Food for Thought about the Zehut Party and Moshe Feiglin

Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut Party has been discussed quite a lot, especially recently, and I feel that it would be a public service to point out the core reasons for being very wary of what the messages transmitted by Moshe Feiglin and his Zehut party might mean, and to advise people not to vote for Zehut – therefore, I shall work toward those goals here.

Some of the people whom I have seen supporting the Zehut Party have even given justifications from Halachah (Jewish Law) for their support. Therefore, I will also relate to Jewish Law in certain parts of this essay.

To be absolutely clear, the basic complaints against Moshe Feiglin and Zehut are:

1. Political Chauvinism (in the sense of “undue partiality or attachment to a group or place to which one belongs” – the group being “correctly thinking people,” according to Feiglin’s definition of that), if not outright totalitarian thinking;

2. Abusive, racist attitudes toward innocent Arabs (who clearly fit – even nowadays – the category of “Ger Toshav,” according to the Kesef Mishneh [who is Rav Yosef Karo, composer of the Shulchan Aruch] on the Rambam, Hilchot Avodah Zara 10:6, who states that the Rambam also accepts this – for those of you who wish to relate to the Jewish Law aspects of this).

Complaint #1 certainly seems supported by various statements by Feiglin over the years, including his statements along the lines of “Oslo traitors must be brought to trial,” which he reiterated to me personally in one of his visits to Bet Shemesh as part of his campaigning to gain power within the Likud. This attempt to make political decisions, as naïve and incorrect as the philosophy behind them may be, into something justiciable reeks of totalitarian regimes, and should be a red flag for all moral people to question the wisdom of voting for the Zehut party.

Complaint #2 also certainly seems supported by various statements by Feiglin over the years. One of them was the statement that ‘Kahane was right’ (from his 2013 Jewish Press interview), since, among other things – though Kahane appears never to have made a statement inciting violence against Arabs before it happened – his statements of support for Jews who attacked innocent Arabs (which I personally heard at least once, and I heard several reports of other such incidents) rendered Kahane beyond the pale to all moral people (including Halachic Jews, of course).

Additional support for Complaint #2 derives from the Zehut platform (the options for Arabs of Judea and Samaria given in section 5 [ה] of the “Stages of the [Judea and Samaria] Political Program” [שלבי התכנית המדינית] – which appear on pages 181-182 of the current Hebrew version of the Zehut platform which I have downloaded as a PDF file from the Zehut website).

a. Option #1, with its “emigration package” for Arabs who agree to leave the territories, based upon an overly optimistic estimate of how many Arabs would emigrate if given the chance, is something that could easily degenerate into violence fomented by Jewish extremists desiring to “encourage” Arabs to accept the emigration package. The atmosphere that I have observed in almost all of the Zehut gatherings, leads me to fear that a Zehut government might be quite likely to “turn a blind eye” to such violence “to promote the cause,” and might even discreetly encourage it! Of course, the likelihood is high that Arab extremists would employ their own violence against any Arabs willing to emigrate – though I doubt that a Zehut government would “turn a blind eye” to that violence!

b. Option #2 is simply granting second-class citizenship to Arabs, and even that is “after a period determined by security considerations” – a phrase open to many possible interpretations!

c. Option #3 is a “long term track” subject to all kinds of examination of those Arabs who wish to achieve Israeli citizenship! It appears that this would be possible only for a minute fraction of those Arabs in the annexed territory, which, as we all know, is in direct contradiction to the behavior of democratic countries toward people living in territories that they have conquered (and I use the term “conquer”, since that is what we did in a defensive war for our survival, as we had the right to do!).
Despite the claims of various apologists for Zehut that this is not so, the vast majority of the conquests by democratic countries resulted in citizenship for the residents of the areas conquered. One must relate to the major, large-scale conquests – like the United States conquest of “the Mexican Cession” – rather than to the minor holdings the USA has in the Micronesia area, whose final status has not yet been decided. In Puerto Rico the denizens have been granted US citizenship, and it even appears to be on its way to statehood – so that example does not support the Zehut apologists either!

In closing, I must point out that after encountering many cases of a person who opposes Zehut, or Moshe Feiglin, being called someone who doesn’t “value an authentic Torah government,” and/or other phrases implying that only those who support Feiglin are Torah-true Jews, I must comment that this type of behavior is atrocious, ad hominem attacking of people whom the attackers rarely even know much (or anything) about!

Of course, it is extremely difficult to communicate any facts which dispute the views of “True Believers” to those believers, but I am hopeful that people with open minds will, at the very least, be wary of what the messages transmitted by Moshe Feiglin and his Zehut party might mean, and perhaps reconsider if they were thinking of voting for that party.

About the Author
Catriel Lev, an "unconformist" halachic Jew/poet/philosopher defying standard categorization, born in Baltimore. MD (USA), living in Bet Shemesh, Israel, tries to view the issues without any “normative” biases (of any particular political/philosophical faction). His views are his own, and do not obligate anyone else, and may often be found on his personal blog.
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