Subscribe To our E-Newsletter
Politician of the Far Right Wants to Create a 'True' Jewish State
But when the controversial right-wing politician took to the lectern during a speech last week in University City, he used his remarks to clarify what his political goals and intent actually are; chief among them is his vision for the future of Israel -- making it, at last, a truly "Jewish state."
Feiglin, founder and president of the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of the Likud Party, said that he wants to "return authentic Jewish values to the State of Israel" and, in doing so, create a government based on "basic Jewish concepts, goals [and] ideas."
Feiglin addressed the topic of Israeli leadership during his lecture March 25 in Steinhardt Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus to a crowd of around 100 people. His visit, sponsored by Hillel of Greater Philadelphia and several campus Jewish organizations under its auspices, was touted as a chance to hear "a fresh dynamic voice on the Israeli political scene."
Though Feiglin came in second behind Benjamin Netanyahu in last summer's Likud primary -- garnering about about 24 percent of the vote to Netanyahu's nearly 73 percent -- he is probably still best known for his activism in the mid-1990s, when he first founded and led the Zo Artzeinu ("This Is Our Land") movement in its quest to protest the Oslo accords.
During a reception held immediately prior to his speech, Feiglin's supporters and staff showed two videos to those gathered. The first showed Israeli media coverage of Feiglin during the 2007 primary race. The second was a humorous advertisement for Feiglin's campaign, which jokingly referred to Israeli's environmental program to reuse old things -- its "recycling" of politicians and government leaders, specifically -- and up on the screen came U.S. democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama's campaign message promoting change.
However, the change that Israeli voters are seeking, the video went on to say, isn't from the senator from Illinois, but from a certain 45-year-old Israeli.
Feiglin reported that Manhigut Yehudit continues to grow in supporters, and has become stronger since the last election, making inroads into the traditional Likud following. Though he lost last time around, he said that he intends to run repeatedly until he achieves his ultimate goal -- to become prime minister of Israel.
"I do not want a theocracy," explained the politician, adding that he also doesn't want Israel to become a "halachic state"; he just wants citizens to embrace their "Jewish identity."
Jews have forgotten their roots and their biblical connection to Eretz Yisrael, he stated, and as such, they have lost their historical claim to be on that land. And so the time has come, he noted, to make Israel the true Jewish homeland.
As for the Palestinians who also claim that same land as their own, Feiglin said that "we need to decide who this land belongs to."
"If you think it belongs to the Arabs," he continued, "then you can't kick them out. However, if you think this land belongs to the Jews because God gave it to us, then it is our mission to help the Arabs leave the Israeli territories and find a place to go 'where they are not ticking bombs.' "
Feiglin added that he thinks that the Arabs "should find their future somewhere else in the world."
He then posed a rhetorical question to his audience: Does Israel belong to the Jews or to someone else?
"I believe in God," he went on to explain. "I believe what is written in the Bible ... that Israel belongs to us.
"If we don't have a Jewish state, we won't have a state at all," the politician said bluntly, adding that some polls show that certain Israeli citizens believe that Israel won't even exist 20 years from now. "When we forget our sources, we are forgetting everything."