Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Open the Doors

By Moshe Feiglin

15 Elul, 5770
August 25, '10

Translated from the NRG website

It was Shabbat, and I needed to re-enter the hospital, where my son, David, is being treated. The doors to the hospital are equipped with an electric eye, automatically opening as a person nears the entrance.

This presents a problem on Shabbat, when it is forbidden to activate electricity. An electric eye that opens doors cannot be used on this holiest day of the week.

But never fear; the Tzomet Technological Institute has a modern, technological solution for every Jewish-law challenge that arises. The Tzomet Institute engineers attached a special light for Shabbat observers onto the door of the hospital. They drew a line on the floor in front of the door. Whoever does not cross that line will not be detected by the electric eye. As the Shabbat observer stands behind the line, he must raise his eyes to the light above the door and wait for it to turn green. Every three minutes, the green light goes on, indicating that the electric eye is now taking its Shabbat rest. Even if an elephant would walk over the threshold during those seconds, the electric eye would not detect it.

There I stood, waiting for the green light in my finest Shabbat attire, feeling slightly out of place as pedestrian traffic flowed into the hospital. Suddenly a short man, shaven head, muscled arms, beach clogs, shorts and tank top – I assume that he had just thrown his cigarette away – approached the door. He did not notice me because he was in the middle of a lively conversation on his cell phone, pressed against his ear. He stepped up to the door and the electric eye faithfully opened it wide. But just then, something strange happened. The man moved the cell phone from his right hand to his left hand and used it to cover his head.

I don't know if the person on the other end of the line understood that he was being used as a temporary
kippah: The man's right hand lifted in a movement that cannot be mistaken, his legs marched the width of the door and brought him straight to the mezuzah. The door did not like the idea, but patiently waited until the man kissed the mezuzah. The cell phone promptly returned from the man's shiny head to his ear. His legs carried him forward and the door also understood that the ceremony was finished and returned to its routine.

I don't know who was stranger in this scene – me or him. It seems to me that something was out of place with both of us. Stranded outside the hospital door, watching all the people stream past, I seemed to have taken G-d's word to a place that seemed patently unrealistic. The man with the cell phone seems to have taken reality to G-d in a way blatantly opposed to the interpretation of the Sages, who passed the Torah on from generation to generation. Clearly, the Torah is what the Sages say it is, whether I like it or not. Historically, anyone who has tried alternative interpretations of the Torah has simply disappeared from the Nation of Israel.

In the truly Jewish state, Judaism is supposed to blossom from its current contracted state of religion, to the broad dimension of all-inclusive culture. We are supposed to connect heaven and earth – not to separate them by means of religion or secularism.

So how should a hospital entrance door look in the truly Jewish state? There are two possibilities: One, that the doors in the Jewish state will open with a handle, just like they used to not so long ago.

The second possibility is much more fundamental and true. The Torah of Israel must become the vibrant and vital culture of our lives. It will be the Torah of the Land of Israel in all its glory, Torah that connects heaven and earth in the most direct way – in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Just as King David was not religious or secular, in the future there will no longer be religious or secular Jews. The original Israeli culture that will develop here will inspire the entire world. We can already see signs of that happening today. The shoulders of Israel's sages will broaden enough to connect the Torah to life and to re-delineate the borders of permissible and forbidden. I believe that when that happens, the doors will be wide open for everyone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Economy and Security

By Moshe Feiglin

Israel's economic and security might are at their highest point ever, while its moral standing and ability to preserve the legitimacy of its existence are at an all-time low.

Defense Minister Barak announced this week that he has authorized Israel's purchase of F35 fighter jets from the US. The defense department debated long and hard over whether it is worthwhile for Israel to invest billions for the new jets. Traditionally, the purchase of new jets would set off a mini-celebration in Israel. But this time, it looks like there is nothing to celebrate.

The main argument used time and again to explain why Israel must retreat or why we must not attack Iran is that we will not be able to manage without the American-made spare parts for our fighter jets. This claim is not true. Israel can and does acquire most (and possibly all) of its required spare parts on the open international market – at better prices than from their source.
Israel's continued reliance on American weapons is the perpetuation of the self-loathing mentality that bases Israel's existence on its big brother across the ocean.

It is not even clear that Israel needs these jets. What then, motivates the Defense Minister to authorize their purchase?

The disengagement of the Jews from reality - a.k.a. G-d - leads to its disengagement from its Land. This process of disengagement inevitably results in Israel making "painful concessions." Before these concessions, the US always sends some new weapons system our way, in an attempt to ease the pressure on Israel's leadership and to help it convince the Israeli public to swallow the bitter pill.

Israel should have neutralized the Iranian threat a long time ago, with or without the F35. It did not do so, and probably will not do so until the nuclear reactor is activated in a few days – not because of lack of operational capabilities but due to lack of moral/societal/political resilience. The F35 purchase will not add to this resilience. It will only to serve to make Israel more mentally subservient to the US, aggravating an already bad situation.

Does this mean that Israel should not use American weapons?

An authentic Jewish Israel will use excellent products from around the world – both material and cultural. The authentic Jewish State will conduct diverse and widespread commerce. Its international relations will be based upon mutual respect. Where needed, it will also engage in strategic alliances with other nations. But all of these foreign relations will be predicated upon the focal point – Israel's immutable connection to its G-d.

It was not difficult to anticipate the future of the relations between Israel and Turkey. The reason for the intelligence gaffe on the flotilla was not operational, but conceptual. Trapped in the conceptual world of 'peace,' the IDF could not prepare for war. Israel, incapable of understanding the theological roots of the conflict and the faith that lies at the foundation of all cultures was dazzled by secular Turkey, misreading developments in the country.

Exchanging Greece for Turkey is the repetition of the same mistake. Leadership that does not understand the basic hatred of Esau for Jacob, will continue to rely on alliances on shifting sands. No strategic alliances can help a nation that has lost the faith in its right to exist. Cutting-edge weapons won't help, either.

Israel must prepare itself for the future both economically and militarily.

Israel's economy must evolve so that it will become basically self-sufficient. The world is marching toward major crisis that will decrease Israel's export opportunities. The more that Israel's economy can absorb local products, the less damage we will incur from the approaching crisis. For our long term economic independence as well, we must encourage the manufacture of local products – even if we can currently buy them abroad for less.

This is even more true for weapons development. The Israeli Lavie fighter jet project (eliminated by Yitzchak Rabin) was cancelled due to economic considerations. But if today, the backbone of Israel's Air Force had been based on Israeli jets, it may just be that the Iranian threat would not exist. Not only because of the operational capabilities of the Lavie, but mainly because it would have freed us of our dependence- mentality on the US. Even now, Israel still has options to produce its own jet fighters, with the cooperation and funding of other countries that do not wish to be dependant on American weapons. The choice of the F35 testifies to serious cognitive paralysis.

Israel must make G-d its focal point as it adapts its culture to its Jewish values. When it will do so, it will conduct itself naturally, logically and successfully on every plane.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Creating a Jewish Economy

By Moshe Feiglin

You shall not lend with interest to your brother: interest of money, interest of food, interest of any thing that is lent upon interest. To a foreigner you may lend with interest; but to your brother you shall not lend with interest; so that G-d your G-d may bless you in all the works of your hand, in the Land to which you are going, to possess it. (From this week's Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, Deuteronomy 23:20-21)

Israel's economic situation is excellent, thank G-d. Our economy is faring much better than the other Western economies. The great world crisis has passed over us, more or less. Israel's external debt is among the smallest in the world, its currency is among the most stable in the world, commercial consumption is on the rise and unemployment is at reasonable levels compared to the industrialized nations.

Just a few years ago, it was considered prudent for Israelis to keep some dollars stashed away for a rainy day. Today, an American who wishes to keep the value of his money intact would be prudent to buy the Israeli shekel. Not only that, but we have begun to argue over how to divide up the unprecedented revenues from natural gas that has recently been discovered off of Israel's shores.

Israel seems to be at the beginning of a major economic upswing, while the economies of the rest of the world are failing. Nevertheless, most of the households in Israel are overdrawn. The state has a lot of money, but the values at the foundation of its use – both private and national – do not allow the abundance to effectively trickle down to the people.

Can Israel operate a modern economy based on the principles of Judaism?
Can a bank be profitable without charging its individual customers interest? Can a bank be profitable strictly from its finance of investment and trade? Can Israel transfer all the loans for the funding of private consumption to private, interest-free loan societies? How can we translate the concepts of Shmittah, Monetary Shmittah and Jubilee to the modern marketplace?

G-d is showering us with abundance. We must work hard to understand how to integrate this blessing so that it does not become a stumbling block, G-d forbid.

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Are We Willing to Pay the Price?

By Moshe Feiglin

Click here for Moshe Feiglin's television interview (English transcript) on MVAs

8 Elul, 5770
August 18, '10

Translated from the article on the NRG website

The family from Beitar Ilit that was crushed by a train last week and my son who is still unconscious in the rehabilitation ward after an MVA are just two tragic examples of a national blight that robs us of our lives and health.

We tend to relate to traffic accidents on an emotional level and to say that we have done all we can. Just like with Gilad Shalit or Jonathan Pollard. We assume that the powers that be are doing everything possible. But the truth is that they are doing everything possible within the framework of what we are willing to pay. Pollard and Shalit are not home because we, as a society, are not willing to pay the real price that must be paid for their release. Instead, we pay lip service - and our captives remain in captivity.

If thousands of jailed Hamas terrorists are still receiving visits and luxury conditions, that means that we really want Gilad home, but that we are not willing to pay the price. And if in the past twenty five years not one official Israeli request for the release of Jonathan Pollard has been served, that means that we don't really want him and that we are certainly not willing to pay the price.

The same is true for MVAs. Everyone knows what the solution is, but nobody is willing to pay the price. I have been driving for 30 years. I think that I am a very careful and courteous driver. My children always joke that on the day that I will honk the horn, a plume of dust will rise over the hood of our car. Nevertheless, I sometimes find myself speeding. Not seriously, but going over the speed limit. It is an expression of the gap between reality, in which traffic is flowing at a certain speed -and what the signs say.

Are we willing to pay the price to close the gap between the law and reality? That entails two things: One, to adjust the law to modern highways and automobiles and two, to make the drivers responsible for their driving.

After the small legal adjustment, laws that remain on the books must be enforced without exception. Even the smallest traffic offense should bring about an unequivocal reaction: Driver's license revoked and vehicle put in storage at the owner's expense until the verdict in court. In the meantime, the driver will have to make do with public transportation.

The State must regard investment in bike paths that run parallel to all the highways in the country and serious improvements in the bus and train infrastructure as national priorities that take precedence over new interchanges or traffic lights. When we will be able to ride our bicycles to the nearest city or inter-city train station, when the train will arrive on time and we will know that we will be able to board the train or bus with our bicycles (there are simple apparatuses that serve this purpose), many of us will do so. By the way, air pollution kills more people than MVAs. Most of it comes from auto exhaust, which means that the use of mass public transportation will save many lives on the health front, as well.

If our work places will be equipped with showers and suitable storage for bicycles, how many able-bodied people will want to drive to work in their cars?

Are we willing to pay the price? I don't think so. It is a matter of culture. And sadly, in our culture, there are things that take precedence over human life.

Another example: I have no doubt that cell phone conversations while driving - even hands-free - cost lives. There is nothing that distracts a driver's attention more than his cell phone; dialing, text messages, the second that he must look away from the road to answer his call and of course - the actual conversation. Are we willing to pay the price and to decide that in Israel it is prohibited to talk on the cell phone while driving?

Today, I am willing to pay the price. Why wait?

Monday, August 16, 2010

A New Approach to the Chronic Left Turn

By Moshe Feiglin

Scene I
The Israeli family has answered the Settlerman family's invitation and is coming to their house for Shabbat. As soon as they arrive, the Settlerman's angrily eye the Israeli daughters' immodest attire. When Mr. Israeli's cell phone begins to ring in the middle of the Lecha Dodi Sabbath prayers, the cantor demonstratively stops the services. When Mr. Israeli goes out to smoke a cigarette at the end of the festive Shabbat meal, an entire delegation arrives to demand that the guests honor the settlement's ethical code or leave.

Scene II
The Israeli family has answered the Settlerman family's invitation and is coming to their house for Shabbat. Parts of their lifestyle totally contradict the values of the Settlerman family. But the hosts understand that the Israeli family lives with a different frame of reference and that they cannot judge them according to their own values or those of their settlement. The Settlermans also understand that if the Israelis came to them, it means that they understand that something is missing in their lives. The best way to explain to them that they need not look for what is missing at the settlers' doorstep is to relate to them according to the model in Scene I. But the Settlermans turn to the other extreme and decide to allow the Israeli family to act as they always do; to drive their car right up to their house on Shabbat, to turn on the television at full volume and to barbeque on Shabbat afternoon. The Israeli family decides to leave because they do not feel that the Settlermans have anything new to offer them.

How should the Settlermans have acted? The secret is not to try to rectify others, but to suffice with setting basic boundaries past which you no longer feel comfortable. (i.e. On Shabbat, please park your car by the entrance to the settlement) and to focus on the alternative. Of course, it is preferable to do all this with a smile.

Everything we have written till now could have appeared in any of the rightist or religious newspapers. Why are we writing about it in the weekly update?

Let us go ahead to Scene III
The Prime Minister of Israel decides to freeze the settlements for 10 months. Clearly, this is no less a transgression than lighting a cigarette on Shabbat. It is also clear that the Prime Minister is not motivated by hatred of the settlers. He is doing this because, just like in the example above, his frame of reference does not allow for a different solution. In his frame of reference there are Obama, the Turkish flotilla, Goldstone and the European boycott. In order to maneuver between all the pressures, he has to throw them a bone.

Is he right? Of course not!
Does his course of action lead to a solution? Not at all!

But that is how the PM sees reality. Sadly, that is also how the majority of Israelis see reality. Most of the nation is still living within the frame of reference in which women dress according to a different code, most people do not keep the laws of Shabbat and the nation's existential anchor (ridiculously) is Obama and not the G-d of Israel.

How have we dealt with this problem till now?
Judging by the results, not very successfully. We have likely made all the mistakes in Scene I and Scene II. Either we turned the struggle into the goal, or we made appeasement our goal. In either case, we have not tried to present the Israeli Family with a different life alternative. We have never tried to invite the Nation of Israel to us, or even more specifically - to bring our values system to the rest of the nation.

We must not give up on the continuation of building in Judea and Samaria. We must take positive action to ensure that the building freeze will not continue. But we must also remember that in the existing Israeli frame of reference, there is no other solution. It is no coincidence that the most rightist politicians turn left as soon as they get into the PM's chair. They do not have a frame of reference in which they could implement a different policy. Whether we conduct a public relations campaign or we block traffic - if we do not supply that new frame of reference, the final result will repeat itself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Justice and the Land

By Moshe Feiglin

"Judges and police you shall put in all your gates that G-d, your G-d gives you." (From this week's Torah portion, Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18)
"Justice, justice you shall pursue so that you may live and you will inherit the Land that G-d your G-d gives you."
(ibid 20)

The Land is from G-d and justice is from G-d. If you forget that, you will not have a Land and you will not have a state. There is no such thing as a state without a court system - that is clear. The very essence of the state is its authority and obligation to create and implement a justice system. But when the justice system thinks that it can draw judgment and justice from within itself - "the test of the enlightened man -" in the words of the oracle of Israel's justice system, the entire system goes into a tailspin and brings about the loss of the state.

"What is the story with the policeman who went to jail?" a naive Jew asked me. "What did he do?"
"He caught a thief," I answered.
"But that is what a police officer is supposed to do, isn't it?"
"Yes, but he killed him."
"Did the thief threaten him?
"So what is the problem?"

You can imagine the rest of the conversation. But what is clear is that in order to inherit the Land, we need judges and police who act justly because they understand Who gives the Land to us.

Shabbat Shalom

Confused? Welcome to the Club

By Moshe Feiglin

3 Elul, 5770
August 13, '10

Translated from the Ma'ariv NRG website

First course

Did you hear what happened yesterday?

I didn't have time to hear the news - I got home from the hospital just a few minutes before Shabbat.

A Grad missile fell on Ashkelon.

Really? Was anybody hurt?

Miraculously, it fell on an empty house.

This is starting to sound like the miracles that happened in Gush Katif.

So what is your solution?

The main course.

What do you think about Latma?

It's very nice.

Do you ever go into their website?

I haven't had much time of late. But I remember a few excellent satires that they produced. Actually, the satires on the Turks and the flotilla didn't really impress me. I really enjoyed the satire on the High Court.

Finally, the Right is learning how to work!

In other words?

This is the way to change public opinion!

I think that they are very good, and I enjoy watching their satires, just like I enjoy leftist satires - which do not exist today. But I do not think that they are responsible for the change in public opinion. Public opinion would have changed anyway.

It is difficult to find "leftists" today. But nevertheless, the entire Nation of Israel is focused on recognizing the "Palestinian Nation" and the division of our Land - all brought to us from the feverish workshops of the radical Left. It may be that the Right has learned how to conduct more sophisticated demonstrations, but the bottom line is that whether it blocks traffic or creates good satire - the final result is the same.

So what do you suggest?


What do you think about what happened this week with Haim Ramon? Amazing, isn't it?

Just when Ayalah Hasson started to talk about it, I had to get out of my car. Before Shabbat I saw a headline. What exactly happened?

He tried to convince Saeb Erekat not to enter direct negotiations with Netanyahu.

Why doesn't Ramon want direct negotiations?

Because he thinks that if there are no direct negotiations, Netanyahu's government will fall. He promised Erekat a much better deal with Kadimah than with the Likud. By the way, all of this was done in Shimon Peres' name. Every Friday the entire Oslo gang meets at the Presidential Residence; Ron Pundak, Haim Ramon, all of them with Shimon Peres. Rabin knew what he was talking about when he called him an untiring subversive.

And what do you want?

What do you mean, what do I want?

Are you for or against direct negotiations?

In truth, I hope that they will not take place. Because even Obama would understand that if there are no direct negotiations, it will be impossible to continue the building freeze.

So you are in favor of Haim Ramon?

Well -

In other words, you don't want Latma to influence public opinion?

Uhhh -

Do you understand what has happened? For decades, the Right has been stuck inside itself, attempting to change reality with the same, old methods. It makes no difference how small the Left is or by what majority the Right wins the elections. The Left will continue to determine what happens here because you can simply not tell me what you want.

So what do you suggest?

I suggest telling the public and ourselves the truth. To start from the basics. Not from 'yes' or 'no' to direct negotiations. I suggest that we start from the fundamental questions, like: What are we doing here? Why does there have to be a Jewish State? Why should we be Jews, at all? Every time that I asked Israeli youth these question, they didn't have an answer. And I am telling you that adults don't have an answer, either.

We must redefine our national goals. Is the goal for which we established the state peace? If it is, then Peres may be right and we have to get out of Judea and Samaria. After all, since 1973 we have been trying to achieve peace and it has not really worked. So maybe the only way really is peace in exchange for our homes?

If we have a different goal, we have to say so honestly and explicitly. After that we can progress and show the public how a state that functions according to Jewish values can successfully deal with all the challenges that we cannot manage today. In all areas of life: Education, traffic accidents, security, economy, foreign relations. How only an authentically Jewish state can bring true liberty and prosperity and how it would ultimately also bring peace with our neighbors.

The reason that we have not managed to change Israel's leftist policies is that despite the fact that the Right is a large majority and despite the fact that we are "in power" we are continuing to play on the arena that the Left has established. I would define it as the existence arena, the normalcy arena that is founded on the assumption that we are a nation just like any other that wants only to find a quiet place under the sun.

We must make the move from existential Zionism to the Zionism of destiny. If we do not do so, we will continue to fight a hopeless rearguard war until the absolute disintegration of our existence. And it makes no difference how strong, sophisticated or wealthy we may be.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Entitlement and Life

By Moshe Feiglin

1 Elul, 5770
August 10, '10

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper

Your graying hair is simply cut. No, you don't dye it.
You wear a simple, wide oriental dress that - under other circumstances - could well serve a settler from the hilltops.
Very intelligent - that is clear.
About fifty years old, with a student's backpack.
Of European descent - that is also clear.
Very fluent, Israeli Hebrew.
Just like the women of the radical left Machsom Watch.
Surely, you are also part of that group.

You do not know Arabic, and you devotedly help the Arabs that you accompany to the Israeli hospital - Arabs from Gaza till Afghanistan - with a mixture of Hebrew and English. You offer a cup of water to a crying mother, to another you offer a chair, you take care of their paperwork. You are a special woman - no doubt about it. Everyone already knows you here - and respects you.

We did not exchange one word. But the weeks of furtive glances that we exchanged said it all. Once, I would simply have hated you. I would have considered you a traitor. Why are you fluttering around a burned child who was playing with a bomb that for some reason was in his backyard in Kalkilyah? Is there not enough Jewish pain into which to channel your kindness?

But the anger has been replaced by a feeling of pity. I understand where you are coming from. I saw people like you not long ago, in protected housing for Holocaust survivors. I happened to have met a group of German youth there. They volunteer there regularly, to try to atone at least a bit for the crimes of their fathers.

You are motivated by the same, horrible feeling of collective guilt that you have taken upon your conscience. You are trying to atone for their dispossession from "their" land. But unlike the youths from Germany, here in the hospital you come face to face with someone who still believes in the "Occupation."

I am not the only one looking at you. The Arabs who you so selflessly help are also looking. Most of them are good people, sympathizing, trying to calm a crying child. But what do they think when they see you, an Israeli who thinks that if she stole Sheikh Munis from them in 1948, they will forgive her if she brings them a cup of water?

In truth, I have more respect for them than you do. I do not try to buy them with superficial friendliness. I think that they respect me much more than they do you because you have declared that you are a robber and I - I am living on my Land. They understand and respect that.

You have won. The State of Israel has lined up with your worldview and in the end, you even convinced the Arabs. We could have lived with them very well. With mutual respect, with peace. I saw them. Professional, human - regular people. If not for you, an Arab in the state of the Jews would have had no problem. But you convinced them that they have been robbed. It took time. The generations of 1948 and the Six Day War made way for a new generation that was born into the Occupation mindset that you have instilled in them.

The newscaster announces that the terrorist who murdered the policeman a few months ago has been apprehended. He admitted that he had been planning an abduction and that the
kippot (skullcaps) that were to be used to confuse the police who would hurry to help - were bought in Jerusalem. His daughter was being treated in the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and her father was authorized to accompany her. Maybe you were even there and offered him a chair or a cup of water. Maybe you ran through the hospital corridors, helping him with his paperwork. And he - while his daughter was being treated at a Jewish hospital - took advantage of his time in the Jewish city to buy what he needed to carry out the abduction that turned into the murder of a Jewish policeman.

Did he feel any shame when he admitted those details?
Of course not.
Will anybody think twice before allowing Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza to be treated in Israeli hospitals?
Of course not.

After all, you are the strong one here - not me.
You determine the mindset, the agenda.
And both sides are stuck in the "Occupation" mentality that you have created.

We have no problem with the Arabs. Our only problem is with you - or more specifically - with me. Because I have not yet managed to replace your disengaged consciousness with the consciousness of Jewish entitlement to this Land.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Truth Behind the Foreign Workers Debate

By Moshe Feiglin

Ben Dror Yemini is one of the few voices in Israel's mainstream press that dares side with the government's decision to return a small portion of children of foreign workers to their home countries. In a courageous article that he published Tuesday morning, (Hebrew) Yemini delineates the problem and bemoans the fact that the absolute majority of public opinion shapers in Israel have adopted the populist position, while leaving the weak sector of society to pay the price. Yemini accuses the media, who with no exception show the sweet, foreign-looking children begging in perfect Hebrew to remain in Israel - of being strong against the weak. "Let's see them making room in their luxury apartments for five illegal worker families, and then we can talk," Yemini wrote.

Yemini is right, but the source of the problem lies much deeper.

The assumption is that the foreign workers problem is a technical problem. According to this approach, they have their reasons for entering Israel, there are quite a few businesses and institutions in Israel that are happy to employ them - and the government must find the proper balance between the different interests and human and social problems that are created as a result.

But if we look to see who dominates the campaign against the banishment of the foreign children, we quickly discover that they are not the representatives of senior-citizens homes or farmers desperate for more working hands. In other words, the motivation of the leaders of the struggle against the government is not economic. It is ideological. Interestingly, it is the very same elements that encourage the expulsion of Jewish children from their homes. And no amount of Jewish children's tears will change their views.

At its root, this is not a case of spoiled populism of public-opinion shapers on the backs of Israel's poor. This is the tip of the ideological iceberg of something much larger than the question of illegal immigration.

It is no surprise that many of the NGOs lobbying in the Knesset against returning the foreigners to their countries are funded by the New Israel Fund. They want a new Israel: an Israel bereft of national identity, a state of all its citizens, a state that is not Jewish.

We must see the foreign workers issue as part of a multi-pronged attack on the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. One part of the offensive is fostering the immigration of complete Christians from the former USSR to Israel. These people do not identify as Jews, are not at all interested in converting to Judaism, establish churches here and have even begun to demand cultural autonomy. Any cultural or ethnic element that will dilute Israeli/Jewish identity with other cultures will receive the support of those elements and groups that are now bitterly protesting the banishment of the foreign workers' children.

Nobody likes to see crying children being led against their will to the airplanes home. But it is very important to understand that this has nothing to do with humanitarianism. It is the cynical exploitation of our shared concern for our fellow human beings in the service of an ideological agenda.

Israel's humanitarian approach should be expressed by the manner in which we return the foreigners. We cannot ignore the fact that although these workers are illegal, Israel's policies until now have contradicted themselves. As such, we can offer reimbursement for those foreign workers who were illegally in Israel prior to the cabinet decision. We can take these steps in a moral and respectful way; we must not humiliate anybody. We can give them a reasonable amount of time to attend to their arrangements and we can help them as much as possible. That is how a Jewish state should respond to this crisis.

Ultimately, though, Israel's government must remember Ben Gurion's words at the establishment of the State: "We hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel." A Jewish state - not a state of all its citizens.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

This Time We'll Wake Up on Time

By Moshe Feiglin

24 Av, 5770
August 4, '10

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper

I sat in the garage waiting room. The air conditioner in my car was no match for the July heat. Yehudah the mechanic understood that I was on my way to the hospital and took care of me right away.

"Excuse me, perhaps you are Feiglin?" asked the man sitting next to me.

"Yes, pleased to meet you."

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Feel free. Maybe I will have an answer."

"Are you really as extreme and dangerous as they say?"

"Maybe you can explain what you think is extreme so that I can answer."

"Look, before the Disengagement, people from Gush Katif came to my moshav and attempted to explain their point of view. I invited them in and they were happy because not everyone was excited about allowing them into their living rooms. They explained themselves pretty well, until they said that the East Bank of the Jordan is also ours. That is where they lost me, because I understood that nothing will satisfy them. Even if all the Arabs get up and leave, they will still want more. That is what I call extreme," he declared.

"I am loyal to the entire Land of Israel and its borders as they are delineated in the Bible," I answered him. "I do not think that we have to initiate wars today to conquer the East Bank of the Jordan, but it must be clear that this is our Land. In the event that parts of that territory fall into our hands in a war of self-defense, we must declare sovereignty over them, just as we did in the Golan Heights. Israel should enact a Law of Return for land. That, by the way, will bring peace, because the Arabs will have what to lose from wars."

"I think that it was right to retreat from Gush Katif, but that we should have responded with more force the moment that they started to shoot," the man continued.

"What is your dream?" I tried to get him onto a more substantive track. "What are you ultimately trying to achieve?"

"I don't believe that we will have peace with them, but we can achieve some sort of calm if in addition to retreat we also display determination," he added.

"In other words, your dream is calm, or some sort of peace," I said to him. "So why not in Australia? Or New Zealand?"

"No, no," said the man. "I believe that this is my place because of our history, and I have no intention of giving that up. But what do I need Shechem for? Do you want to tell me that you want to return to Gaza? I prefer to leave the places that have Arabs."

I tried to refute his claims, I said that in the Galilee there is an Arab majority, I demonstrated that questions of majority or minority never prevented the Arabs from fighting us and I got dragged into an exhausting discussion. All the facts were on my side. I showed him how he had been deceived until now and how, despite the fact that all his basic assumptions have already exploded in his face time and again, he still stands by them. "The State of Israel is rapidly losing its right to exist on the face of the globe; senior ministers are wanted for war crimes in European capitals - and all this after you expelled eight thousand Jews from their homes and gave the entire Gaza Strip to the Arabs. What does that say about your concept?" I asked.

"I think that if we create good living conditions for them, they will have less children and will stop inciting wars," he answered.

Another person joined the discussion and adamantly claimed that half of Israel's population is Arab. I told him that there are 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria and he claimed that there is a professor with much higher statistics. I fell into the trap and submersed myself in the sea of details. Because it really makes no difference if there are one million Arabs or ten million. As soon as I surrendered the question of substance, I lost. Even if the statistics that I quote are irrefutable, they serve the basic assumptions of the other side. If the argument is over how many Arabs are here, that means that the factor that will determine to whom this Land belongs is quantitative and not substantive. As soon as I was dragged into that debate, I had surrendered the Jewish truth, futilely attempting to prove my points according to democratic and other foundations. And on that arena - even if the facts are on my side - I have already lost my moral foundation.

"Your car's ready," Yehudah called out, and handed me the keys. The man from the moshav and the man who had chimed in attempted to continue to argue - but I was already on my way out with a feeling of having missed the mark.

Once again I realized that facts are insignificant. The basic assumptions of the Israeli public are still the assumptions of Oslo. The public is certainly more rightist, but it makes no difference. On its conceptual arena, reality has no significance. Until we manage to move the public onto a different conceptual arena, it will be willing to buy Oslo 3, 4 and 5.

Late at night, as I neared home, I drove by a billboard put up by the Yesha Council: "This time we will wake up on time."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Bridge: A Letter to Manhigut Yehudit Members

By Moshe Feiglin

Dear Friends,

When Manhigut Yehudit set out - and especially after we joined the Likud and I declared my candidacy for the head of the Likud, many experts warned us that we were jumping into a shark's pool. "Either they will eat you alive," they predicted, "or you will become one of them."

Thank G-d, we did not heed the warnings, and today, ten years later, we have not been eaten alive and we have not turned into ordinary politicians. Even though I am not a Knesset Member, I am identified as such more than the real MKs and ministers. We are simultaneously both inside and outside the "shark's pool" (which, by the way, contains many friendly sharks, as well). We are positioned in a way that makes it hard for the sharks to sink their teeth into us. Unless we forget what we are doing in the pool, in the first place. When that happens, we become vulnerable to all the rules of the pool and are unceremoniously eaten.

When we set out, the idea of a faith-based prime ministerial candidate seemed preposterous. We were perceived as a naive group that was playing make-believe against all odds. But now, ten years later, we can safely claim success. Faith-based candidacy for the role of prime minister has become part of the political scene in Israel, we achieved second place in the last primaries for head of the Likud and the fierce opposition to my candidacy proved to all just how serious of a threat we are to the existing political culture.

Manhigut Yehudit's initial and sole focus was on public awareness. Our message reached the religious-nationalist sector, but not far beyond it. When we joined the Likud, the gates to the entire Nation of Israel were opened to us. The more progress we made in the Likud, the more attention our message received. There is no doubt about it - it was right to join the Likud.

However, the dynamics of our political progress sometimes blurred the fact that for us, politics is nothing but a means to an end. Our goal is to change the public mindset. But Israel's national mentality cannot extricate itself from its dead end without a new awareness that comes from outside it.

So was it a mistake to enter politics? Maybe we should have remained a strictly ideological movement? But on the other hand, we would not have been able to influence the broad public outside politics and outside the Likud. It is confusing, but that is just the point. Manhigut Yehudit is the bridge between the existing reality and the future reality. On one hand we are firmly planted on both banks. On the other hand, when we shift our weight from one bank to the next, the entire bridge shakes.

At the present, it seems that we have exhausted the political bank. It is now time for us to re-focus on energies on the ideological bank. This means that we will minimize our criticism of the existing reality and invest all our energies into creating an ideological alternative.

We must propose specific alternatives to the public - show them how with a solid base of Jewish consciousness, we would successfully navigate the crises that our country faces. The first step is to create an independent ideological platform that will describe the proposed authentic Jewish State in fascinating terms - and to publicize it in universities and colleges, and not just within the national-religious sector.

The goal that we have set for ourselves is revolutionary; no less difficult than the goals we have taken upon ourselves until now. But if we succeed, the bridge that we have begun to build from the current reality to the authentically Jewish State - will be completed.