When Likud Party member Moshe Feiglin spoke at Congregation Poale Zedeck on Thursday, March 19, he made light of how close he just came to winning a seat in the next Israeli Knesset.
“I think I may be in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ for holding a seat in the Knesset for the shortest period of time in the 60-year history of Israel,” he said at the town hall meeting arranged for him.
Likud members elected Feiglin, leader of the ultra-conservative Manhigut Yehudit faction, to the 20th position on the party’s roster for the February general election. That meant if Likud won at least 20 seats in the election, Feiglin was guaranteed a seat in the Knesset.
That lasted all of two days. The party’s Election’s Committee demoted Feiglin to the 36th spot. Since Likud won only 27 seats in the election, Feiglin was out.
On its face, the reshuffling of party positions was meant to move district representatives higher on the party’s list, but many observers believe it was a ploy to help the party appeal to more centrist voters.
At the time, Feiglin chose not to appeal the decision, citing a lack of faith in the court system. “I realized there is just no point in doing so,” he told Ynet News. “I don’t believe in the High Court of Justice.”
Still, Feiglin wants that Knesset seat. He also wants to become leader of Likud and ultimately Prime Minister of Israel.
Feiglin’s platform is controversial because it upsets the status quo. He contends that the Zionists got it all wrong. Their premise that once a Jewish state was created anti-Semitism would end, was wrong. Unless that Jewish state is governed with Jewish values, Feiglin contends anti-Semitism will prevail because the world will not respect the Jewish state.
His rapidly growing popularity in Israel indicates that he has found a theme that rings true to his
Feiglin’s theme is simple back to basics — Jewish values.
“Our enemies do not respect us because the Israeli government does not have Jewish values,” he said. “They respect Jews but not the Israeli government.”
He contends that 20 percent of his followers are atheists.
“They know that the only reason for Israel to exist is that it is a Jewish state,” he said. “A Jewish state must have Jewish values.”
Netanyahu is still in the process of forming the next government. He has a coalition agreement with the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party, but he has also asked President Shimon Peres for his help informing a broad-based coalition with the centrist Kadima Party.
BBC reported Tuesday a coalition ageement with the Labor Party may have been reached.
Feiglin predicts that there will be another election in 10 months.
Likud and Kadima were neck and neck in the Feb. 10 Israeli election. So far Netanyahu has failed to form the necessary coalition government.
Livni resists any coalition between Likud and Kadima, which favors the peace process and the two-state solution. Likud opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Last week, Peres granted Netanyahu a two-week extension, to April 3, to form his government.
Consistent with the Likud position, Feiglin opposes a two-state solution, but he also proposes paying $250,000 to every Palestinian in return for relocating to other countries.
“I could have formed my own party,” he said. “But then I would appear to be a sectarian leader. I want to be a national leader, fighting against Netanyahu and all of his corruption.”
He claims Likud would have won seven additional seats if Netanyahu hadn’t squeezed Feiglin out of the Knesset.
“Netanyahu and his supporters consider me their biggest threat,” Feiglin said.
Manhigut Yehudit and its followers want to transform a state of Jews into a Jewish state, and claim that they are not a religious faction. In fact, 30 percent of Manhigut Yehudit is comprised of secular Jews.
“They understand that the only reason for Israel to exist is as a Jewish state,” Feiglin said.
(Dev Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)