Knesset. Baruch Hashem – we did it. The strength and guidance that Hashem gave us all these years so that we could sanctify His great and holy Name was worth the pain - as it always is!

All of these thoughts ran through my mind as I gave Moshe the hug of his life. (Note: I outweigh Moshe by over 100 lbs. so I think he is still feeling it!) After the hug, I said the following to Moshe; "Mazal Tov on your bat mitzvah!" He looked and me and was a bit puzzled. I then said, "Moshe, it is now November 2012. We entered Likud in November 2000. We have been waging this battle for exactly 12 years!" 

With that, Moshe looked at me, smiled from ear to ear and said; "Shmuel, this is just the beginning."

No comments: