Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Freedom to Educate

By Moshe Feiglin

Ever since G-d redeemed us from Egypt and gave us the Torah on Mt. Sinai, we have been a free People. We are servants of G-d alone and not servants of servants.

Israel's High Court declaration that its decisions take precedence over the word of G-d obligates every Jew and every citizen who considers himself a free person to support the Haredim on the Emanuel issue. We may disagree with the Haredim on many topics. There is no doubt that discrimination is a serious contradiction of G-d's word. What we certainly do have in common with the Haredim, though, is the principle that G-d's Torah is the ultimate authority.

"You are not in favor of democracy?" Ynet reporter Atilla Shumfalvi asked me at the Haredi protest tent outside the prison where the Emanuel fathers are incarcerated. His question revealed Israel's mainstream media's distorted view of freedom and civil rights. "Democracy that dictates what values parents much teach their children and jails those parents who educate according to their own values is the democracy of Stalin." I answered.

The Emanuel parents removed their daughters from the school in question months ago. They remodeled a private school building at their own expense, paid for armored buses to transport their daughters to the new school, paid the teachers' salaries and also paid a daily fine of 400 shekels (over $100) for every day that they did not send their daughters to the Emauel school. From the moment that the parents had removed their daughters from the Emanuel school, which receives partial state-funding, the High Court has no moral authority to interfere. When parents choose to privately educate their children, no authority should be able to compromise their right to educate their children as they see fit.

The Religious Zionists who hurried to side with the High Court and to decry the Haredi discrimination may find themselves once again holding the short end of the stick. What will they say when the "enlightened" High Court justices rule that they must allow their Arab neighbors' children into their schools and teach their children the poems of Mohammed Darwish instead of the Torah of Moses?

Click here for Moshe Feiglin's short film on the Emanuel case.

Manhigut Yehudit Staying in Likud: The Movie

Last month's Likud Central Committee vote triggered a period of introspection in Manhigut Yehudit. The vote was not merely procedural. Netanyahu's goal in changing the Likud constitution was to pave the way to retreat from Jerusalem. The fact that Netanyahu's proposal won a special majority of the votes and - no less important – the way that the proposal was passed, forced us to reconsider a number of our basic assumptions.

We did not hide the fact that we were in a process of deliberation. On the contrary, we held meetings throughout Israel with all interested members of Manhigut Yehudit. We also held countless email and phone discussions with concerned Manhigut supporters from around the world. This important and inspiring process led us to conclusions that differed from our initial response. We are very proud of the process of collective soul searching that took place.

Below, Moshe Feiglin fills us in on some of the details of Manhigut Yehudit's official position on the Likud. Scroll down past the video box for an English translation of his (Hebrew) message.

Dear friends of Manhigut Yehudit, Shalom. We are staying in the Likud!

The Likud is still the leadership tool of the national camp. Neither Netanyahu's willingness to surrender Jerusalem, nor the serious blow to the democratic process in the party have changed that fact. Am Yisrael is still in the party and the Likud remains the arena upon which Israel's leadership battles are played out. We have no intention of leaving that arena. We will continue to work in the Likud, to register new members – and I will continue to run for the leadership of the party and the State of Israel.

We certainly understand that the enlightened tyranny has no intention of surrendering its hegemony over the State of Israel and - when it comes to Manhigut Yehudit – the rule of their game is to break the rules. We have set our sights high and we know that the higher we climb, the more forces will try to prevent us from achieving our goals. Presently, our ability to continue to progress despite the forces arrayed against us is being tested.

We have a lot of work waiting for us – both within politics and without:

In addition to our political activism, we plan to redouble our efforts to develop Manhigut Yehudit as an ideological and social movement. We must reach out to all sectors of Israeli society and articulate clear policies and definitive answers to the challenges that Israel faces today. We have solutions to the dangers looming on Israel's horizon. Our faith-based perspective has given rise to realistic and effective solutions for Israel's woes. We have solutions for education in the various sectors of our nation; we have solutions for welfare and the economy, demography, Arab terror and the blockade on Gaza. Faith based leadership will not leave Jonathan Pollard to rot in prison or Gilad Shalit to rot in captivity. Our challenge is to ensure that every Jew in Israel will know about the Jewish leadership alternative and will strive to make it a reality.

We have faith and we have practical solutions. We are sticking to our goals and remaining in the national leadership arena. We express the truth and are bonded with the Eternal One of Israel. For all those reasons and with G-d's help, we will turn our aspirations into a new reality for Israel.

The State of Israel is in disarray. As talented as it may be, our current leadership is retreating on all fronts. Their lack of confidence in the justness of our very existence leads them to constantly attempt to placate the world with more withdrawals and more capitulation.

Israel must be firm in its conviction that our existence in the Land of Israel is just and that our Land belongs exclusively to the Jewish People by virtue of G-d's promise to our forefathers. The only movement that proposes just such a vision and a faith-based Jewish alternative for the State of Israel is Manhigut Yehudit. We will never abandon our struggle for real Jewish leadership for Israel. We place our trust in the G-d of Israel, we believe in the Nation of Israel and we are loyal to the Torah of Israel.

The moment that our nation will cry out for faith-based leadership is rapidly approaching. With G-d's help, we will be there – ready to land on our feet – when that happens.

Manhigut Yehudit is planting the seeds of the faith-based revolution throughout Israel.
Now is the time to help. Click here to donate.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Israel's Leadership Needs Faith-Based Lenses

By Moshe Feiglin

And the donkey saw the angel of G-d and she pressed against the wall and she pressed Bilam's foot into the wall and he continued to strike her. (From this week's Torah portion, Balak, Numbers 22:25)

From the lofty heights of his saddle, Bilam's perspective should have been better than his donkey's view on the world; the donkey had to keep her eyes on the ground, while Bilam was able to look ahead. Israel's public is busy with its daily routine, certain that the leadership that rides on its back and is funded by its taxes - free to see far and wide and privy to the latest intelligence reports – certainly sees the real picture of events as they unfold.

In the Land of Israel, though, one cannot see the real picture without lenses of faith in G-d. Israel's faithless leadership is blind. It is a vision-less leadership that busies itself with tactical calculations instead of solving Israel's strategic problems. It is a faithless leadership that is condemned to waging a prolonged, hopeless, dead-end battle for its survival.

Every donkey understood that the Expulsion was a bad idea – nobody argues otherwise today – but the vision-less people that rode on the back of the public then could not see the truth. Those same people still ride on our backs, today. They still cannot see and they still continue with their ill-conceived series of blunders.
Even donkeys understand that Israel's leadership has not even come close to distancing the Iranian threat from our country. Instead of strengthening its position, Israel is rapidly becoming an extraneous ship of lepers on the face of the globe. Only our leadership remains stubbornly blind to reality, relentlessly striking the nation upon which it rides instead of courageously protecting our country.

On our way to the faith-based revolution we must remember that the ordinary Jew with faith in G-d sees a lot more clearly than the faithless leader with the most sophisticated intelligence resources. When G-d is not in their picture, the most obvious facts are outside our leaders' field of vision.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Missing Link between the Individual and the State

By Moshe Feiglin

Translated from the article on Ma'ariv's NRG website

We spent Shabbat at Avnei Eitan in the Golan Heights. Childhood friends who were driven out of Gush Katif now live there in a neighborhood of trailer homes. They have not yet received authorization to build a permanent home, but with no help from anyone, they did build three small guest cabins in their back yard. We packed up our extended family and set out to the north for some R&R in the small slice of heaven-on-earth that G-d has given our friends in the Golan Heights.

From the looks of things up north, tourism has become the main source of income for the farmers there. The state of Tel Aviv is in desperate search of some open countryside and clean air and farms that were once dangerously close to bankruptcy have a generous supply of both those commodities. Thank G-d, the tourism business up north is a success story. I pray that some of this prosperity will rub off on the Gush Katif refugees who I met in Avnei Eitan.

Where do these people, aged 50 plus, get the strength to start all over again, and in the Golan Heights, no less, which has been teetering on the edge of Israeli retreat for the past forty years? I did not ask them. Shabbat is not the time to open unhealed wounds. But clearly, a good part of the answer is that the Gush Katif refugees have an asset that most of the Nation of Israel lacks: Community.

Historically, Jews have always lived in structured communities. When we returned to our Land - and even more so, when we established our state - someone decided that the community was extraneous and its power and authority should be transferred to the centralized state of the Labor party (then called Mapai). The traditional communities were scratched and the Zionist melting pot boiled us all into one big "Mother of all Communities."

The lyrics to a popular song by the Dudaim Duo from about thirty years ago artfully depict the outcome: (freely translated)

Pushed and shoved into small cans of tin
Waiting for a bit of air
The people stuck inside knock and knock
They want to get out
The people outside want to get back in

We don't see the blue skies
We don't see the rainbow in the clouds
There are no more holidays, just ordinary days
The entire world is black and white.

The individual bereft of community is a very lonely and hopeless person. Somewhere out there, in the government offices, there are faceless people who have been hired to run his life. But these clerks, even if they have good intentions, have no real ability to understand the individual's needs and no convincing reason to really help him. Modern technology has exacerbated the problem; who dares dream today of calling a large office and talking to a real person? It is impossible to reach the heads of the Mother of all Communities. The government offices have websites and you, Mr. Cohen, can talk to the wall - or to the computer screen.

In almost every democracy in the world, elections are district-based. District-based elections encourage the development of local leadership and motivate that leadership to take responsibility. In the US, every citizen has his congressman, alderman or precinct captain. Even the local police chief and the local judge are elected by the community. An elected public official presumably wants to be re-elected, so he will make sure to answer phone calls and to do his best to attend to the needs of his constituents.

In Israel, the political parties are more like large corporations. The individual does not vote for people. Instead he must vote for labels, who sit on high with one hundred percent power and zero responsibility.

Israel is becoming a wealthy state. Nevertheless, it is not able to properly care for its weak and underprivileged. State social workers routinely direct the needy to charity NGOs. The centralized government has no way to know who really needs help and who has learned to cynically take advantage of the system. As a result, over half of Israel's social security budget is allocated to Israel's Arab population - which is working and living well - while truly needy people are forced to turn to charity organizations.

Israel must re-invent itself as a community-based country. It must encourage the formation of small communities, allowing them to retain a large portion of the local taxes collected from its members. If that were the case, we could be sure that the local needy would not be abandoned; their problem would become the community's problem and responsibility - not the state's.

Those people who have had the privilege to live in active communities, like the settlers, for instance, know just how well the community model works. When a person in the community hits a tough spot, the neighbors know and enter the picture with genuine care. Together with their local leadership, they find the ways to help.

Welfare is the first responsibility that must be returned to the community. But it is certainly not the last. In principle, the only responsibilities of the state are security, justice and national infrastructure. "The king makes wars and metes out justice," Maimonides writes in The Laws of Kings. Today, the state does just the opposite. It interferes in virtually every aspect of the citizens' lives while ignoring its main responsibilities - security and justice.

The community is the missing link between the individual family and the state. We must urgently rehabilitate it. It should be the privilege and right of every citizen of Israel.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leftist Witch Hunt against Haredim

By Moshe Feiglin

Editor's note: Israel has been in an uproar this week over the Supreme Court ruling forcing Ashkenazi parents to send their daughters to (a private) school track where they will be in classes with Sephardic girls. The parents refuse to do so, and the court ruled that they must be jailed. The issue is being framed by the media as racism and antagonism is running high. Moshe Feiglin has a completely different view:

The demonization campaign against the Haredim is pre-meditated - no doubt about it. Suddenly, everyone is very concerned over what subjects the Haredim are teaching their students. Suddenly the leftist, secular, Ashkenazi elites wake up and bemoan the small numbers of Sephardic girls in the Chassidic schools.

It is not too difficult to figure out where the source of this ugly wave of anti-Semitism hides. Those people who have everything to gain from the "secular" name-brand are Tzippy Livni and media-personality and aspiring politician Yair Lapid. The politics of hate are very effective. Ehud Barak waged an anti-Haredi campaign and became prime minister. Tommy Lapid won an amazing election victory with anti-Semitic tactics, Tzippy Livni also won over incited voters in the last elections and Tommy's son, Yair wants a piece of the action, as well.

The promotional firms and their well-funded clients are cooking up a political big-bang for the Israeli public. Recent history has proven that when Israeli society moves Right, hatred for the settlers does not bring in the votes. So who will be the bad guy? Which witch will the raging mob learn to hate and hunt down? Who else but the Haredim?

The problem in Emanuel is not Ashkenazi discrimination against Sephardic Jews. 30% of the students in the school in question are Sephardic. The real question in this case is: Who determines what education our children will receive - the parents, who ostensibly have the right to educate their children according to their beliefs, or the State and its justice system?

Manhigut Yehudit has always been an egalitarian movement that does not differentiate between Ashkenazic or Sephardic, observant or non-observant Jews. But this open approach must be a product of free choice and not of coercion. We believe that schools should unconditionally accept all children who would like to learn. But we can certainly honor the desire of parents who, in this age of permissiveness and rebelliousness, choose to keep their children in a more closed learning environment.

In Israel today, the Education Minister is the supreme authority over our children's education and can expropriate the parents' rights to determine the type of education they want for their children. This abnormal reality creates distortions, such as the attempt to force parents to send their daughters to an educational track that does not meet their educational/spiritual standards under the threat of fines and imprisonment.

There are thousands of children who illegally do not attend school in Israel. Some of them even illegally work for their parents, or work with their active consent. But these children are mostly Bedouin or Arabs, so no public storm clouds will burst over the issue and the "rule of law" will not have its way. But when the parents in question are Haredi and are doing their utmost so that their daughters attend school, the court will not hesitate to show them who is the boss. The media will accuse the parents of racism, the war drums will beat and the public atmosphere will become hateful and closed-minded.

Essentially, we are all in the same boat. The Supreme Court, which has nowhere near 30% representation of Sephardic Jews on its lofty bench, should not be allowed to force its values on the parents of Emanuel. Manhigut Yehudit is not in favor of segregation, but we are totally opposed to coercion of values in any realm - and certainly in the all-important educational realm.

The educational "seminar in jail" that the Supreme Court has imposed upon the Emanuel parents for their refusal to send their daughters back to school is reminiscent of the "educational seminar" to which the Jews opposed to the Expulsion from Gush Katif were treated by the courts. Now, when the media is hunting down witches and the flames of hatred are being fanned high, we must stand united with the Haredi public. This struggle is the struggle of every Jew who cares about individual liberties and the Jewish nature of this country.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alone Again, Naturally

By Moshe Feiglin

14.And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: So said your brother Israel :
17. We will pass through your land, we will not pass through the field or the vineyard and we will not drink the waters of the well. We will walk on the main road, we will not veer right nor left until we pass your borders.
18. And Edom said to him: You shall not pass through me, or I will come out with a sword to greet you.
19. And the Children of Israel said: We will traverse on the main highway and if we or our herds drink your water we will pay its price. It is no matter, we will just pass through on our feet.
20. And he said: You will not pass through. And Edom came out to meet them with a horde of people and a strong arm.
21. And Edom refused to allow Israel to pass through its borders, and Israel turned away from there.
(From this week's Torah portion, Chukat, Numbers 20)

21. And Israel sent messengers to Sihon the king of the Amorites, saying:
22. I will pass through your land, we will not turn into the fields or the vineyards and we will not drink the waters of the well. On the main highway we will walk until we pass through your borders.
23. And Sihon did not allow Israel to pass through his borders and Sihon gathered all his nation and he went out to the desert to meet Israel and he came to Yahatz and he fought against Israel.
(Numbers 21)

The entire world vs. Israel. Suddenly, we were completely alone. What happened? Why did they blacklist us? After all, the Israelites were offering the two kings a business opportunity that doesn't come up every day. They were even willing to buy their water. Why threaten war?

It is all because of Amalek. Some nations of the world are better and some are worse. For the most part, they are a mixture of good and bad. They acknowledge that G-d is King of the world while simultaneously rebelling against Him. Take England, for example. England was the first European country to expel the Jews from its land and the first to require them to attach a yellow badge to their clothing. It is also the breeding ground of Nazi racist philosophy (Houston Chamberlain). On the other hand, England is home to Zionist/Biblical romanticism, the Balfour Declaration and Orde Wingate. England also laid the physical foundation for the nascent Jewish state.

When the nations saw the miracles that G-d performed for Israel in Egypt, they remembered the King of the world and honored the children whom He chose to testify to His existence. Until Amalek came along and jumped into the boiling bathtub. Although he got burned, he cooled the water. Now the rest of the nations realized that it was possible to fight against Israel just as they would fight against any other nation. The magical aura had burst. Natural fear of G-d dissipated and in its place came anti-Semitism, pure and simple. If not for Amalek, the Edomites and Amorites would have been honored to allow Israel to pass through their territory.

Then as now, when the current Amalek announced his intention to destroy Israel, he got slightly burned. But the Israeli magical aura burst. The existence of the Nation of Israel is no longer a given and on the surface, it has no special connection to G-d to protect it. That is the point when all the nations of the world reject us. Their anti-Semitic nature surfaces and we are left "a nation that dwells alone."

When we will open our hearts and souls to make G-d our King, the next part of the verse will also come true: "And it does not reckon with the nations".

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

There is Still Hope

Last week I spoke at the Haifa's Technion University before a large group of Technion graduates.
During the question and answer session after my lecture, two people asking questions defined themselves as atheists. They wanted to know how they would fit into the Jewish State that I dream of. An interesting discussion followed. I explained that there are more than a few people in Manhigut Yehudit who define themselves as "secular" and I even know a few Manhigut members who define themselves as atheists. Paradoxically, the only place where they can live according to their (lack of) faith is in the Jewish state that we propose - because the State of Israel that disassociated from its roots is in an advanced state of collapse.

The leaders of all of Israel's major parties have been sucked into the black hole of the ideological vacuum known as Israel's "center" and are incapable of dealing with this process of collapse. In the state of "Palestine" that will inherit us there will be no room for "infidels" - or for atheists.

After I assured the audience that in a genuinely Jewish state, as opposed to the Big Brother state that we have today, the loftiest value is liberty - and first and foremost freedom of thought, including the freedom to deny one's faith - I wanted to know to what extent these two "atheists" represented the views of the audience. "I would like to ask you a question," I turned to the elite of Israel's young intelligentsia. "Please raise your hand if you believe in G-d." There were not many kippah wearing members of the audience, but the sea of hands raised high in the air was the irrefutable evidence I was looking for.

Despite the collapse of Israel's current leadership, Israel's society is strong. It is just a matter of time until it rejects the current corrupt leadership in disgust and turns to the Jewish leadership alternative. Manhigut Yehudit will be there when that happens.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Jewish Leadership Alternative to Flotillas and other Threats

By Moshe Feiglin

Israel is in acute distress. The bulwarks upon which we have predicated our security - America, Western Europe, the IDF - are all melting away. Even our mythological navy commando has been humiliated in a live broadcast. Slowly but surely, reality as we know it is changing its face. The ground is rumbling under our feet.

I look at all the good Jews demonstrating for Israel and my heart goes out to them. They feel that they are right, but cannot explain why. They have nothing more to lean on than Israel's explanations that exchange "justness" for humaneness. After all, we bent over backwards to be humane in Gaza. We even expelled our own brothers from there. So why is the entire world against us?

The protestors of the Left, on the other hand, have an apparently moral claim: Israel conquered a land that is not hers, they assert. Israel's right wing is offering nothing more than healthy emotions. If it cannot counter the Left's claims with solid moral reasoning, its protests will dissipate and the Left will once again sweep Israel from one defeat to the next.

Marmara is the Exodus of the terrorists. International law supported the British army - not the ma'apilim, the "illegal" Jewish immigrants during the British Mandate. But the British were defeated because the world felt that the Jews were right. Today, the same game is being played out, but we are the side enforcing the blockade.

We claim that we need the blockade because they are shooting; they claim that they are shooting because of the blockade. There is one simple question that determines who is right: Whose land is this, anyway? When Israel recognized the "legitimate claims" of the Palestinians on this Land and even retreated from parts of it, it lost the moral high ground from which to claim the remaining parts of the Land. We did not receive international recognition in exchange for our "good will," but rather more international pressure, more isolation, more demonization and a new type of war that we cannot win, because we have lost our sense of justice.

Last week's fiasco on the high seas is just one more stage in the disintegration that Israel's leaders have no idea how to stop. What will we do when the next flotilla will include war ships from Turkey, or Britain or even the USA (as soon as the elections for Congress are finished)? Ultimately, the blockade will be forced open because from the corner into which we have backed ourselves -denial that Gaza is part and parcel of our Land - the Arabs are simply right.

We have two alternatives. We can come to terms with the "Palestinian" narrative, as the leftist demonstrators would have us do, wave a white flag of surrender and enter negotiations with the hopes of being granted the status of
dhimmi in the new Palestine. The other alternative is to revolutionize Israel's basic values, rebuild our national ethos on Jewish foundations, return to our Jewish sense of justice and re-invent ourselves as proud Jews in the Jewish Land.

Let us imagine an Israeli prime minister who was elected on the basis of our Jewish values: "The Nation of Israel has returned to its Land after 2000 years of exile as per Divine directive," he would explain. "We do not wish to harm those non-Jews who are currently in the Land of Israel. We will honor all their human rights if they choose to fully recognize and respect the Jewish State. In addition, we will be happy to help those Arabs who prefer to pursue their national aspirations in any other country in the world. To that end, we have established an international fund to solve the problem of the refugees in Gaza. We have allocated five billion shekels for this project, with two billion shekels to be allocated to the fund annually. The fund will provide generous aid to any Arab who will sell his possessions in Israel and emigrate with his family to any other destination in the world. An Arab who chooses to remain in Israel and remain hostile to the Jewish Nation will be regarded as an enemy of the Jewish State and will be dealt with accordingly."

Does Israel have the money for this proposal? Absolutely. We spent much more on the Expulsion of the Jews from the Gaza area. Would the Arabs agree to leave? According to statistics publicized over the last years, approximately 70% of the residents of Gaza would be happy to leave. A budget of five billion shekels would convince the heads of many extended families to leave and provide an enticing example for all the rest. Photos of Arab families enjoying their new lives abroad would spark the imaginations of their Gaza brethren. A hot debate would develop in Arab society for and against the emigration. The terror organizations would fight against those who chose to leave and forget all about the Jews. No incentive to kidnap soldiers, to launch "freedom flotillas" or to use other methods and ploys to challenge Israel's sovereignty.

Only leadership that has a clear ideological platform and solutions for Israel's existential problems will inspire the nation to follow its lead. Manhigut Yehudit is offering just such leadership. We are confident that ultimately, Israel will make the right choices.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Moshe Feiglin Draws Large Crowd at Technion University

The audience that crowded the Canada Hall in Haifai's Technion University belonged to the prestigious club of Technion graduates, replete with their prestigious degrees. They meet periodically to hear speakers from all facets of society. The title of Moshe Feiglin's lecture, "Who's afraid of Moshe Feiglin?" piqued the interest of the Technion's students and the turnout was much larger than usual. The evening was a great success, with a lengthy question and answer session afterwards. Clearly, the general public represented by this forum is open to the ideas of Manhigut Yehudit. It is particularly in times of crisis that the longing for new leadership that gets to the root of the problem becomes much more pronounced.

Now more than ever, it is important to arrange Manhigut Yehudit events for the general public. To arrange a meeting in your area, please contact Dovid Shirel (Israel) 02 996 1123 (US) 516 620 2475

I Rule or G-d Rules?

By Moshe Feiglin

Is it not enough that you have brought us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that you also want to rule over us? (Datan and Aviram demanding justice - This week's Torah portion, Korach, Numbers 16:13)

It is clear that the Dynamic Duo, Datan and Aviram, are actually highlighting their own faults in the verse above. They call the death camps that they had just left in Egypt a "land flowing with milk and honey," making it clear that in the rest of the verse they are also not speaking the truth. In other words, they have an ulterior motive - in this case, power.

The drive for power is not necessarily understood by people who are not in leadership positions. It is commonly believed that the strongest human drives are survival and propagation of the human race. But the urge to rule supersedes all others. Kings murder their sons, sons murder their fathers - the drive for power is difficult to comprehend.

"How is it that the leaders of the Right always change their minds when they come into power?" the betrayed voters ask themselves time and again. The answer is that they change their policies so that they can remain in power. Do they care about themselves more than their Homeland? Not at all. They simply believe that if they remain loyal to the Land of Israel and lose their jobs, somebody worse than them will replace them. In this manner, the fine line between personal and international integrity is blurred. In their minds, they are not power hungry, but simply acting in the nation's best interests.

The strongest form of government is an interim government. An interim government cannot be overruled and voted out (because it has already finished its job). It cannot be pressured. The world always waits for Israel's interim governments to finish their term before renewing its pressure on the newly elected government. Why? Doesn't a short-term prime minister have national interests that can be threatened?

Not really. What really pressures prime ministers is a threat to their power. The prime minister that has already lost his power does not buckle under outside pressure.

True Jewish leadership takes responsibility. It conquers the drive for power. And that is no simple task. According to Maimonides, a king must bow every time he says the
Amidah prayer in order to break his heart. A Jewish leader who governs with Jewish values is humble before G-d. This humility before the Creator, so sorely lacking in Israeli politics today, bolsters him against all the pressure in the world.

Shabbat Shalom

Manhigut Yehudit joins the entire Nation of Israel in mourning the passing of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, of saintly and blessed memory. He will be sorely missed by all lovers of Torah, the Land of Israel and the People of Israel. May we be comforted in the building of Zion and Jerusalem. Click here for more on Rabbi Eliyahu.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Leader for Israel's Future

By Shlomo Vile

One of the most common misperceptions of Moshe Feiglin is that he’s a right-wing politician. The media is accustomed to calling him an "extreme" right-wing politician. In truth, however, Moshe Feiglin’s policies transcend the typical left-right dichotomy that divides Israeli politics. Moshe is first and foremost Jewish, and just as the Torah itself is neither left or right, so too, Moshe Feiglin is neither left nor right.

I’d like to illustrate this point by summarizing Moshe Feiglin’s views in five key areas that are not at all typical for a "right-wing" Israeli politician.

1) The Arab-Israeli conflict and the "search for peace" are not a main focus of Manhigut Yehudit. Feiglin is much more focused on how to build Israel as a Jewish state than he is on how to deal with or make peace with the Arabs. As he constantly reiterates, peace with the Arabs will be a positive side-effect of making Israel more Jewish, but it’s the Jewishness of Israel that is the main goal, not peace with the Arabs.

2) Jewish education, in Moshe Feiglin’s view, is a much more important issue that the Arab-Israeli conflict and should be absorbing much more of Israel's time and attention. In his view, providing a basic Jewish education to every Jew in Israel is an existential issue. Without it, Israel cannot continue.

3) Israel’s foreign policy should be guided by Jewish morality. Israel should be a "light unto the nations." We brought morality to the world and the Jewish state should lead the world in this area. For example, Feiglin came out strongly against Israel’s participation in the Chinese Olympic games in light of the overwhelming evidence that China was harvesting organs from prisoners, including political prisoners. Our moral compass is the Torah, which is an inseparable part of us and our Jewish identity. Israel’s reluctance to provide moral leadership on issues like Chinese organ harvesting is a symptom of the deeper problem – Israel’s reluctance to embrace its own Jewish identity.

4) Israel’s state-run welfare should be replaced - where appropriate - with community managed welfare based on Jewish values. According to the Torah, all Jews are responsible one for another. The Jewish State should be encouraging this natural Jewish sense of mutual responsibility through community-based responses to the welfare needs of its citizens. Instead, Israel has built a bureaucratic state welfare system that discourages the expression of this basic and positive Jewish value.

5) We should be model environmentalists, not just to protect "Mother Earth," but as a concrete expression of our Jewish identity. The people of Israel and the Land of Israel are one. Our Jewish environmentalism should flow naturally from our love for and sense of connection to our land. How could we pollute or destroy that which we feel to be part of us? Furthermore, this intimate sense of connection to our land that motivates us to harmonize our relationship with that land should in turn lead the Jewish state to play a leading role in the global environmental movement. The "greening" of Israel through the loving care of its native people should be the model for all of humanity to reconnect to and nurture the soil from which all life sprouts. Our "back-to-the-land" journey should be the trail that all humanity seeks to follow.

There is a common thread to all these issues - nurturing Israel’s Jewish identity. According to Feiglin, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the "quest for peace" are a huge distraction from this key task which should be the main focus of Israel’s energies.

In order to be successful, the unconventional political movement of Manhigut Yehudit faces two big challenges but offers two great opportunities.

The first challenge is that the mass media constantly characterizes Moshe Feiglin as an "extreme right-winger."

The second challenge is that even when we get past the media caricature, read the Manhigut Yehudit program with an open mind and agree with it, there’s an impression that "the powers-that-be" will never allow Feiglin to be elected. To counter that, you have to bear in mind the fact that Moshe Feiglin has already succeeded in becoming the only political challenge that the existing Israeli power structure takes seriously. That he’s accomplished so much without any of the official political titles or positions should make it even clearer that he’s the leader we need to follow.

Lined up against these challenges are two tremendous opportunities. The first is that when enough people read the Manhigut Yehudit plan and support Feiglin based on the conviction that he is right, we will finally have a leader in Israel with the power to transcend and start healing the right-left/ secular-religious polarities that currently divide the Jewish state.

Secondly, when we finally have a truly Jewish state, we will bring the whole world closer to its fulfillment at well. G-d gave us a role to play, not just to have another country, but to lead the world towards that bright future that we call the age of Moshiach. By strengthening Israel’s Jewish identity, we will make huge strides towards fulfilling the role that G-d and the rest of world expect of us.

Bernie Quigley on Moshe Feiglin on The Hill: What is a Jewish State?

What is a Jewish state?
By Bernie Quigley - 06/01/10 09:32 AM ET

My recent
Pundits Blog essays on Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) as a rising political phenomenon in Israel have brought much interesting mail and commentary. To the neurosis that has crippled forward progress in an Americanized Israel at least since 1993, highlighted now by the Gaza incident, a singular soldier with a moral compass like Feiglin’s brings clarity. He calls for Israel to be a religious state: "a Jewish state" instead of "a state for Jews."

A writer in the online World of Judaica, citing one of my blog essays, wrote, "The Jewish people are moving from a collective consciousness of ‘we must be accepted by the nations,’ to ‘we are actually separate from the nations.’ This is already happening, slowly, but the tipping point will be reached soon, and when it does, I predict an avalanche of Jewish national catharsis will be released in a huge wave."

Commentator "Kat" says of my last week’s essay, titled, "Israel as a Jewish State": "No state should be a religious state. The very concept is absurd."

But I received a letter from Maury in New York, who writes:

"Kat and others who assume that Judaism is simply a religious belief and its practices are making a huge mistake. Judaism, besides being a religion, is a philosophy and a way of life which formed and have sustained the Jewish People for over 3000 years.

"I think the analogy with England as a Protestant state is not a correct one. Judaism, in the sense of an ethno-religious culture, is the national religion for all Jews. Israel, to survive, must maintain its own unique culture (Jewish), just as the English and the French have theirs.

"The majority of Israel's Jewish population identify themselves first and foremost as Jews. Manhigut Yehudit's advocacy for a ‘Jewish state’ simply reflects this traditional perspective. We are talking about policies like Jewish education that will ensure Israel remains a Jewish state; like unbiased media that reflect Jewish values and morals; like a fair justice system based on Jewish values; like making empowerment of the traditional family a national priority; like decentralizing government and strengthening the private economy; like more liberty for citizens; like encouraging community responsibility for the welfare of its residents and individual responsibility of one Jew for another; and fighting evil instead of compromising with it.

"We are advocating for principles - rooted in the Biblical representation of responsibility, kindness, and goodness - that have guided the progress of Western civilizations, including the U.S., for millennia. If the State of Israel will return proudly to its Jewish roots, it can and will be what the Prophets called a Light to the Nations. The Jewish People want this and the world needs and deserves it."

This is my thought: In the 1800s, when my family was still in Ireland, the Irish, the Catholic Church and the earth were one. There are many good things about being an American - Randy Moss, the iPad, "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer," Red Neck Lawn Mower Racing - but that sanga has been broken here. I am not sure people can survive without it or if it is worth surviving without it. So the bringing together of Temple, Jews and earth again as one in Israel is most auspicious, if not miraculous.

More on the Flotilla Fiasco

By Moshe Feiglin

Be sure to read Moshe Feiglin's article on the flotilla, The Gaza Flotilla and the Gallant Rapist, written on 18 Sivan, May 31.

Navy commandos with paint ball rifles. This is the symbol of the Israeli madness.
Alex from the Carmel 17:07 31/05/10
A fighter from one of the best elite units in the world with a paint rifle descending from a helicopter into a Moslem mob. That's it. We have finally gone crazy.
(Talkback to Moshe Feiglin's article, The Gaza Flotilla and the Gallant Rapist on NRG)

Alex is right. It is hard to think of a more accurate symbol of the madness that grips us. The most elite unit of the best army, humiliated by a ragged mob on the high seas.

After 2,000 years in which our fate was in the hands of foreigners, we returned to our Homeland and formed the best army in the world, with the best commando units in the world, with the best weapons in the world – just to find ourselves once again at the starting point; helpless, with our backs against the wall. We are incapable of dealing with the Iranian threat. We are incapable of dealing with the threat from Gaza. We are not even capable of dealing with a civilian ship.

PM Netanyahu adopted the principle of "Bushehr in exchange for Yitzhar." In other words, Israel must pay in the currency of its Homeland in order to merit its right to defend itself. In practice, Netanyahu is paying with the Yitzhar currency (building freeze in all Judea and Samaria), in the currency of Jerusalem and soon, in the currency of Dimonah (Obama is pressuring for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East). Netanyahu is making all these payments – not so that he will have the "right" to attack in Iran – nobody dares think about that anymore. He is making these payments to simply survive politically, hoping all the while that at one stage or another, others will do the work for us in Iran.

"When you will be a Navy commando," I said to my son this morning, "and they will arm you with a toy rifle, don't set out on your mission. Return the rifle, go to prison, let them expel you from the most elite unit – but do not agree to such a humiliation of the army. We did not send you to the army to needlessly endanger your life, to humiliate yourself, to humiliate the IDF and to humiliate the State of Israel."

The problem, once again, is that Israel's current leaders, in mad flight from their Jewish identity, cannot define the goal for which we are fighting. The flotilla fiasco is just another symptom of this fundamental problem:

The following is excerpted from the article I wrote highlighting this problem during Operation Cast Lead, called
The Disengagement War:

If Israel cannot define a real goal for this war, it cannot win. All the IDF's professionalism and the arduous training with which the new Chief of Staff has equipped the army are ineffective if Israel's leaders cannot define the goal of the fighting. He who cannot define the goal cannot win. And if you can't win - it is best not to start fighting. And if you have started fighting nevertheless, you quickly find yourself entrenched in the heart of Gaza in the worst of all positions: You can't win; if you retreat you admit another defeat and a stalemate turns your soldiers into easy targets for kidnappers, suicide bombers and hate-filled murderers.
Read entire article.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Connecting Heaven and Earth

Illustration: Temple Institute

By Moshe Feiglin

Our Sages consider the Sin of the Spies even worse than the Sin of the Golden Calf. What is the root cause of the sin of rejection of the Land of Israel? What is so terrible about "We will make a new leader and return to Egypt?" At the time of the sin, as Rashi explains, the spies were righteous Jews who had just experienced the myriad miracles of the Exodus from Egypt and the journey through the desert. Did they really believe that G-d could not humble the lowly Canaanites as He had the mighty Egyptian empire? How could they so severely miss the mark?

There is a difference between the Exodus from Egypt and the entry into the Land of Israel. The entry into the Land of Israel brings with it an entirely new reality. G-d took care of Pharaoh by Himself: "G-d will fight for you and you, remain silent," G-d told the Israelites at the edge of the Red Sea. But for the Canaanites, the approach is different: Both the Israelites and G-d will be in the fight.

As soon as the Jewish People enters the Land of Israel, the manna stops falling from the heavens. In the Land of Israel, we must plow, plant and harvest. We must live a life of action and bring the manna down from heaven by ourselves – in full cooperation with the Creator. That is the message of the Jewish Nation. It is a message that cannot be applied without the Land of Israel. It is the message of perfection of the world – in the Kingdom of the Almighty.

The Sin of the Golden Calf, although totally unacceptable, was easier to rectify. The Israelites were punished, repented and returned to G-d. The Sin of the Spies is much more difficult to eradicate and rectify. It is not a tactical sin but a rejection of the entire purpose of the Jewish Nation. It is a strategic sin – a strategic error of cosmic proportions. It is a lack of understanding of the goal of the journey, the loss of the purpose for our very existence.

The resolution of the conflict between the material and spiritual has tormented humanity from time immemorial. The Western approach is to nullify the material in order to be holy. The Moslem approach is to wallow in the material in order to be holy. On the Festival of Tabernacles, the 70 nations of the world bring their holiday offerings to the House of G-d in Jerusalem. But there is one offering that only Israel can bring. It is the
shlamim (wholeness) offering. Half of it is to be eaten by the people and half is for G-d. It is the offering that is irrelevant to a non-Jewish reality. The secret of the unification between the holy and the mundane was given to Israel alone.

There is only one way to resolve the conflict between the spiritual and the mundane. Only when the Jewish Nation lives in the unique Land chosen for it by the Master of the Universe and crowns the spiritual G-d over the material world at their fusion point – in Jerusalem, at the Royal Palace, the Holy Temple – will the world live in peace and serenity.

By attempting to return to Egypt, the Israelites effectively sent the entire world into a helter-skelter tailspin. No wonder that the consequences of that ill-conceived error are still plaguing us today.

The Sin of the Spies smolders in all sectors of Jewish society throughout the generations. It infects every person who excludes himself or G-d from even one aspect of our holistic reality. It infects those who cling to G-d to the exclusion of the Land of Israel and those who cling to the Land of Israel to the exclusion of G-d. It infects the person who studies Torah but does not work, the person who does not study Torah and only works, the person who does not settle the Land, the person who strictly settles the Land, the person disassociated from politics, the person who deals only with politics; any attachment to partial reality conceals within it a touch of the Sin of the Spies.

The solution is to open ourselves to the entire spectrum of our reality - and to perfect the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty.

Shabbat Shalom

The best of times, the worst of times

By Moshe Feiglin

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way -
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Dickens was writing about the French Revolution, but he could just as well have been writing about Israel today. Indeed, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.
Israel's economy is flourishing. Our currency is stable, our national debt is low and our GNP is among the highest in the world. Who knows? What with the collapse of Europe's economies and the upside-down Obama economics, we may yet see the wealth of the world migrate to the safe economic haven of Netanyahu and Stanley Fischer.

True, the economic crisis in Europe will impact on our exports, but Israel is a small, strong and dynamic economy. We will increase our exports to the east and more Israeli products will stay inside the Israeli market. We will overcome this crisis, and if we will re-frame our economy on the right Jewish cultural/social plane, we will emerge from it even stronger than before.

And there is more good news. The hi-tech and R&D centers of the world understand that without Israeli know-how, they will be left in the dust. Israel's medical and pharmacological advances, our sophisticated weapons, our cows that produce the highest national milk yield in the world, our world-class wines that are giving the French a run for their money - we have good reason to be proud of our accomplishments. And the icing on the cake: This year, with G-d's help, there will be more Jews in Israel than anywhere else in the world. This is a sea change in the state of the Jewish nation and the first time since the First Temple era that the majority of Jews has resided in Israel. This summer we start the countdown to the end of the exile. The prophets promised and G-d is making it happen. Truly the best of times.

Unfortunately, though, it is also the worst of times. Anti-Semitism is exploding all over the world. The State of Israel is rapidly losing the legitimacy for its very existence. Recently, British police searched a London hotel after receiving a tip that Tzippy Livni was there. Simply put, our successful state has turned into a pirate ship; it is fine for other states to plan its destruction, and they will even remain members of the UN in the process. Ahmadinijad can fly wherever he wants, while Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon dares not land in Europe. It is now fashionable in academia to talk about the day after the destruction of the State of Israel.

De-legitimization always precedes the
coup de grace; Der Sturmer always precedes Auschwitz. Destruction has two sides; the actual perpetrator and the side that does not afford refuge to the victims and does not bomb the death camps. Obama will not lose any sleep on the day after. Let us not delude ourselves. We were supposed to have learned something from our history, but the ominous pictures of the 1930s keep popping up on our screens.

So is it the best of times or is it the worst of times?

Every time that Israel enjoys unbounded success, it manages to make the worst of the situation. At the end of the War of Independence in 1948, the IDF was about to liberate Judea and Samaria. The Palmach insisted that they would not stop until they reached the antennas of Ramallah, the IDF was already in Sinai and if the retreat orders had not been given, the Old City of Jerusalem would have been liberated then. In other words, there would have been no "green line," no "occupied territories" and nobody would ever have heard of "illegal settlers." But Israel retreated.

In an act that planted a ticking time-bomb in the outcome of the Six Day War, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan gave the keys to the Temple Mount to the Moslem
wakf at the end of the war and sent soldiers with flowers to the Jordanian border to convince the Arabs fleeing Kalkilya to return to their homes.

After the First Lebanon War, the PLO leadership was exiled to Tunisia and was practically defunct. The PLO in Tunisia supported Sadaam Hussein and became a world pariah. Arafat was banned from entering the US. The PLO could no longer pay the salaries of its aging soldiers and was on the verge of total collapse. Terror in Israel was almost non-existent. No fences, no Kassams, no road blocks, no guards at the entrance to every café. And then Peres and Beilin brought Arafat and his fellow terrorists to Israel. They armed them with Israeli weapons and made sure that they received money and international recognition. They imposed the PLO regime of terror upon the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza - and the rest is history. Today, the world sees the Arabs as the rightful owners of this Land, and the Jews as the invaders.

I was in the US on 9/11. The Americans saw the pictures of the celebrations in Shechem and Ramallah. George Bush was president. Sharon had a free hand to restore Israel's security. But instead, he destroyed Gush Katif.

Today, Israel is stronger than ever, with impressive achievements behind us. But once again, we are positioned to make the worst out of this situation. What will Israel's leaders choose? Is it the best of times, or the very worst?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Gaza Flotilla and the Gallant Rapist

By Moshe Feiglin

Do you remember the gallant rapist? The criminal who would offer his victims a ride home after the rape? He apparently thought that his "good manners" would make his crime seem less reprehensible. In the end he was apprehended and sentenced like all the other rapists.

Today, Israel is the gallant rapist. We declared to the entire world that Gaza is not ours, but theirs. The world was not particularly convinced, so we expelled all the Jews from Gush Katif in Gaza and destroyed their homes. We even dug up their dead for reburial "inside Israel." Let there be no mistake, dear world, Gaza is not ours. Look, we have even retreated from there - with sensitivity and determination, of course.

Now, the world is convinced. Gaza is really not ours. But just a minute: If Gaza is not really yours, why are you blockading it from the sea and the air, allowing entry only from your territory following your security checks? What are you trying to do? To gallantly rape the "Palestinians" and convince us that they consent?

If Gaza is yours - stay there and fight! If it is not yours, get out of there and do not interfere in their lives! You can't do both. You can't simultaneously rape and be well-mannered. Oh, you say that they are trying to smuggle weapons into Gaza? Well, what's the problem with that? Who are you to tell them what to bring into their territory? Aren't you constantly arming yourselves as you please? If the state of Gaza will declare war on you, then defend yourselves. But don't tell us that you left while you are still ruling there by remote control. What right do you have to prevent them from building their own army?

What? They actually did start a war and they are constantly shooting at you? OK, then re-conquer Gaza and administer a military government, like the Allies did in Germany. What? That's impossible because you convinced your citizens that it is good to disengage from Gaza? Hmmm.

We tried to fool the world, and first and foremost- ourselves. Now the entire house of cards is collapsing on our heads. The question is not who is more well mannered, us or them. The question is not how much violence was used to stop the flotilla. The question is who is the rapist. The question is who is just, who is the good-guy and who is the bad-guy in this story. Israel in flight from its identity lost justification for its existence - not just in the Land of Israel but on the face of the entire globe. It maneuvered itself into the position of the most despised nation on earth. Achmadinijad can travel Europe freely. Tzippy Livni and Bogi Ya'alon dare not land there.

If we would have adopted the stance of the just, we could have acted according to the maritime international laws that were determined by Great Britain when it ruled the seas. Call to stop. First shell in front of the ship's nose. Second shell into the ship, and the story is over. But this law is for legitimate ships, not pirate ships, like us. It will not help us to base our justness on good manners. We will always turn out to be rapists in the end. It won't work even if we enlist the most professional soldiers in the world for the mission.

"I don't see Israel as a Jewish state, but rather as a state of all its citizens," said former Chief Justice Aharon Barak, and we lost the most important weapon of all - our sense of justice. The problem is that the other side did not lose its sense of justice. For the Arabs, the Land of Israel is not merely real estate or some sort of security shelter. For them, this Land is holy and they are fighting for it (and rightly so!). But you cannot fight for a land that by your own admission is not yours.

The only option open, then, is self-defense. Even rapists are allowed to defend themselves. And that is how Israel has become the state of roadblocks, barbed wire, security guards at the entrance of every café, iron domes, cement blocks, concertina, atomic detectors and mobile bomb shelters. We outfitted our elite units with tear gas and other ridiculous toys. Now we can explain to the parents of the naval commando how the best fighter in the world was injured by a club to his head.

We have cloaked ourselves in a gown of cement and barbed wire to preserve the lie that Jews can return to their ancient homeland after 2000 years with a false identity: Israeli instead of Jewish. They can forget who they are and the dreams of their ancestors and be just a normal nation - a nation like all the nations. Just like in the Gulf of Mexico, we are trying to bottle up the murky reality that is gushing to our surface with an iron dome. But we cannot cover up for the sense of justice that we have lost.

If we had retained our sense of justice, we would not be waiting for Turkey to expel our ambassador, being portrayed as the guilty rapist along the way. On the contrary, we would have recalled our ambassador from Turkey and expelled its ambassador for its declaration of war on our sovereignty. But we cannot do that, because the Turks are right. After all, we declared that Gaza belongs to the Arabs, didn't we? So what right do we have to blockade a Turkish ship outside our territorial waters?

When, in the last 20 years, have you heard an official Israeli representative - the prime minister, our ambassador to the UN or our Foreign Minister utter the simple words, "This is our land?" You can't remember? That is because it simply didn't happen. Israel is fleeing its Jewish identity and cannot even say this simple sentence.

We must return to our basic sense of justice - the justice that sustained us during our long exile and the only factor that explains why we are not rapists and why this entire Land - including Gaza, is ours and only ours. When we return to that point, we will be able to truly establish our sovereignty in this Land. As long as we continue to attempt to escape our identity, Israel will continue to slowly crumble as it hides behind its barbed wire, road blocks and most advanced defense technology in the world.