Photo: Erez Erlichman
Moshe Feiglin
Photo: Erez Erlichman

Death of a party

Moshe Feiglin's strong showing good news for Bibi: Things couldn't be any worse

Moshe Feiglin is not curious, as opposed to the way people who have never spoken to him try to portray him.


He is a very serious man. His view of the world is something that a majority of Israelis that calls itself the "center" must deal with seriously: Not only because he paints a picture of Israel drowning in the sea of enemies surrounding it if it isn't ruled by a religious-nationalist leadership, but also because of Feiglin's willingness to use democratic means, including non-violent civil revolt, to accomplish his goals.


In a country where "faith in democracy" too often means lack of political strength and meek acceptance of the channels of authority, Feiglin is a thrilling, challenging antithesis.


Several years ago Feiglin chose, in contrast to former colleague Binyamin Elon, to reject the "purity" of a small party, but rather to join the Likud and to start what he sees as a long road with an inevitable end – a religious leader for the new Israeli right.


Challenging the Likud


Then, the "Feiglins" were outsiders in the Likud – not because they were religious and committed to the Whole Land of Israel, but rather because the Likud viewed itself first and foremost as the ruling party.


In an amazing revolution, the party founded by Menachem Begin had become a collection of people with no ideology, focused only on staying in power and enjoying the benefits that come with it.


Feiglin appeared to a party connected to Shlomi Oz and Inbal Gavrieli as some sort of bizarre deja vu, a reminder of days gone by.


Outdated right-wing


The current primaries prove things have come full circle: Less than 50,000 people voted in the Likud election, about one-third the number who voted in the Sharon-Netanyahu election in 2003.


The atmosphere surrounding the voting stations bore no resemblance to the vibrant carnival that defined that event less than three years ago. And Moshe Feiglin, the outsider, a guy that doesn't go to bar mitzvahs or kiss babies, came away with real gains.


For two decades we have become used to respecting the Likud's instinct for power as the greatest power in Israeli politics. But if the Likud still saw itself as the ruling power, Feiglin would have received the same number of votes he got Monday, but they would have represented just a fraction of the vote he actually received.


Today, the power-seekers have moved on, and Feiglin got a higher percentage than Yisrael Katz, more than Shaul Mofaz would have gotten had he not jumped to Kadima, more than Binyamin Ben-Eliezer got in the Labor primaries last month.


98 days till elections


This is a party that has Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm less than 100 days before Election Day; a man who has played no small part in creating the party's current situation.


Feiglin's accomplishment Monday will strengthen the claims of those painting the Likud as an outdated right-wing fragment, and will make it even more difficult for Netanyahu – who in any event has recently dusted off the old, irrelevant trick "Sharon/Peres/Silvan will divide Jerusalem" – to begin anew his march towards the center.


The good news for Bibi is that things couldn't be any worse. The current situation, in which the Likud will win 12 Knesset seats or less, is not a situation of balance.


The prime minister's health problems have once again shown, despite the concert of Sharon's people in the media, just how weak Kadima is, resting on the shoulders of just one person; a man who is 78 years of age.


Still, Netanyahu must do some political magic, because center-right voters won't buy the trick he performed by accepting the Oslo Accords prior to the 1996 elections. He is likely, if not this week then some time soon, to get a few more Knesset seats in the polls once the political landscape settles down from the upheaval of the last few months.


If he is wise enough to turn this into momentum, things could really get interesting. If not, then Monday night was the beginning of Moshe Feiglin's path to head the Likud – and the sunset of the party as a viable alternative, until further notice.


פרסום ראשון: 12.20.05, 10:51
 new comment
This will delete your current comment