Bibi Netanyahu is facing no particular internal political threat (though he faces an external one in the shape of Barack Obama), yet his competitors for Likud party leadership are still jockeying for position. Bogie Yaalon, former IDF chief of staff and current minister of strategic affairs, sees himself as a future prince of the Likud. To become party leader, he apparently sees his best chance by allying himself with fascist right. That’s why he spoke at an event this week honoring Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Manhigut Yehudit far right faction of the party. In case you’re wondering where to place Feiglin on the political spectrum, think an amalgam of Geert Wilders, Meir Kahane, Jean Marie Le Pen and Jorge Haider:
Here is but a single statement out of many that I could offer:
“Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. Nazism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status. The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order. Hitler savored good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs. They merely used thugs and homosexuals.”
Feiglin’s views are so extreme that the British foreign office declared him persona non grata there, meaning he can’t fundraise among his fellow British Kahanists.
Here is a selection of Yaalon’s more offensive statements at the event:
“I, for one, am not afraid of the Americans,” Ya’alon said in the speech, which was reported by Channel 2’s Amit Segal. “I believe that Jews have the right to live anywhere in the land of Israel forever.”
In the speech, Ya’alon also denounced the power of the press and other “elites” in Israel to make or break politicians and lashed out at the extreme Left. He also called Peace Now “a virus.”
Feiglin praised Ya’alon at the rally and committed to him the support of Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit ideological forum in Likud, which has become increasingly powerful in the party’s institutions. That support could aid Ya’alon in an eventual run to lead the party.
Most observers of Israeli politics will not be surprised at any of this. Likud has long been the home of some of the most stridently nationalist politicians in the country. But it is still somewhat unusual for a Likud party leader to support overtly those who ardently espouse the political views of Meir Kahane. After all, while he was alive the man was considered persona non grata and practically a Jewish terrorist by most of the nation.
This development indicates to me that had Kahane lived he would not be in jail, but rather a minister in the current government and a potential Likud party leader. Those who care about Israel must be alarmed by the alliances made by politicians such as Yaalon. We are rapidly losing the Israel some of us once knew. It is being replaced by a state lapsing into proto-fascism.
Seeing someone who considers himself Jewish claim Hitler provided Germany “an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order” was quite a surprise to me. Of course I knew many Zionist Jews emulate the Nazis to varying extents, and some even saw common ground with them in the early days, but at least post-Shoah I never expected to see one actually express such admiration for them. Incest is arguably wholesome in comparison to that.
Hello. I am a Feiglinite. I am a very active Feiglinite, having brought 35 people into the Likud for Feiglin so far, and I have lots more work to do.
I can say, just factually, that Bogey will get no support from Feiglin whatsoever in a run for the Likud Leadership. To assume that he will proves you ignore Feiglin’s own words. And though you detest him, you must give him the credit that he does not lie. He will run himself for the Likud leadership, and Bogey will not get ONE single vote from any Feiglinite, because we are all voting for him.
Your article is as incorrect as it is distasteful and ignorant.
Richard Silverstein says
I’m honored that you find my post distasteful. If your response was any diff. I’d be very concerned that I wasn’t strong enough in my denunciation.
As for taking over the Likud, I hope you do so you can discredit the entire Israeli right. But recruiting 30 new members isn’t going to get you there even if there are 500 others like you. Thank God you’re in the minority & will stay in the minority of overall Israeli opinion. And if by some monumental catastrophe of Jewish destiny your ilk DO take over Israeli politics, I will raise funds to build a new ark and remove those Israelis who are sane & bring them to some safe haven before you run Israel entirely into the rocks & it meets the same fate that ancient Israel did when the Romans conquered it.
I do not fear you at all. I’ve dealt with fools, bigots & monsters like you. You’re your own–& Israel’s own worst enemy. Israelis should fear you, but I don’t.
YOU may not admire Hitler but your Israeli fuhrer does.
I’ve gotten 35, not 30. Two more today. Just to put the numbers in perspective: There are about 12,000 of us, and we all get other people, not just me. There are 130,000 Likud members. About 60,000 of them vote in any given internal election (estimated turnout of 40% on average). Last time, Feiglin only lost by 14,000 votes. He is now 37 closer. And with 12,000 of us, who knows who else is grabbing others. And other “non Feiglinites” vote for him as well, do not forget.
So I’ll make a wager with you. First, let’s put away the name calling, fascist, Hitler, monsters, bigots, fuhrer. There’s no point in it.
Here’s my wager. IF Feiglin does take over the likud, (if he doesn’t this is irrelevant) one of two things can happen. EITHER – the Right does get discredited, like you said, and Likud crashes in the elections and Feiglin goes home a failure, and you can breathe a sigh of relief that you won’t have to build an ark, sir Noah. I will send you an email of congratulations, that you were right.
But here’s what I think will happen, and if I’m right, then you’ll send me an email of congratulations: I bet you that if and when Feiglin does win the Likud vote, he will win such an overwhelming landslide victory in the general elections that Likud under him will get a straight majority in the Knesset, and for the first time in Israeli history, no coalition government will be necessary. Anything less than that, and you still win, even if he is prime minister.
You can think I’m crazy all you want, delusions of grandeur and whatnot. But I suggest you read Feiglin’s book “Where There are No Men” and open your eyes. There’s no risk. We’re not going to brainwash you, Richard. I’ll read whatever you want as well. I have an open mind, despite what you think.
Richard Silverstein says
I’ll take the bet in a heartbeat & you are entirely deluded. But that’s good for our side. If your leader is as deluded as you then you’ll defeat yrselves in the next election.
But I’ll pass on reading Feiglin. I’ve read quite enough already about him and read enough wisdom emanating from the mouth of the exalted. A book would be overkill…really. And I don’t think anything I can recommend to you to read would have the slightest impact on yr views, so I won’t.
And do keep up the good work. I’d like nothing more than to see Feiglin beat Bibi in the next leadership primary. If you set up a contest between Feiglin & Livni the rest of us know who wins hands down. But you can pretend you never heard it since you refuse to believe it’s possible (again, that’s good for our side).
William Smart says
Richard – it’s all very well wanting to save decent Israelis from their increasingly unpleasant and doomed state, but there is a real danger of leaving a crippled nuclear Israel in the hands of Masada2000 and “Israel Has Nuclear Weapons and MUST Use Them and All Those Arming the Arabs Must Share the Pain!”
(Unfortunately, I’ve had to link to a cache of their siren-song – the original, when they get it back up, comes with rather neat music).
I don’t know the answer – sanctions against any of them leaving until all of them agree to do so? Is there any way this can end except in tears?
Richard Silverstein says
Whoa, the site is down! I’m delighted to hear it. I do however feel for those rabid Jewish right wing exterminationists who will have nowhere to go to ease their need for anti-Arab hate. Perhaps a detox center?
Hey Richard –
Now we’re talking to each other a bit more calmly. I’m glad. You’re right, nothing you could recommend to me would have much of an impact on my views, but I could say the same for you, no? It wouldn’t Look, the point isn’t to impact each other’s views. The point is to have a dialogue so we understand each other better. Then the demonizing kind of calms down a little bit and we stop using Nazi comparisons and other abhorrent rhetoric.
I’d very much like to explain myself (and ourselves) to you, with the hope that, though I won’t change your views, I’ll at least convince you that we are not Nazis or Fascists, and we are really trying to save the Jewish people from a third exile. Can I do that? But we have to get this out of the comments section, so give me your email, or just email me. You already have mine.
Can I read a short biography of you somewhere? Do you have a wikipedia page or something? I’d like to know who I’m dealing with.
I don’t refuse to believe anything. And if you’d lke nothing more than to see Feiglin beat Bibi in the next primary, then we have something very big in common. Keep cheering me on. I’m doing my best, really. Just know that the straight majority in the knesset – you heard it first from me. So we’ll see who’s really in the majority. I’ll give it 3 years. And today is August 24, 2009, so keep it in the back of your head.
Consider reading Feiglin’s book. It’s a story about the protest against the Oslo Accords. And his mouth is not exalted. We are not idolaters. Just simple Jews.
Richard Silverstein says
You’ve got things backward. YOu came here bragging about yr political prowess & spoiling for something. I never asked for a dialogue with you. But you’re of course just as welcome as anyone else to be here as long as you adhere to my comment rules, which you have done so far.
As for Nazi comparisons, Feiglin brought that on himself. So he & you will have to live with what others make of his own words on the subject. I will continue calling him a Jewish fascist as long as he is a threat to Israeli democracy (or whatever we want to call it).
I firmly believe that you are sincere in yr views & believe you are trying to save the Jewish people. Sincerity isn’t your problem. It’s yr policies & views that are a deep threat to everything I hold dear about Israel & my Jewish identity.
I’m glad you realize that the comment threads of this blog are not a venue for promoting a particular political party. You can start yr own blog for that.
If you wish to read more about me the About page in my sidebar should suffice.
Sorry – I replied to another reply. You’ll find it I’m sure. Anyway – I heard it from you – Feiglin vs Livni, you say Livni wins hands down. I will not deny it. You can print this up if it ever comes to that. Same goes for Feiglin vs Mofaz, or Feiglin versus anyone else. I say he will get at least 61 seats. You say he will lose. I understand. Now let time tell. See my reply to you below William Smart.
By “him,” I mean Feiglin. And yes, I was at the event with Ya’alon.
Let me tell you, we’re almost there. A few thousand more and we have the Likud. You should fear us. You should fear us very, very much. Because we are going to change Israel from the very foundations.
And no, we don’t admire Hitler or Fascism. But you love using those comparisons, so keep doing it.
So Moshe Feiglin draws inspiration from the Nazis, Okaayyyy, that’s interesting!?!? I’ve felt for a while now that right-wing Israelis and the Israeli government have internalized aspects of Nazi thought and assumptions, one could say even aspects of policy when you look at Gaza, who was the British MP who compared Gaza back during Operation Cast Lead to the Warsaw Ghetto? (I’m not equating Israel and the Nazis overall, obviously there still is a big difference, I believe Barenboim made a similar point recently, ‘I’m not equating Israel and the Nazis’, but still got in trouble back home in Israel.)
I’d like to offer a little suggestion to the Feiglins out there, adopting historic National Socialism as a model is definitely NOT the way to go (alert!!–massive understatement currently transpiring). If you’d like to take something away from the broader swath of German history and culture, I’d suggest the Germany of Gutenberg, Kant, Goethe & Beethoven, NOT the Nazis!
I can’t believe I’m even needing to offer this counsel to someone who is Jewish, truly amazing and appalling.