Win By A Technicality, Lose By One Too

The Jerusalem Post reports on how Moshe Feiglin was “demoted” to the 36th spot on the Likud list from the 20th.  Bibi Netanyahu is spinning it as showing that he is the leader and calls the shots, and Moshe Feiglin is spinning it as dirty tricks.

Personally, I think it is somewhere in between. For those of you who do not understand the ins and outs of the Likud primaries, here are the basics. (I am definitely NOT an expert, if you really want all of the details you can go over and read Ben Chorin). The list is made up of people who run on their own right, and those who run for “special” places. There are spaces “reserved” for women, new immigrants, etc. There are those “reserved” for those on regional lists too. Think of it as affirmative action.

The 10th and 20th spaces were originally reserved for women, but since women earned spots higher up than this on their own right, the 20th spot opened up. Moshe Feiglin won this spot – on a technicality. The Likud “court” then decided to change who would now be elegible for this spot – on a technicality.

If someone else had won the 20th spot would they have changed the rules? Probably not. Was this a deliberate attempt to push Feiglin down on the list? Of course.

On the other hand, you need to see more of the forest than the trees to understand the whole picture. Manhigut Yehudit has signed up people for years to be Likud members, just so that they could vote in these primaries. They were successful in changing the rules so that members had to be in the Likud for at least 16 months before being eligible to vote in the primaries – to counter the efforts of unscrupulous politicians from bussing in people at the last minute to vote for them (a favorite tactic of the Sharons in the past). On the other hand, they only signed up about 7,000 Likud members, out of the 99,000 that are eligible to vote now.

This means that Moshe Feiglin has support, but not the power that he seems to have on first blush. People seeing him win the 20th spot think he had a lot more votes than he did in reality – because he was competing against fewer candidates for a reserved place.

In short, he won his spot on a technicality, and he lost it too.

Personally I think this is a good thing, because it will be a test for Moshe Feiglin and for the other members of Manhigut Yehudit. Do they really want to promote the Likud, or do they only want to promote Moshe Feiglin?

I joined Manhigut Yehudit a long time ago because I agreed with the concept of joining a large party in order to influence from within. But I thought that doing this entailed working with other people, treating others with real respect – even if they disagreed with you, and making compromises. Some of the stated platforms of MY were a bit extreme for my taste, but on the whole I agreed with them.

I started to become disappointed with MY when I saw that the forums were focussing a lot on bashing Bibi Netanyahu and not on substantive things. I am no fan of Bibi – I think he can be weak and cares too much about image and not about real principles. On the other hand the man has a lot of power, and he, for the time being at least, is the undisputed leader of the Likud. Politics is politics, and sometimes you have to hold your nose. Bashing the leader of the party is not good for the party, and until you have more power than he does, it is a stupid move for an up and coming politician. I said this in the forums and was ignored.

I decided to break with Manhigut Yehudit altogether after the incident in Amona. I read the following press release from Manhigut Yehudit and was thoroughly disgusted:

Amona: Erasing the Shame of Gush Katif
Let*s be honest. The courageous youth in Amona erased the shame of Gush
Katif. They restored honor to the Jews and as a result, they also
restored their elementary right to exist. The entire concept of
brotherhood and love with which our youth was force-fed by Religious
Zionism was exposed this summer as a cruel lie. We taught our children
to embrace serpents.
When thousands are driven from their homes and thrown away like a
worn-out rag and the entire response is chapters of Psalms and sermons
by weeping rabbis in the synagogues of Gush Katif, the human face of the
victims is wiped out. As I write these lines, I almost feel the need to
add “justifiably.” Of course, it is not justifiable that Israel forgot
the homeless of Gush Katif. But what we must understand is that Israel
relates to them as a public that has lost its honor. In my estimation,
many, many people in the settlements and in all parts of Israel can
thank the courageous youth of Amona for the ground on which they will
continue to live — to live and not to die. They have returned a human
face to the Orange public and they have begun to restore the balance of
intimidation to the settlements. Furthermore, they have given the State
of Israel the chance to survive the all out collapse to which an
un-elected scoundrel is leading us all — on their backs.
But even if I am wrong, and the destruction continues full steam ahead,
what happened in Amona is a defining event. It is now clear that besides
the Christian love for evil, we have managed to instill in our youth a
few true values: True love and responsibility for the Nation of Israel.
Uncompromising dedication to the Torah and Land of Israel. Modesty,
sincerity, courage, perseverance and hope. In Gush Katif and
Shomron our youth learned that the ideology of the rabbis of the “love
that triumphs” does not fit in with reality. They may not yet know how
to verbalize the healthy ideology, but as in every historical watershed
event, the exact written ideology is formulated on the heels of the
events. It does not create it.

As I wrote in the comments section in a previous post about the Likud list:

What happened in Amona was a tragedy, as was the disengagement. Praising the young people who were brutally beaten at Amona for their courage is one thing. Deriding the equally heroic residents of Gush Katif who left their homes WITHOUT RAISING A HAND TO THEIR FELLOW JEW was, in my opinion, completely uncalled for and showed very poor judgement. I sensed from this article that MY had crossed over a line into fanaticism. The whole tone of the article – “See, these are the REAL heroes – these guys who got beaten. Not those namby-pamby people from Nevel Dekalim who embarrassed us by leaving quietly” gave me serious pause. I guess I am one of those religious Zionists who still believe in brotherhood and love, and still think that saying Tehillim and praying to G-d is an acceptable way to react.

I also think that calling other people names when they do not agree with you shows a lack of stature. When prominent politicians in Yesha came out in favor of Elkin for a reserved spot instead of the candidate that MY favored, they bashed them in the press by saying that they have a “slave mentality”. Lashing out at others in frustration when you do not get your way is not what I want from a leader representing me.

What’s it going to be Manhigut Yehudit – more sour grapes or working for the Likud?

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Risa
    Dec 12, 2008 @ 07:08:35

    Well put. This is really the test. There are probably many people who viewed MY’s attempt to keep the Likud ‘right’ as a worthy cause but don’t want to see them destroying the good this did by acting irresponsibly now.

  2. Yogi
    Dec 14, 2008 @ 08:44:36

    MY have been antagonizing Likud members ever since they joined the party. This is part tactics (stupid) and part their general disdain for everyone who does not agree with them and behave like them (incredible arrogance), and part just plain awful interpersonal skills which is a general trait of MY members.

    This is a shame since Feiglin is an astute observer of Israeli politics and could have been an excellent MK.But he is just not cut out to be a politician.

  3. soccer dad
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 22:25:08

    Thank you for writing this. I didn’t know this background.

    I had assumed that something else was at play in this maneuver: memories of 95-96.

    What most people don’t remember is that before PM Rabin was assassinated, he was increasingly unpopular. I think it was largely due to the mocking tactics of Zo Artzeinu. Had Rabin not been killed, Netanyahu would have won the election in 96 handily.

    However after the assassination everything changed. The mocking of Zo Artzeinu became incitement and Netanyahu, who had benefitted from the tactics was now tarred by them. (Very unfairly, but that’s the way things go in politics.)

    He needs (political) distance between himself and Moshe Feiglin.

    Also there’s a campaign to paint Bibi as beyond the pale. Olmert’s Yedioth Ahronot speech was part of it. It’s an article of faith in the NYT and WaPo that Olmert’s way is the only way. Bibi really needs to portray himself as the center. Stiffing Feiglin helps that effort immensely.

  4. Jameel @ The Muqata
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 12:29:45

    Soccer Dad: I don’t think that Bibi needs to portray himself as Center — the country is looking for leadership to the right of Center. Going after Feiglin has cost Bibi the lead over Kadima that he has before the primaries, and significantly reduced the possibility of right wing voters voting for the Likud.

    WBM: I share your pain, but I don’t think that there’s an alternative to the Likud for leadership of the country. MY needs to be very long term, but I dont think that people have the patience.

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