Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred to them as "crazy extremist intruders." Tommy Lapid, leader of the Shinui party in the Israeli Knesset, says they are "fascisizing Israeli politics." "They" are the members of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction within the ruling Likud Party. Their leader is Moshe Feiglin. As the Christian Science Monitor says, "Mr. Feiglin has become an increasingly potent political force who, even his detractors concede, can no longer be ignored."
Feiglin shouldn't be ignored -- he should be encouraged. He embodies the future of Israel, a future in which true Jewish values will guide political decisions. It is Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit that have opposed Ariel Sharon's capitulation to terror in the form of a pullout from the Gaza Strip. It is Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit that have stood up against Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Israeli territory through the Trojan Horse of the security fence. It is Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit that have called attention to the fact that Sharon's government has broken faith with the Israelis who elected it by contravening the stated platform of the Likud Party.
Feiglin, age 42, has been a rising power in Israeli politics for the last decade. During the early days of the disastrous Oslo "Peace" Process, Feiglin organized Zo Artzeinu (This Is Our Land), a group dedicated to non-violent opposition to Oslo. Tens of thousands of Israelis joined him and held sit-down strikes to protest the Accords. Feiglin was jailed for "sedition" by the Yitzhak Rabin government, which would brook no dissent. In 1999, Feiglin decided to join the Likud and bring change from the inside. His Manhigut Yehudit is now the largest faction within the Likud Central Committee, the body that decides Likud Party policy.
I had the opportunity to speak with Feiglin on Dec. 29 by phone from Israel. What came across in our conversation was Feiglin's deep-rooted faith in God and in the eternal vitality of Jewish identity. Feiglin criticized Prime Minister Sharon, explaining that Sharon "has the wrong identity. You can't really ask why Sharon is giving in without asking why every Likud prime minister, from (Menachem) Begin to (Yitzhak) Shamir to (Benyamin) Netanyahu, has also given in. The reason is because they all have the wrong identities. To try to separate God from Israeli politics is a mistake, but the Israeli government has been doing it all along."
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