Today, Moshe Feiglin, the head of the Jewish Leadership faction within the Likud party in Israel, joins Frontpage Magazine. Last August, he placed second, behind Benjamin Netanyahu, in the race for the Likud’s leadership. Feiglin also recently received a letter from the British Home Secretary informing him that he was banned from the United Kingdom.
Rabkin: Moshe Feiglin, thank you for joining me for this interview for Frontpage Magazine.
Feiglin: The pleasure is mine, Dan.
Rabkin: Let's discuss your views on some of Israel’s most pressing issues. To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your rise through the ranks of the Likud?
Feiglin: I first got involved in politics in 1993 when I co-founded the Zo Artzeinu (This Is Our Land) movement to protest the Oslo Accords. In 1998, I went on to co-find the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) movement to lead the State of Israel with authentic Jewish values. We are now part of the Likud and are growing stronger with every day. In 2003, I participated in the Likud primaries for the first time. I ran against two former Israeli Prime Ministers, Netanyahu and (Ariel) Sharon, and got 3%. In the 2006 primaries I got 13% of the votes. In the most recent primaries, held last August, I finished second to Bibi (Netanyahu) with one-fourth of the votes cast.
Rabkin: If the polls are to be believed and the Likud win the next general election, what role do you see yourself playing in that government?
Feiglin: In a nutshell, in Israeli elections you don’t vote for a person, you vote for a party. Based on what share of the vote your party gets, you get a certain number of people from your party’s list in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). I plan on getting a high enough spot on the Likud’s list to get a seat in the Knesset. After you are in the Knesset your spot on the list doesn’t matter.
I am not sure though that I would want to be a Member of Cabinet. I am talking about a revolution in Israel, but if I accept a cabinet position under a leadership that will continue in the same direction, I will end up being a part of the problem instead of part of the solution. So I am not sure at all that I want to be just a Minister, I want to be Prime Minister.
You see Dan, the Likud has the power in Israel – the Likud represents the people. The Likud had a slogan before, “Only the Likud Can!”, and it is true. Only the Likud can build and only the Likud can destroy. Unfortunately, when it is run by the wrong people it destroys. The leaders were good people, don’t get me wrong. Ariel Sharon was a hero and Netanyahu is a talented man. Yet, when you don’t have that Jewish point in your leadership, you are doomed to fail. This has been proven time and time again. Therefore, Israel needs real Jewish leadership and I am ready to provide it.
Rabkin: Are you satisfied with the current leadership in Israel?
Feiglin: Two weeks ago the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, came to a hospital in Ashkelon. He came to visit the Jews of Sderot and Ashkelon that had been wounded by the Qassam, Katyusha, and Grad rockets being fired from Gaza. Do you know what he told them? He said “get used to it”; just like that, “get used to it, I don’t have a solution”. Do you understand the meaning of that? Just 63 years after the gates of Auschwitz were opened, Jews are supposed to get used the fact that every once in a while we will get killed just because we are Jews. Now we have a flag, a parliament, the strongest military in the Middle East and we’re supposed to get used to it? Why did we even start all of this? What was the reason that we even established the State of Israel to begin with? We did that because we are not going to “get used to it”. And here comes the Israeli Prime Minister telling his people to “get used to it”.
But you know, he is right, we don’t have a solution. And this isn’t about Olmert personally; the entire state of Israel doesn’t have a solution. Our whole state of mind, our mentality, and our leadership are void of faith. That’s why we have no solution.
During the 2006 war with Lebanon, we had a member of the Knesset, Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab, standing on top of Carmel Mountain in Haifa. He had his cell-phone open talking directly with Hezbollah, maybe even (Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan) Nasrallah himself, telling them they missed with their rockets and in what direction to aim the next one to be on target. A Knesset member doing this! He was caught by the Israeli security organizations and what happened? Did we hang him or put him in jail? No. We just opened the gate and let him go to Jordan and we even kept on paying his Knesset salary.
How can anyone be satisfied with this?
Rabkin: Absolutely incredible.
You rose to prominence in Israel protesting the Oslo Accords. You were also one of the loudest voices against the Gaza Disengagement a few years ago. Can you tell us why?
Feiglin: What happened when (the late Israeli PM Yitzhak) Rabin shook the hand of the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the leader of an organization that exists to liberate every piece of land that the Jews have and give it to the Arabs?
Let’s assume somebody comes into your house and tells you that your house is actually his. You are just sitting in your living room and he tells you the whole house is his. By shaking his hand, what signal are you sending? The natural human reaction would be to scream, yell, kick him out, call the police – anything you need to do to get him out of there. You do that so everyone understands this claim is false and you are not accepting it. The minute you shake his hand you lost your house. You have conceded to his claims. Maybe you will come to some sort of compromise on the house itself, but that will only happen if this good guy agrees to it. But you see what has happened? All of a sudden, you became the bad guy and he is now the good guy. And this is exactly the type of situation we got ourselves into in 1993 when Yitzhak Rabkin shook Yasser Arafat’s hand.
But something much worse happened in Gush Katif (Gaza). The Israeli military actually went into Jewish villages in Gush Katif and kicked Jews out. Israel went into the homes of people, who actually believe that this land belongs to the Jews, and kicked them out of their homes and abandoned their synagogues to the Arab mobs and their torches. And this was broadcast to the entire world. Every country had their media present as this was happening. I was there; I saw all the microphones and cameras. There is not anyone in the world that did not see what the Jews were doing to themselves. With these actions, the Jews showed the world that the entire land of Israel did not belong to the Jews, but to the Arabs. And now we are the bad guys and the Arabs are the good guys. And this applies to every single Jew in the world, whether we like it or not, because Israel is the land of the Jewish nation and we are all represented by the state of Israel. The history of the Jewish people, all of us, is being written today in Jerusalem, not in New York or Toronto, but in Israel. And to everyone watching we have become the bad guys.
Everyone agrees that it is not nice that the Palestinians – I mean the Arabs of Gaza, since there is no such thing as “Palestinians” – shoot rockets and missiles at civilians. The world knows it is not nice, but they accept it anyway. You know why Dan? Why does the world stand by and accept that they are killing civilians? They accept it because, after all, it is their land and we took it away from them.
Many nations have had to fight for their rights and killed civilians. The Americans killed thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The British did the same in Dresden. But everybody understood then and still understands today, who the good guy was and who the bad guy was in those conflicts.
For Israel, we can only respond to these attacks under the very narrow frame of self-defense. If someone is shooting at us, we can shoot him down, exactly at that moment. But not the guy to his left, the guy to his right, or the women whose skirt he is hiding behind when he shoots at us. Heaven forefend that we should try to limit the amount of fuel or water or electricity with which we supply them. Of course, under such circumstances, there is no way that we can win this war or stop these attacks.
Rabkin: The way you spell it out, Israel is in serious trouble today. What needs to be done to turn things around?
Feiglin: The problem is much more than Olmert not giving the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) an order. Not that I like Ehud Olmert, believe me, I am not one of his fans. But the problem is much bigger. The problem is our mentality. Since Rabin’s handshake, the entire state of Israel marched into a state of mind of pragmatism and non-spirituality.
The only way we can solve this problem is not by getting more weapons from the United States. We don’t need more F-15s and F-16s. That is not our problem. What we need is to march back into the right state of mind. And for that we need leadership. True, authentic leadership based on Jewish values. A leadership for Israel that believes in the God of Israel.
Look at Olmert and many of the other leaders of Israel today. They can’t even explain to their own kids why we established the State of Israel to begin with. Olmert’s kids are not in Israel (Olmert’s son Shaul lives in New York and has been associated with anti-militaristic left-wing groups. His other son, Ariel, studies French Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris). The same thing is true about many of our other current leaders.
What we need is a Jewish Revolution to take back the leadership and it has already begun. We are growing stronger every day. Last August the Likud held primaries, a race that was not only going to define the leader of the Likud party, but also the next Prime Minister of Israel. Every fourth Likudnik, your regular blue-collar guy who represents the average Israeli, put my name down. And you know what my slogan was in that race? “Feiglin – Because He Has a God”. A couple of years ago, even one year before, it would have been impossible for me to finish second to Netanyahu for the leadership of the Likud and the entire State of Israel.
And let me tell you something else - in the next primaries I will win. I say this because this concept of Jewish Leadership, leadership that will lead the State of Israel in the name of God, leadership that will lead the State of Israel with Jewish values, leadership that knows where it comes from and where it is going, real Jewish leadership, is picking up steam and cannot be stopped. This totally new concept, which is being attacked from all sides, is gaining more and more popularity. And believe me Dan, this will continue. We cannot lose, we cannot stop going in this direction, because without this there is no hope. No hope for Israel and no hope for the entire Jewish Nation.
I say the entire Jewish Nation because whatever happens in Israel immediately reflects back on all Jews worldwide. When these Jews in Gush Katif were pulled from their homes, what happened to the level of anti-Semitism worldwide? It went up of course. Israel did what the world expected of us and anti-Semitism went up. When we defied the world and did what we had to do in 1967, the level of anti-Semitism dropped. Suddenly every Jew on the streets of Toronto and New York was proud to be a Jew. So you see, what happens in Israel immediately affects all Jews worldwide. A proud Israel with real Jewish faith, that knows what it stands for, impacts Jews tremendously.
So you see Dan, the problem isn’t with the Arabs; the problem is with the Jews themselves.
Rabkin: OK, but you must have some ideas on how Israel should deal with its enemies.
Feiglin: The answer is very simple. There is only one place in Israel where Jews are safe. Only one area where Jews can live in peace, safe from rockets and bombings. That place is the Golan Heights. Inside the Golan Heights you won’t even get stones thrown at you. The border between Israel and Syria is the quietest, most peaceful border we have. The place is beautiful and safe, like heaven.
How did we achieve this true peace there? Five steps were taken.
Rule number one, the Syrian Arabs that were there were evacuated. None stayed. So the first rule is, encourage the Arabs to leave. The second thing that was done was the land was taken over. After the war in 1967, we took the land over. The third rule is to annex the land. In the Golan Heights we annexed the land and put it under full Israeli sovereignty. The fourth rule is to flourish the land with as many Jewish villages as possible. And the fifth and most important rule is to never sign a peace treaty. We have not signed any peace deals with respect to the Golan Heights and look what we have – true peace. A real, true peace exists there, something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country.
Our border with Egypt is very dangerous even though we have a peace deal signed with them. To this day, Egypt fights against us via that border. And we can’t do anything because our hands are tied because of the peace deal we signed.
So these five steps must be taken in Gaza and everywhere else that we have problems with Arabs. Of course today there is no official war going on, so we can’t just throw the Arabs out. However, like I said before, the Arabs are not the problem. The problem is the Jews. We must understand that we established the State of Israel for a reason, not just to create one more democratic state. For that we could have stayed in Toronto or Australia. We came to Israel to establish a real Jewish state. And when we have real Jewish leadership in Israel, then we will deal with all of the rest of our problems in the same way as we dealt with the Golan Heights.
Rabkin: With no official war going on, like you said, you cannot just “throw the Arabs out”. So how would you go about implementing your five steps?
Feiglin: Any solution that leaves the Arabs in their place will not work, period. Fortunately, one good thing did come out of Rabin’s handshake – 15 years under the PLO/Hamas regime have made the Arabs want to leave. Various polls have showed this, the majority wants to leave. Where do they want to go?
Rabkin: By your smile, I would have to guess Canada.
Feiglin: Yes, Canada. With some of them preferring to go to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to work in the oil fields. But the first important fact is that they want to leave.
The second fact is that every year Israel spends 10% of our entire national income on the concept of Oslo. That is $150 billion every decade spent building fences, destroying Jewish villages, and putting guards in front of every coffee shop and store. Before Oslo, Israel didn’t need to have an armed guard in uniform in front of every store. That is 60,000 people on full payroll just guarding us from the effects of Oslo. That money is enough to give every Arab family in Yesha (the West Bank and Gaza) $250,000.
Look what we have here: they want to leave and we have the money. We are spending the money anyhow and we will just spend more and more. We built fences, so they started shooting rockets above it. So what will we do now? We will have to make the fences higher to stop the rockets. Or we will invent a high-tech system that costs millions to shoot down every $100 rocket they shoot. It is crazy; we will just end up spending more and more.
Basically, the Arabs want to leave and we have the money and ability to encourage and help them find a future somewhere else in the world where they won’t be used as ticking bombs against us. With the money we give them, there are many countries who wish to get this kind of immigration. So we have the ability in 10 to 15 years solve the problem, at least most of it.
So this is what Israel should do with the Arabs. But, even though this is logical, it will not work. I am telling you right now Dan, this will not happen. More and more blood will be spilled because of this Oslo mentality when the solution is simple and right in front of our eyes. The right steps will not be taken until Israel has real Jewish leadership.
Rabkin: Some of your policies are at odds with the policies of the United States. Seeing as they are such an important ally, are you concerned about that at all?
Feiglin: America did not want Israel to go and fight the Six-Day War. America did not want Israel to go and bomb the nuclear reactor in Iraq. And there are many more examples like that.
I respect the United States a lot, but I expect that kind of respect back and I believe I will get it. People who respect themselves, get the kind of respect they deserve from others.
I will not let anyone tell me what is in my best interests. I am going to worry about Israel first, but I do believe that, at the end of the day, my policies are in the interests of the United States as well.
Rabkin: Today, Israel is facing numerous very serious security threats. Hezbollah is furiously rearming in the north. The rockets are raining down from Gaza. How do you view the situation and what must be done about it?
Feiglin: Israel has a problem today. America has the same problem. We simply don’t understand who the enemy is. How could we win the war in Lebanon in 2006 if we didn’t know who the enemy was? Same thing today in Gaza. In Iraq, the US is also fighting the wrong enemy. That is why they are going to lose there.
We lost the war in Lebanon. No doubt about it, we lost. It was not because we weren’t strong enough and not because America didn’t support us. We got the full support of America. It was because we didn’t understand who the enemy was, who was hitting us, and because we did not have the right set of values to fight with.
To answer your question about what I would do about Lebanon, we must go into Lebanon like we did a few times before and conquer the territory from which attacks against Israel are being launched. This will send a message to the entire Arabic world: every territory that is being used to attack Israel will be taken away forever. If we don’t do that then we will get attacked again and again because they have nothing to lose. They learn that they can only gain by attacking us so they continue. Losing lives every once in a while doesn’t mean anything to them. They believe in death anyhow. So if we don’t put this kind of a price-tag – a price-tag of lost land, the only language they understand – we will keep defending ourselves to death.
Rabkin: Tell me if I am wrong, but the “enemy” behind everything you are referring to is Iran. The “loss of land price-tag” policy that you just outlined is aimed more at Tehran’s terrorist proxies in the region like Hezbollah and Hamas and the land bordering Israel. What policy would you use to confront Tehran directly?
Feiglin: First of all, we have to stop this game of being attacked by sub-contractors. Egypt is fighting us through Gaza. It attacks us daily. There is no doubt about it, there is a war going on between Egypt and Israel today. It is just being fought through a sub-contractor. Syria and Iran are fighting us through Hezbollah in Lebanon. And we are playing their game, instead of making them pay a price for what they are doing. We have to break this cycle and make them pay a serious price.
Rabkin: How exactly would you do that?
Feiglin: First of all, we have to understand and make sure the whole world understands exactly who is fighting who over here. Until you do that you cannot fight back. What gives you the right to bomb Damascus or Tehran otherwise? Or Egypt for that matter? I don’t know what we should do about their actions against us, but maybe that should be done against Egypt as well. We gave up the Sinai for peace and now they are using it against us. Maybe it should be taken back.
The point is this Dan: a strong Israel can achieve peaceful borders. Notice I didn’t say “peace”. “Peace” is something totally different. But we can achieve peaceful borders; a situation where people are not getting killed. A weak Israel can only achieve peace agreements. But those agreements come with a lot of bloodshed. Therefore, we should radiate strength. We have showed in the past that we can do that.
Rabkin: Let’s talk a bit about Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. With the publication of the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate in the US, the prospect of American military action to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon has decreased significantly. If Israel is forced to go it alone vis-à-vis Tehran, what would Moshe Feiglin do?
Feiglin: We should take a page out of (former Israeli PM) Menachem Begin’s book (referring to the bombing of the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981).
Rabkin: What about the consequences? Iran has missiles that can hit every city in Israel. They have established biological and chemical weapons programs. They have terrorist proxies all over the world.
Feiglin: Should we wait until those same missiles have nuclear warheads? With a nuclear bomb the consequences will be much worse.
Rabkin: Moving away from the Middle East, I understand that on your way here today you had some difficulties with Canadian Customs and Border Services and were held up for several hours. Could you comment on what exactly happened?
Feiglin: If you don’t mind Dan, I don’t want to get into details. The bottom line is that I am happy that the Canadian government made this visit possible.
Rabkin: Fair enough. Going back a bit, recently you received a letter from British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith barring you from the United Kingdom.
Feiglin: This topic, Dan, I will be more than happy to talk to you about.
Rabkin: I discussed the contents of that letter in my Londonistan Rising article, today I’d just like to get your feelings on the whole ordeal.
Feiglin: I should frame the letter and hang it on my living room wall.
All kidding aside, I am really proud of it. Britain has officially decided to be the doormat of the extreme Islamic world. London looks like the neighborhoods I have around my house (in the West Bank), so why would I even want to go there? I had not asked permission to go there and had no plans of any kind to go in the future. The letter was totally initiated from their side.
Rabkin: Why do you think they specifically targeted you?
Feiglin: As you correctly noted in your article, they have a long history of targeting Israelis. But with this letter I think they correctly defined the one leader in Israel that understands our enemies well. And because of that I am able to deal with the problem. So they targeted me for going in the right direction.
Rabkin: Have you had any problems with any other countries?
Feiglin: No, none.
Rabkin: Moshe Feiglin, thank you for joining me today.
Feiglin: Thank you, Dan.