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Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

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"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Feiglin vs Bibi: Lessons to be Learned

On 4 March 1797, the world changed forever. For possibly the first time in history, the ruler of a nation handed over the reins of state to someone else, not because he was unable to fulfill his duties any more, and not because he was coerced, but because a piece of paper said that’s what he should do.

This was the day that George Washington gave over the Presidency of the United States to his successor, John Adams. We take this orderly transition of power for granted nowadays, but it is anything but ordinary. It is human nature for people, when they hold power, to want to retain that power.

On 29 April 2010, the Central Committee of the Likud Party voted to change the party’s constitution in order to allow the postponement of elections for, among other things, the Central Committee of the Likud. According to the Likud constitution, elections for that body are to be held every four years. The current Central Committee, however, has been in office for double that. This, and not the precedent of George Washington, is the norm in politics, and has been throughout history.

A lot has been made about the loss of the opposition within the Likud Party, which was led by Moshe Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit faction. Some have said that if he couldn’t even persuade one third of the Central Committee to vote against the change in the constitution, he will certainly never succeed in rising to the leadership of the Likud Party.

The point these critics are missing is that Feiglin managed to convince nearly a quarter of the Likud Central Committee to vote against their own tenure as committee members. Presented with the option of extending their own power indefinitely, hundreds of committee members chose, instead, to vote according to their principles.

And make no mistake. Principles are what Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut are all about. Feiglin himself could get a Knesset seat any time he wished, if he were willing to back down from his struggle for the leadership of Israel. He could join the ranks of the many and sundry – and mostly irrelevant – small parties, which operate more as lobbies or political action committees than they do as political parties. The Powers That Be in the Likud would be more than happy to buy Feiglin off by giving him and his supporters plum positions within the Likud. So long as he was willing to forego his quest for leadership.

Pragmatism is one of the biggest temptations, particularly in the realm of politics, which is often described as “the art of the possible.” When the State of Israel faces existential threats from without and within, the prospect of patiently working towards a change in the leadership of the nation seems far less attractive than taking immediate action, even if that action won’t bring any long term results.

Feiglin’s method is a mature one. He works for long term results rather than immediate gratification. Maybe that doesn’t seem practical to some. But what’s practical about a tiny Jewish state in a massive Arab sea?

We need to remember as well that elections for party head in the Likud are open to all registered Likud members, and not only the Central Committee. That is where the difference can be made. Everyone who refused to join the Likud because they didn’t want to empower Netanyahu and his cronies is ignoring the long term reality. No small party will push Netanyahu out of power, except possibly into the hands of Labor. The only way to bring the Likud back to the principles for which it was founded is to take it back from the inside. Only in this way will we ever have Jewish Leadership in Israel.

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Blogger john said...

brilliant brilliant brilliant!

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

iDirect elections would be an improvement to the israeli electoral system. As it stands, any body with a following of more than one has a say in the Knesset. , and renewal every four years is only fair. I am concerned about Netanyahu's inability to say no to Obama and the Arabs. Capitulation before the actual talks is crazy (building freeze). Freezing E. jerusalem only emboldens the PA to push harder. I have never seen a country give up territory to win a "peace" with ememies. This is mishagosh! In fact I do not understand why Netanyahu is dealing with the PA at all- they are corrupt and do not even represent their people. Soon Hamas will move in. As for Obama, he is a Jew-hating , Arab cow-towing fool. Why bother sitting down with enemies, who want to destroy the Jewish state, inch by inch, rocket by rocket. Making any agreement right now, under direct pressure from the White House is a ttterrible mistake. Dlurya

1:05 PM  
Blogger John Galt said...

Do you honestly think that Obama will turn over power in 2012, 2016 or thereafter?

America has its first dictator straight from Kenya via Indonesia.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Lady-Light said...

Very, very interesting and astute post.
From what I have read about him, Moseh Feiglin is a man of principles, has no ego in this and is not looking for power, but rather looking to change Israel into the Jewish state it could be.

My husband has been of the mindset that Feiglin would do better to form his own party, but your post sheds a different light on this whole issue.

5:29 PM  
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10:21 PM  
Blogger Ben-Yehudah said...



But perhaps Feiglin's time and energies would be better served if he were an MK. Then Nation Union would stop being a hobby. Even if it continued as a hobby, Feiglin would have a much greater forum as well as the publicity for his ideas, which the mainstream Israeli media certainly does not want the Israeli public to hear.

"One should vote in order to have influence, not to express an opinion." Rav Bar Hayim

Feiglin would have more influence as an MK. Am I wrong?

2:26 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yes, I think you are. What influence do you think National Union has?

Incidentally, "lobby" wasn't a typo. I meant lobby; not hobby. A lobby is a political group which attempts to pressure those in charge to do things the way they want them to. That's the role of the fringe parties in the Knesset. When have fringe parties ever done anything but take bribes to make coalitions and piss people off?

When Sharon was pushing for the eviction of Jews, where did he have his only fight? Did he worry about Moledet? Ichud Leumi? Herut? Bayit Leumi? Whatever other fringe parties were around at the time? No. He had the fight of his life in the Likud. And he lost. He abandoned ship and took his fellow criminals with him to start Kadima.

You saw yourself how the Likud lost 10 seats when Bibi pushed Moshe down the list. What does that tell you about the Israeli public? Does it tell you that they won't flock to the Likud if we can get a foothold there?

I'll tell you one thing. If Manhigut Yehudit ever does leave the Likud, which Moshe hasn't completely ruled out -- he says that the day it's clear that the Likud is no longer a party which can represent the believing public, it will no longer be worthwhile to be there -- I promise you that Moshe will not be joining Lieberman or any other jokers. It'll be others who'll join him.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Ben-Yehudah said...

I misread the word lobby.

You make some good points,...and for the record, I don't know that NU has any influence at all.

Furthermore each Ya'akov Katz has opened his mouth recently, I become increasingly disappointed, to say the least.

I hope he resigns, sothat Uri Bank can take his place.

I spoke personally with Michael Ben Ari the day after the elections, and was impressed, impressed meaning that I fully identified with where he stands. But, so what?

A handful of good people, even many good people in the Kenesseth is meaningless when the System doesn't play by the rules.

Feiglin has first hand experience with this.

I think it's high time we started playing with our own rules.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

And how exactly would that work? Surely you know that right now, any attempt to move this outside of the political framework would alienate even the majority of people on our side.

It's hard to be patient. I know. And it's obnoxious for me to be counseling patience from out in galuth. But I really do think that Moshe knows what he's doing.

If you have a better idea, I'm happy to hear it. But no one seems to have one. Maybe there's a reason for that.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Ben-Yehudah said...

No, I don't think you're being obnoxious.

And, yes, I'm sure you would like to hear my ideas.... So, would I.


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