Is Feiglin Trustworthy?

Moshe Feiglin and Ben-Tzion Spitz (Credit: Avshalom Levi)
Moshe Feiglin and Ben-Tzion Spitz (Credit: Avshalom Levi)

Zehut’s chairman has come under attack from the entire Israeli political spectrum

It is an axiom that “power corrupts.” The number of individuals in the history of politics that did not let the power of office corrupt their ideological postures is few and far between.

Enter firebrand Moshe Feiglin.

Feiglin came to notoriety shortly after the Oslo Accords by mobilizing thousands of Israeli citizens who successfully brought the country’s traffic to a standstill. The non-violent protestors calmly sat at main intersections around the country. Feiglin and many of his associates went to prison for their efforts. At a relatively young age, Feiglin demonstrated a genius for organization, management, logistical acumen, team-playing and building, community involvement, motivational speaking and principled leadership, as well as accepting the consequences of his actions, including multiple prison stays. Already then, he showed the ability to think outside the box, buck the established political institutions and get things done.

His developing political and strategic instincts told him that at the end of the day, all the protests would accomplish nothing. The only way to change the system would be from within the Knesset. Hence, he joined the Likud, the ruling party, and signed up tens of thousands of new Likud members who supported his efforts. He proved over time to be a real threat to Chairman Netanyahu. His growing popularity led to multiple ministerial offers, if he would just be swayed from his course. Even though it would have meant a life among the privileged political elite, Feiglin turned down every single offer. He would not compromise his ideals. Some would call it political naivete, a lack of flexibility or an inability to compromise. The less cynical know it for the treasured rarity it is: a man of principle.

As a Knesset member, he served as deputy speaker of the Knesset and sat on the important Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, where he learned the inner workings of the Likud, the Knesset and the government. He understood that even within the Likud, he would be unsuccessful. The Likud leadership and party apparatus would not allow Feiglin to move ahead. They used every trick up their sleeve to deter Feiglin. He left, and founded a new party, Zehut. And so, the rising star in the Israeli election was born.

As Zehut has been rising in the polls, so too, the attacks against Feiglin and the party have increased. Zehut has at the same time been accused of being too “right” and too “left”; anti-religious and anti-secular; anti-gay rights and pro-gay rights; a party that will do too much or do too little. Whatever the perceived position or voting public of the attacking party, so has the attack been formulated. Zehut has incredibly managed to be the subject of attack of almost every single serious political party in Israel.

On one hand, the continued attacks have been good for getting Zehut more attention, but they have poisoned the electoral discussion with outright fabrications, lies, misconceptions and half-truths. The mudslinging has obscured Zehut’s well-documented platform to the point that the public discourse and especially some of the social media diatribes have no connection to the reality of what Zehut is, of who Moshe Feiglin is, of who the candidates are and what the Zehut party represents.

I met Moshe Feiglin early in his Likud efforts where I served as a member of Likud’s Central Committee for 12 years. I know him to be a straight shooter; an honorable man who doesn’t know how to say anything that is remotely untrue. He is a man of his word. He is a man of principle like few others I have met in my life. I have met and dealt with many politicians and he is clearly and unusually cut from a different cloth. He has no interest in power. He has no interest in leading a public life. He would much rather mind his own business and let others take on the task of fixing our country. But he had seen that others were not up to the task. He stepped up. He entered the arena. He has suffered for his sense of responsibility, his sense of mission. Yet he carries on, undeterred. He is an honorable man and I am proud and honored to be on his team.

However, the strength of Zehut doesn’t stop with Feiglin. That is just the start. Zehut’s strength is in its platform: a well-documented plan for what the party’s policy is in a variety of governmental issues ranging from education to the economy, from individual rights to the military and all the important challenges that Israel is facing. The Zehut party and the Zehut candidates exist to promote the platform – not the other way around. The few other parties that have quickly cobbled together a platform in the last few weeks have done so for the exclusive purpose of advancing their parties and their pursuit of power.

The Zehut platform is the insurance policy against the feared corruption of Zehut candidates. The Zehut primaries ensure that the candidates are accountable to the voting public and not just to senior party apparatchiks. The platform creates a clear roadmap, clear red lines, clear contours as to what Zehut stands for, what it will never give up on and what is open to discussion.

If Zehut didn’t exist, I wouldn’t vote in this coming election. The existing political parties have consistently failed the Israeli voter. They have failed to protect us, the first basic role of government. They have failed in the education of our children. They restrict our personal liberties in a multiplicity of areas. They have maintained a socialist infrastructure, that shackles the market while gleaning the benefits for themselves and their sponsors. Most of these political parties have had ample opportunity to repair the situation. Their campaign promises are indeed hot air. They will say whatever they think will get them more votes, with no interest or ability to implement once they’re in office.

Zehut is different at the core. From its founding it conceived of a different way. A way that will remain untainted by special interests and protected elites. A way that clearly, unambiguously sets out what it will and won’t do, and how it will go about it. A breath of fresh air in the putrid system of Israeli politics.

I trust Feiglin. I trust Zehut to do what it says it will do. I trust the Zehut candidates to remain true to its platform. I trust them to put the interest of the entire country ahead of narrow sectorial benefits. I trust them to pursue the interests of the Jewish people ahead of their personal agendas. I trust.

I trust, and I have found a party that is worthy of that trust, and of my vote.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and a candidate for the Knesset for the Zehut party. He is the author of three books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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