By Jason Gold
Eight years ago I began hearing about a man named Moshe Feiglin leading a movement called Zo Artzeinu that shut down the entire country of Israel with a nationwide peaceful civil disobedience protest of the toxic Oslo accords that brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets. I began to read his articles as well as his seminal first book that documented those times, "Where There Are No Men".
Shortly thereafter there was a lunch at a friend's in Israel with a leading journalist who when I queried about what he thought about Feiglin, his off the record response was, "He's exactly what this country needs. It's just that they have to realize that they need him".
About a week after that, Shmuel Sackett sat in my living room, outlining the vision of Manhigut Yehudit and the Jewish State. I was sold. When I finally met Moshe I found him to be quiet, intense, brilliant, a fast thinker and deadly debater, as well as a master of Jewish and world history. No wonder the leftist press despised him and yet could not get enough of him to interview, much like moths to his flame. "I hope you are not in a hurry," he told me in fairly good English, "because this is a revolution in thought to overcome 50+ years of brainwashing. This is a 15 year plan."
What the hell, I figured. 15 years to get to the prime minister position, coming from nowhere? You had to assume to build a following in Likud, to sell the vision, it would take at least that long. And given the pathetic state of the right in its inability to ward off Oslo, Feiglin represented a real potential sea change.
There were the visits to Israel as a house guest of the Feiglins, watching this remarkable family up close in the close knit community of Ginot Shomron. There was the burgeoning friendship of not just the Feiglins but also the Manhigut family.
Well, eight years on the revolution of thought is alive and well as the growth within the Likud of Manhigut Yehudit continues. There is Moshe Feiglin standing on the cusp of becoming a sitting Knesset Minister. There have been mistakes along the way secondary to political naivety, but lessons learned from those mistakes. There has been personal pain including the illness of his wife and the miraculous recovery of his son from an automobile accident-induced coma that many said he would never awaken from. All these experiences have allowed him to grow, to perhaps soften a bit but to never deviate from the vision of Manhigut Yehudit.
The mistakes, the pain, are all crucibles of fire. Much like Egypt was the crucible of fire that shaped the nation of Israel, so Feiglin's crucibles of fire have helped shape him now. What will happen post election only Gd above knows but it will not be surprising to see the knives come out for Feiglin from Bibi in an attempt to marginalize Feiglin and his influence in order for Bibi to govern from the left. Nor will it surprise me to see the other hard right politicians in the Likud abandon Moshe at Bibi's order, much like the elders did to Moshe and Aharon on their way to see Paroh the first time. But not to worry, Moshe will be fine. In the words of Nietzsche, "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."