Interview with MK Moshe Feiglin: Why I Left Likud and Post-Election Forecast
This radio interview with MK Moshe Feiglin was conducted by veteran journalist Kalman Libskind days after Moshe Feiglin did not win a slot in the Likud primaries.
Do you feel angry, insulted or betrayed by the Likud?
No, not at all. Certainly not angry and certainly not insulted. Joining the Likud was the right thing to do at the time. We have had tremendous achievements; the greatest of them was embedding the leadership mentality in the faith-based public. When a process works itself through to the end, one must recognize that. We gave this process all the time and invested all the energy we could muster. We made all the improvements we could in order to allow it to work itself through to the end. Now it is time for the faith-based revolution to spread its wings and fly. Not only am I not angry or disappointed; I feel full of energy and serenity.
Can you explain what happened in the Likud primaries?
Yes. I lost.
It is very simple. PM Netanyahu gave his orders to the major vote-brokers not to vote for me.
Is PM Netanyahu afraid of you?
It seems that he is. But that is not the point. The problem is not that the PM got rid of me. In depth, the Likud could no longer contain the revolutionary message of Manhigut Yehudit. Over the last two years that I have been in the Knesset, the public was exposed to our message. The public saw how it is possible to firmly retain our principles and fight for them while simultaneously being friends with Meretz MK Zandberg, Dov Hanin from Hadash and even some Arab MKs – all the while championing a message that encompasses all Israelis. It is first and foremost a message of liberty, a message of identity, a message of meaning. As a result, my position today is not that of the classic rightist who finds himself off the Knesset roster. I am in a place of incredible openness to my message – particularly by young people in the kibbutzim, the universities, in the parks and the pubs. I am referring to young Tel Avivians, who are more connected to their Jewish identity and heritage than their parents were. They understand that the existing political platforms are meaningless and they are searching for a future that will imbue their lives with meaning.
Maybe just the opposite is true. Maybe the Likud was telling you that they do not want your message of Jewish leadership.
You are right about the Likud, where the average age of its members is 60. Manhigut Yehudit’s message has to come from a younger place. I have to bring the message directly to the people, especially to the young people. The public has now seen me, the faith-based public has internalized the leadership mentality and the general public has gotten used to the idea that a prime minister with a kippah on his head is not necessarily impossible or wrong. So now is the time to take Manhigut Yehudit’s message to the nation.
After you have lost, you say that the Likud is not the right place for your message?
In truth, I have felt this way for the past five or six years. Those people close to me know that these misgivings weighed upon me all the time. But Manhigut Yehudit is not just a small group that got together yesterday. We have been in this process for over 15 years and many of our members strongly felt that it was best to stay in the Likud. We gave it everything we had, but ultimately, reality charts your course. The pain that we feel upon leaving the Likud are labor pains. Something new has been born. The fetal stage inside another party has come to an end. Now the idea of faith-based leadership for Israel is taking its first independent steps.
But you always said that your idea was to achieve leadership from within the ruling party, from within the Likud.
That is not correct. I have always said – even during the good times – that the Likud is a tool and not the goal and that if there would be a better tool to achieve faith-based leadership for Israel, I would go for it. That is exactly what I am doing now. It is clear to me that at this point that the Likud tool has been exhausted. We are now creating a tool that I believe will bring us to our goal more quickly, in a more exact and better way. The question is not really one of speed but of ability. Inside the Likud, I understood that there was a glass ceiling through which I could never break. So the time has come to go directly to the public.
But did you make a mistake when you didn’t identify the glass ceiling? You always wanted to lead the Likud, never speaking about a glass ceiling. Did you misread the political map?
Politically, I have certainly made a mistake over the past two months. I misread the political map, not identifying undercurrents in a more exact way. Strategically, in the long term, I do not think that I made a mistake. This process has brought an amazing change to the Likud and even more, to Religious Zionism. We both understand that the entire Jewish Home phenomenon is the result of the process I initiated in the Likud. And when you lead the two major National Camp parties to a certain place, you have influenced the entire spectrum of Israeli society. So my influence is much broader than the amount of time that I was in the Knesset. Tactically, we made mistakes and I promise you that I will make more mistakes in the future. But the question is if the strategic plan is right, if we are achieving the desired results. The unequivocal answer is ‘yes’. Now, despite the pain involved in leaving a home and friends, the time has come to move ahead.
What is your next step?
I plan to bring the Jewish leadership ideas directly to the public. It looks like I will establish a political party.
That will run in the upcoming elections?
I do not see how it will be possible to bring the immense idea of Jewish leadership to the public in the coming elections. I want to build this in an orderly fashion, calmly and exactly. I do not rule out other options in the meantime.
What options? Will you join up with Eli Yishai or Michael Ben Ari?
I will not join a tool that contradicts my message.
Are you saying that you will not run in any other platform this time?
I do not want to close any doors, so I am speaking in principle. And my principle is very simple: Manhigut Yehudit has to be elected directly by the public. The way I see it now, I will establish a political party and chances are that it will not run in the upcoming elections.
Let me understand. Michael Ben Ari and Eli Yishai are not ideological partners for you? Did I miss something?
If my goal is to be elected to the upcoming Knesset, I can most likely do so. But that is not my goal. The goal is Jewish leadership for Israel. I have to build this alternative in the most exact way. I am not going to exchange one fetal status with another. I hope that makes it clear.
Who will you vote for in the upcoming elections?
It’s a hard decision. I don’t know what’s worse: The Left’s bad intentions or the Right’s ‘good’ capabilities. I am very concerned about a scenario in which the Likud joins up with Bennet’s party in order to ensure that Netanyahu remains prime minister, as they did last time with Lieberman. I believe that Netanyahu has already made a deal with John Kerry. And then, after Netanyahu has consolidated his power, he will throw Bennett out and join up with Herzog and Livni in order to carry out his plans. Once again, we may find ourselves with the votes of the Right bringing destruction upon us. I am certainly not saying that people should vote for the Left. I am also not saying not to vote for the Right. I am just saying that we need to take a long, hard look at our history and understand that the faith-based public, loyal to the Land of Israel is still at the same dead end. The scenario I just described is probably the most logical of all, and emphasizes the importance of true Jewish leadership for Israel. We must also look at how at every strategic junction; such as last year’s terrorist release – which has already created more families in mourning – or the bill that required the approval of 80 MKs in order to negotiate on Jerusalem, the entire coalition failed – except for the MK that was motivated by the Jewish leadership alternative, yours truly. The alternative that I am promoting is not theoretical: it is critical for the future of the Nation of Israel.
Now we understand who you will not vote for. But who will you vote for?
I have no answer. From within the system there is no answer except for Jewish leadership. Thank you for helping to clarify that.