The Feiglin Platform
By Moshe Feiglin
Translated from Yediot Aharonot
Toward Rosh Hashanah this year, the public was exposed, quite by accident, to the fact that I support supervised legalization of cannabis. This piquant topic generated much interest and revealed the large gap between my general world view and the way it is presented and understood by the public. So here is what I really think on a number of central issues. It is my personal opinion, which I will attempt to advance in the Knesset.
The main junction from which the different opinions on most issues in Israel diverge is the question of identity. Israel does not have clear borders because it does not have a clear identity. The dispute is not really over peace or security. After all, we expelled ourselves from Gush Katif with the clear knowledge that we would get neither of the above in exchange. The dispute is about identity. The more solid our Jewish identity, the stronger the connection between us and our Land. The stronger the desire to retreat from our Jewish identity, the stronger our desire to retreat from the Land. When we connect to our identity, we will connect to our Land and we will merit clear borders and peace.
Peace? Absolutely. True peace, like Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall.” He understood that the Arabs would never accept the existence of a Jewish entity – within any borders – inside the Mediterranean Islamic expanse. Instead, he professed, they would prefer correct neighborly relations with a Jewish State that believes in its justice and is determined to defend every grain of the Land of Israel under IDF control.
Thus, the important issue is not the “peace process” with the Arabs, but the process of building our identity; of building a Jewish state that will restore our lost feeling of collective meaning. If we properly build a Jewish state of liberty, we will merit peace in Sderot and Kiryat Shmonah. But if we continue to flee this true challenge – if we continue to search for the solution with the neighbors and not inside the house – Tel Aviv will not enjoy quiet, either.
What is the Jewish State that I envision? The most basic Jewish principle is liberty that stems from the Jewish belief in the Creator. Faith in G-d is the root of liberty.
All throughout history, from Pharaoh and Ahashverosh and from Hitler to Stalin, absolutist dictators scheming to conquer and enslave the entire world would conclude that they must destroy the Jewish People. For the Jew’s very essence will always remain free. He cannot be turned into a slave. He already has a king: The King of the world.
When the founding fathers of America wanted to establish a state founded on liberty, the Bible and the Exodus from Egypt were their main source of inspiration. Now, when Western civilization is crumbling under a demographic and cultural attack, there are great expectations for a new message of liberty that will emerge from Zion. When those expectations are left unresolved, they turn into disappointment and are translated into loss of legitimacy for the existence of a Jewish state on the face of the earth. “We dreamed of a place in which the Book of Books would be re-written, in preparation for the redemption of the world. For after all, you are a treasured nation.” This is how British intellectuals explained their anger toward Israel. “The world had expectations, and now see what you have done.” (Makor Rishon)
Now is the time to wave the banner of liberty from its source: from the Nation and Land of the Bible. We must slowly but surely switch over to liberty-based conduct. For the State belongs to the nation – not vice versa.
Housing: Allocation of land by lottery
Approximately 93% of the land for housing is currently being held by the State, through the Israel Land Authority. This data is more befitting of totalitarian countries. But even more amazing is the fact that most of the land ultimately made available for construction comes from the additional seven percent of private land in Israel. The State is simply holding on to the central resource that belongs to the entire nation. This causes an artificial rise in the cost of land, housing and living.
This Land is our Land. Not only on a national level, but on the most personal level, as well. Joshua allocated the Land of Israel to the tribes and the families before they even entered the Land. The Torah of Israel sanctifies the bond between the Israeli and his apportioned lot of land. We must slowly but surely (by lottery) transfer ownership of the land from the State to the nation. Free trade between citizens will lower the cost of land even more and will do to housing what the liberty principle did to the cell phone market. In this way, our children will also be able to buy apartments.
“A father must teach his child Torah.” This is what the Torah teaches us. But in the state of the Jews, the responsibility has slipped off the shoulders of the father and onto the shoulders of the minister. Without even noticing it, parents have surrendered their most central liberty: the liberty to educate their children. Today, if a parent wishes to independently educate his child, he must acquire special authorization from the Ministry of Education.
A liberty-based state will employ the voucher method. The Education Ministry will supply every parent with education vouchers to be used for their children. Special needs children will receive more vouchers. Parents will be able to “cash” these vouchers in the school of their choice. This will create healthy competition between the schools, the level of studies and diversity will flourish and responsibility and liberty will be restored to the parents.
Family: Income Tax for Couples
The family is the first and most basic support system that a person has. It fashions his identity and fosters his liberty. Without family (and community) modern man remains alone in the big city, enslaved to forces greater than him.
In the past two decades, the State of Israel has done all in its power to compromise the status of the family. Today, happy couples divorce just for the tax exemptions afforded single parents.
The State of Israel must restore the traditional family as a value to be encouraged. It need not replace single-parenthood and must not stem from scorn toward the rights of homosexuals. Instead, it must highlight the understanding that without the traditional family, there is no society and no liberty. The first thing that must be done is to tax families as one organic unit (the sum of the income of both partners). In this way, one partner can work extra hours and be taxed reasonably, allowing the other partner to spend quality time with the children.
Economy: Capitalism, Charity and Kindness
Everyone rightfully praises Communications Minister Moshe Kachlon for lowering the price of cell phones, calling him the “social minister.” But the minister implemented his cell-phone revolution with free-market principles. Real capitalism – the kind that is truly equal opportunity – is a social tool that allows people to live in relative affluence and to enjoy the fruits of their labor without falling prey to institutionalized robbery.
Judaism sanctifies the connection between a person and his possessions. This is unparalleled in any other culture. However, Jewish economics is not exactly like the more familiar Western capitalism that exhausts itself and becomes a tool in the service of a thin slice of society. The motto of the rest of the world is: What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours. Jews recognize that everything comes from G-d and is simply deposited in our hands. This means that charity and kindness to others are not voluntary; they are our obligation toward He Who deposited the wealth in our hands.
Israel must privatize its assets to the public and not to control cores as per the model of Yaron Zelicha, who recommended privatizing Israel’s Bank Leumi to the bank accounts of the public.
Religion and State: No Coercion
I oppose religious legislation and would be happy to see religious political parties disappear. The Creator does not need them. There is no law in Israel that requires parents to circumcise their sons. But the vast majority of Jews in Israel do so, nevertheless, because it is part of our culture. On the other hand, there is a law in Israel that prohibits the sale of chametz on Passover. But that law is openly violated because the Torah has not yet become an integral part of Israeli culture. Laws should express culture, not attempt to create it.
I am opposed to all types of coercion – both religious and secular. It is impossible to force a person to rest on Shabbat, or to force a soldier to listen to women singing (a totally ridiculous issue). I see discrimination against women as despicable. But it is unreasonable to force an ultra-Orthodox bus company to institute mixed seating on its buses against the wishes of its customers. It is unreasonable to prohibit homosexuals from parading in places where the majority of the public is not offended by their march. But it is also unreasonable to force a neighborhood in which the majority of residents will be offended by a homosexual parade to be on the route of such an event.
The idea of civil marriage is correct. Israel must allow the Ministry of Interior to issue marriage licenses to non-Jews, which will include all the privileges associated with a marriage license. However, we cannot force the halachic (Jewish law) authority to afford the status of Jew to those people who are not recognized as such by Jewish law.
The local community should decide what businesses should be opened on Shabbat.
Draft and Equality: A Volunteer Army
Israel’s population in the sixties and seventies was half of what it is today. Organized armies sat on our borders, waiting for the command to destroy us. Nevertheless, army service was two and a half years and women did not serve in combat units. Today, the only regular army that is a threat to Israel is the Egyptian army (thanks to our peace treaty with Egypt) at the opposite end of the demilitarized Sinai. War has transformed into a high-tech, guerilla conflict. Nevertheless, soldiers are now drafted for three years, because the IDF is considered the “People’s Army.”
The IDF does not need all these new draftees and has admitted as much to a number of committees that it has established. Obligatory draft is fine for actual war. But it severely contradicts the principle of liberty. Israel should gradually transform the IDF into a professional volunteer army. It will be able to choose the best and brightest of the volunteers and to compensate them accordingly. These volunteers will receive the best professional and academic training. The rest of the draft age citizens – men and women – will be inducted, do a short basic training and will be immediately discharged. In an emergency, these people can be drafted for service on the home front or for further training. This will make the question of draft for sectors who are not interested in army service redundant.
Jerusalem: Full Sovereignty – Especially on the Temple Mount
The precondition for victory is belief in the justice of one’s cause.
When Israel recognized the existence of a nation without a history and its right to its heartland in Oslo, we lost our most important weapon; belief in the justice of our cause. When the Hamas talks in the name of justice and Israel talks only in the name of pragmatism and the right to defend ourselves – the most state of the art weapons will not help. The side that does not believe that it is just cannot win. Victory has become a dirty word in the army lexicon.
We cannot convince the world that we believe that this is our Land if we do not restore our complete sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount – the most holy site to Judaism that has been out of our control for years.
When we return to ourselves and to our justice, we will be able to triumph and defeat any enemy.
Gaza: Revoke the Oslo Accords
There is no solution for Gaza if we do not understand that we are not colonialists and that Israel is our Land. I oppose endangering our soldiers in a ground assault on Gaza if we intend to subsequently exit the area. The fact that Israel continues to provide electricity and cash to those who target its citizens is completely unreasonable. Israel must engage in a Defensive Shield type of operation in Gaza (editor: in which Israeli forces re-captured areas of Judea and Samaria from which Oslo had dictated that they retreat) destroy the Hamas, restore security to southern Israel and return to the infinitely better situation that we had there prior to the Oslo Accords. Ultimately, Israel must relate to Gaza as it does to Judea and Samaria.
The Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza: Permanent Residency
The Land of Israel is our Land and we will never leave it. Israel must declare sovereignty over all parts of the Land that are in our hands, as the Likud Charter requires. Israel’s Arabs enjoy all rights – even more than Israel’s Jewish citizens. The Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza can be offered permanent residency status. This status will afford them full human rights and most of the services that the State of Israel gives its citizens. It will be forbidden to do to them what we did to our own brothers in Gush Katif. Israeli citizenship will be granted to those non-Jews who have tied their fate to Israel and who have proven their loyalty to the State. Those Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza who insist on voting for a parliament may do so in any one of the 22 amazing democracies that the Arab Nation has established since World War I.
The Iranian Threat: No Foreign Involvement
One lesson of the Holocaust is that negation of the victims’ legitimacy precedes actual physical destruction. The Holocaust of the Jews of Europe did not begin in 1939 when the war broke out. It began in 1933 when Hitler became chancellor of Germany and, as head of state, began to espouse his threats to destroy the Jews. When the war broke out, a question mark already hovered over the right of the Jews to exist.
When the leader of a sovereign nation prepares to destroy Israel and publicly declares his intentions, he negates our legitimacy. This is the correspondence that we see between Ahmadinijad’s hate speeches and the accelerating process of de-legitimization of Israel in the Western world.
It is a fatal mistake to involve the world in the Iranian issue. If the world solves the problem, Israel will always be forced to pay for the right to breathe air on the face of the earth. He who threatens to destroy us loses his own right to exist. Think of how many lives would have been saved if the free world had understood this and killed Hitler before he embarked on World War II.
America: No Foreign Aid
Israel should have foregone American foreign aid long ago. The foreign aid that Israel receives from America amounts to 4% of its GNP. Israel exports to America approximately one third more than it imports.
When America owes 16 trillion dollars to China, it is not reasonable that a much better-off country like Israel should expect donations. Israel’s relationship with the US should be based on common interests and values between strategic partners.
Israel must demand the release of Jonathan Pollard and expel the US spies who fill our country.
We Still Have a Long Way to Go
My election to the Knesset is an important stage in the journey that began with the establishment of Zo Artzeinu and continued with the establishment of Manhigut Yehudit and our integration into the Likud. I do not know what role the Prime Minister will offer me. I am particularly interested in a position of influence in education, housing or security. But any position that will foster my efforts to advance the liberty, Jewish identity and meaning of the Jewish State are relevant.
My insistence on advancing my agenda from within the national ruling party was not the easy route to the Knesset. I could have been a Knesset Member long ago with a sectoral party that has no influence. In the face of the relentless zigzagging of Israeli politics and the embarrassing paucity of ideas in the ideological marketplace, my political opponents can also benefit from the contrast that my ideology provides.
I intend to help the Likud, the government and the Prime Minister – who I greatly respect – as much as possible. When the time comes to elect a new leader for the Likud, I plan to run once again in order to advance the Jewish liberty alternative for leadership of Israel.