For the past few weeks, I have seen articles that criticize Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to build a coalition that includes Shomrei Sfarad (Shas), the party that represents the Hareidi community in Israel. While I do agree that Shas is not a party that Netanyahu should look to include his coalition, I am surprised that so little attention has been paid to Moshe Feiglin, a radical on the Likud-Beitanu Knesset Member list.
For the last decade or so, Feiglin has attempted to become a Knesset member and has finally attained his goal. In an interview with the Jewish Press post-Knesset win, Feiglin elaborated on some of his more radical views. In the first part of the interview Feiglin had been asked what his goals were now that he is in the Knesset. Feiglin responded, “I hope to advance the concept of Jewish leadership to the state of Israel – a state that is based on its Jewish identity and not just the concept of survival.” Feiglin later went on to elaborate that he is not in favor of the Two State Solution and that he wants to make the Torah part of Israeli culture.
There are a few problems with Feiglin’s statements. First off, while we do consider Israel the Jewish State, it is wrong to base the identity of Israel solely on a Jewish Identity. The Balfour Declaration clearly stated that the promise of a Jewish State was contingent on the equality of all citizens in the proposed state, regardless of ethnicity, religion or race. This focus on a Jewish Identity in Israel says that the Jews are superior and everyone else is inferior. Doesn’t the Torah say that all men are created in G-d’s image? Saying that the sole identity of Israel should be Jewish, shows a bit of racism in Feiglin’s opinions. The same can be said by making the Torah as part of the culture: I am a Jew and I believe the Torah is the book of G-d. The problem is, not all of the people in Israel are Jewish and by forcing this into the culture, it is making them believe in ideas and concepts that they do not believe in.
Another tissue with Feiglin’s statements is that it eliminates the only available peace strategy for the Middle East. While the Two State Solution still needs a lot of work in order to be a viable solution, saying that you don’t believe in this form of peace throws years of efforts and negotiations down the drain. Though I do want Hebron, Safed, Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount to be in the hands of Israel, the fact is that the Temple Mount isn’t in our possession now. I do agree that all of these holy cities should remain in Israel’s possession but this belief is not a good reason to reject the idea of a Two State Solution it it’s entirety
Similarly, Feiglin was also quoted in this interview in saying “I can definitely say that the slogan ‘Kahane tzadak – Kahane was right’ has proven itself many times.” For those of you who do not know, Rabbi Meir Kahane was the founder of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), and the founder and leader of the Kach (Strength) party. His party was later banned from ever running in an Israeli election because of its extreme racist and radical views. Feiglin is wrong in saying that Kahane was right because unlike what Kahane and apparently what Feiglin believes, there are many Israeli Arabs who support Israel. It is wrong to generalize an entire group of people based on the radicals of said group. We Jews have been targeted by racists and hate mongers for centuries and to ignore that and become like them is morally and ethically wrong as well as hypocritical.
Later in the interview, Feiglin was confronted about a piece he had previously written about the Beit Hamikdash (the Jewish Temple). He had written that the importance of the Beit Hamikdash being the ultimate connection between G-d and the Jews and that we should rebuild it immediately. When asked to clarify this, Feiglin uses the verse in the Torah, that when translated reads “You should make a Sanctuary for Me (G-d) and I will dwell within”. Feiglin interprets this verse as the people of Israel should build it and that it is clear and simple from this verse that the Beit Hamikdash must be built now.
However, that is not the verse where G-d tells the Jews to build the Beit Hamikdash. The verse is “But only to the place that the Eternal your G-d will choose from all your tribes to set His Name there — you shall seek His dwelling place and go there.” (Deut. 12:5). The verse Feiglin makes use of is used in reference to the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The verse that the building of the Beit Hamkidash is actually derived from says that God will choose where it will be built. As we see in Samuel II, G-d also tells Solomon when to build the Beit Hamikdash. So Feiglin, when did G-d tell you that you are now god and you can decide when to build the 3rd Beit Hamikdash?
Another issue that arises is that Feiglin wishes to build the Beit Hamikdash at a time when the Jewish people have so many divisions that cannot work together. The last time I checked, the Tanach never said peoples of Israel, they said nation of Israel. How then can we build a Beit Hamikdash when there are some Jews who view others as inferior to themselves? Or when we have Jews committing heinous crimes against children?
Finally, I would like to remind Feiglin that there were two others with this vision of rebuilding the Beit Hamikdash. The first was Bar Kochba in about 135 CE. He led the last rebellion against Rome and in the aftermath nearly led to the complete annihilation of the Jews. The second was Shabtai Tzvi, who lived in the 1600’s. He had proclaimed himself the Messiah and had a whole group of followers believe him. This was until one day when he was forced to convert to Islam by the Ottoman Sultan, and he fully embraced his new religion. The point I am eluding to is that there is sufficient reason why we wait for the Messiah, the descendant of David, to come and not follow the words of an ordinary man. Stay in a realistic world or don’t run for government.
The full Jewish Press interview with Moshe Feiglin can be found her: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/a-messianic-vision-an-interview-with-likud-mk-moshe-feiglin/2013/02/21/