Moshe Feiglin, a former Knesset member who represented the Likud party from 2013 to 2015, and led Zo Artzeinu, (This is our Land) which protested the Oslo Accords, has recently launched a new Israeli political party of his own called Zehut, which is mobilizing and growing. Feiglin is also a columnist for the Jewish Press (http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/) who comments on issues ranging from politics to Israeli culture. He describes himself as a faithful libertarian; he created his new party after he became frustrated with the Likud and believed it needed to be challenged from a party on the right. Zehut’s motto is “Liberty, Purpose, and Jewish Identity,” and takes alternative and controversial positions on issues that face Israeli society.
In a video produced by the party to outline their agenda, the party proposes a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by annexing the West Bank and offering three options to non-Jewish residents: Financial assistance to emigrate, permanent residency status for “those who stay and openly declare their loyalty to Israel, just like residents of other Western countries,” and “the few who wish to become loyal Israeli citizens and serve in the army...will be able to receive full citizenship following a lengthy and in depth examination.”
The video also cites a study by the American Israeli Demographic Research Group from 2012 which claims that by 2035, the Jewish majority will increase to 80% between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Feiglin believes that the United States should cease funding to Israel, claiming “this so-called aid is much more of an American interest more than an Israeli interest” because the money from the aid is only permitted to be spent in the United States. Feiglin says Israel and the United States “have common interests and common values” but believes that the “relationship should be on the same level of two countries that respect and honor each other.” We met Feiglin at his party headquarters in Tel Aviv with a gathering of about sixty members of his party in the room next to us. Below is The Daily Wire’s conversation with Feiglin about his beliefs, as well as his thoughts on the U.S./Israel relationship.
How do you identify yourself? Do you think you’re a libertarian?
I didn’t know what libertarian meant when I started my movement. Later on, I was told that, “Hey! You’re actually a libertarian.” So I started to look and teach myself what libertarianism is. I don’t define myself according to, you know, boxes. I am trying to find my roots in my identity, my Jewish identity, and I believe freedom and liberty are the basics of Judaism. The whole concept of Judaism is liberty; I think that the founding fathers of the United States, I think most of their concepts of liberty were taken from the Bible, from our heritage. So for me, it is inaccurate to say I am championing some kind of quite new concept that was brought from abroad. It is very original (based on the Bible), what I do. We have a very Jewish original culture: that is what I am trying to present. However, if you need those boxes to try to put me somewhere in your mind, I would say I am kind of a faithful libertarian. Something like that.
Like a religious libertarian?
I don’t like the word “religious” and I don't even consider myself religious. Religion and Judaism are two different things.
What laws in Israel do you think are most harmful to liberty?
They just passed a law that every citizen has to give their fingerprints. You have to have what they call a “biometrical ID.”
Would you say there are any politicians in America that you kind of like? Or any philosophies that some may have? Even past politicians too; Founding Fathers as well.
I’m not so much into American politicians. There are politicians that I like in America; I think America still has a very, very good base in what we call the common values that we share. When politicians talk about values that we share, they are definitely right.
I ask because you mention the Founding Fathers.
I don’t think the future of Israel depends on America. With all due respect, and I do have respect, Israel was established against the will of America; we have to remember that. The Six Day War started against the will of America. During the Yom Kippur war, there was kind of an American embargo. We have to stop the American aid. It’s bad for the Israeli economy, it’s bad for Israel’s security.
So you think for instance, in 2015 we gave $3.1 billion to Israel. So you think we should not give aid to Israel anymore?
Definitely. But you should know that it is an American interest. This so-called aid is much more of an American interest than an Israeli interest.
Do you want to expand on that a little bit?
I don’t want to sound like I’m anti-American. It’s not about that. Look, first of all, I think that defense industry in America, I believe it is the number one industry if I’m not wrong. In order to keep it going...I’ll explain it this way. When you go to a mall, and somebody is giving you a 10% free coupon, you can get it in my store and get everything 10% off with that coupon. Is he doing it because he loves you? Whose interest is it? Okay. Israel is getting money that it can spend only in America. And Israel could buy at least the same weapons all over the world, or manufacture it themselves but because we get the money, we buy in America. I’ll give an example: when Israel developed a unique anti-aircraft system that Poland wanted to buy for $5 billion or more, the Americans, because they gave some money for development, they were part of the development of that system. They were able to put a veto on the deal and then sell the exact same thing: buy from the Israeli the parts that they need and then sell it by themselves to the same customer. Here I am talking just from the economic side. From the military side, involvement of America in Israel’s interests and so on, a better example is the F-35. The F-35 is the biggest white elephant ever created in America. Now they are talking that it will probably be ready in eight years maybe. Trump already wants to shut off the whole thing. Israel already has the planes. Howcome? It was forced on us. All of the aid is over there. So a plane that is not good for America and is probably not good for us was forced on us just because other interests were involved here. Economic interests: interests not taking into account our best defense needs. Israel has a stronger economy than America. I’m not talking about bigger economy, but according to the amount of people here, the Israeli economy is much stronger than America. We sell to America, 33% more than what we buy from the Americans. We sell mostly high-tech that can be bought only here and we buy mostly weapons that we can buy all over the world, if we did not have this stability of what we call American aid. So our economy is in much better shape than the American economy. We really don’t need this 3%; even if we were poor it wouldn’t be worthwhile for us to keep. As I said, it is bad and we are better off without it and we can definitely today, when our economy is doing so well. Today is the right time to stop it.
But you still see the importance of having an alliance? Correct?
Of course. Having America on your side, having a relationship between two countries that have common interests and common values – of course, but it should be a relationship on the same level of two countries that respect and honor each other and not givers and takers.
So you mentioned President Trump. So I was just curious, what was the perception of him in Israel – specifically your party?
Look, first, I didn’t want to see Hillary Clinton continuing Obama and all of this extreme leftist so-called liberal concepts running the show. I mean, Obama really caused tremendous harm to the whole world. To America more than anywhere else, but also the entire world. And I think that victory of Trump represents a whole movement all over the world, back to the espousing the basic values of national identity and having values. I don’t think I need to talk about his minuses because there are enough people who do that better than I.
Today is has been rumored that President Trump will be in Israel on the 22nd of May. Do you think people will like that he will be here? What do you think the reception will be like?
There will be a few leftist organizations that will try to make a show out of it. I don’t take that seriously. But I have to tell you that I am afraid. I am afraid because that situation...look, I knew that from the very beginning, before he got into office, that the embassy is not going to move to Jerusalem. Not because Trump doesn’t want it, but because Bibi doesn’t want it. I wrote it and I said it everywhere. The problem we have in Israel is that we have either the left side of the map – which is a minority – and the right side of the map – Likud-led by Netanyahu that basically brings no real alternative to the two-state solution and the leftist concepts, and because the right in Israel can only define themselves by not being a leftist, by not saying what you actually offer, they pick up on the old root of Oslo and the two-state solution and negotiating with the so-called Palestinians and so on. If you are looking at Israeli history, you see, the Likud destroyed more settlements and gave more land than any leftist government ever. Since the time of Begin, when he gave away the whole Sinai and our biggest war hero Sharon, who gave away Gush Katif. Why? Because when the Likud is in power, there is no opposition. The left will not try to stop the right from giving away land and creating a terror state in the center of Israel. And I am very much afraid that Netanyahu will be able to manipulate Trump to some kind of a new peace plan that will bring both of them to the good side of the leftist media in both places. Here and there, Netanyahu could become the new Begin, who brings a peace process against extreme right-wingers and so on. Trump will be the president who was able to bring peace in the Middle East and shut off all the CNN reporters. That pressure on these two people scares me because both of them don’t really have an alternative like we have in Zehut.
So why would Netanyahu not want the embassy to move?
Why should he? If the embassy moves, he is going to have to deal with Arab riots. Saudi Arabia – now that we have a good relationship behind the table, we would be in trouble, and why the hell do we need the embassy, just a building, here instead of there? Netanyahu doesn’t have the sense of the meaning of that. Rather than be what you call practical, but there’s no practicality without values. Why do you create the state of Israel? It’s stupid to “stick clothes on Israel.” I mean you can take the land of Israel, close it up, and open it in New Jersey. I could be in Australia. Why do we need the Promised Land to begin with? There’s no strategic goal to get somewhere – to achieve a purpose, something that is bigger than the sum of its numbers. It’s not there, by the secular Zionist leadership. It’s about: let’s be normal, let’s be a nation, let’s be America. But we have an America, a big one. Why do we need another one in the Middle East? We represent values and these values start from Jerusalem. This is not the way Netanyahu thinks.
Are you in favor of the embassy moving, given your previous statements?
Of course. When I’ll be the Prime Minister (God willing) the embassy will be moved immediately. Not only the American.
I read also that you’re in favor of annexing the West Bank. So what would you recommend for the population to be more Jewish than Arab if that happens? What would happen to the Arabs that live there? I think you said there were three options…. The first option is you offer them money.
More than just money. You have to understand and realize some facts. The first one is the numbers. In Judea and Samaria, the number is 1.7 or 1.75 million Arabs. I’m not saying Palestinians because there is no Palestinian nation. (The name came from the Romans at the time, the Western world, and they picked it up.) However we’re talking about less than 300,000 families. Most of them express their wish to leave and many of them are leaving anyhow. The demographics are totally in favor of leaving Israel. Many Jewish women today, it’s a miracle, I can’t explain it...Here in Tel Aviv the average Israeli woman is the only woman on earth, east and west, who is having more children than her mother. It’s amazing. It’s God, don’t ask me to explain that. Tel Aviv is Western-minded just like in London, Paris, New York, it looks like Tel Aviv is closest to Western culture, so why are Israeli women having so many kids? I don’t know, maybe God is cooking something up. As far as demographics, they’re totally in favor of Jews. These are the numbers. They want to leave. We are paying a tremendous amount of money; since Oslo to today we threw over a trillion shekels, which means basically if we have a home for every young couple in Israel, we could build already on that.
So what if the Arabs want to stay?
There are three options: First: they could be offered what we call an immigration basket, they could sell their home without being killed by their own regime (according to their own leadership, selling a home to a Jew would be a death penalty). There are written laws, so if we annexed the land, they wouldn’t be afraid of doing this, and get all the help they need, not only with cash but also with finding a location they would want to go and relocate with the backing of a serious country behind them. I’m sure there are many countries that accept immigration and need immigration and would be very happy to get immigrants with some cash in their pockets backed by a serious country. They’re more educated people than many others in the Middle East. According to their own survey, 60-70% of them wish to leave, mostly the young generation. Second: Those who ask to stay could stay if they want to become permanent residents, so long as they don’t have association with terror. Third: they could become Israeli citizens; they could prove their loyalty by serving in the army, pass all the tests, and so on. They would have the chance to do so.
So would you say take down the security barrier? How would you control terrorism?
There was no security, barbed wire, before. You’d be surprised about the peace process. You’re very young but we had a great life before. No barbed wires, no guards in every coffee shop, nothing. By offering the three options, it would be the first time someone offered them the opportunity to decide what to do with themselves without forcing the choice on them.
You talk a lot about getting funding from outside sources. I read that you wanted to stop accepting funding from Christian organizations. You said, “but their goal is clear: to become citizens and convert us all, God forbid.”
We’re not taking money from Christian organizations. We do take individuals, but not organizations. Look, Judaism wants all Jews to accept the Torah, to accept what’s written. Christianity wants the whole world to accept Jesus, and that’s different. Also Islam, the difference between Christianity and Islam on one side, and Judaism on the other side, is the basic wish of the two big religions: Islam and Christianity are missionary religions in nature toward the whole world. Judaism is not like that. Because of that Israelis do not understand what they’re dealing with. When a religious Jew sees a nonreligious Jew, he would love to see him become religious, and keeping Shabbat and eating kosher and so on, but he doesn’t care at all how non-Jews behave. Behind money that comes from Christian organizations, there is always, by definition, a missionary agenda at a certain level. You can’t hide it. That’s what it is. And because we don’t want to be impacted by that, we’re not taking money from Christian organizations when we’re offered it, and we’re offered a lot of it. We do take from individuals. There is nothing about love or hate. It is about dealing with reality and understanding that reality.
What’s the plan for the future? This is a new political party. Are you going for elections?
Our goal remains the same goal for the last 23 years: to take over the leadership of Israel and to give Israeli society the leadership, freedom, sense of meaning, that is lacking from our culture and public life. To give the state of Israel a horizon of freedom and fulfill our historical goals as a Jewish nation, and fill our public life with a meaningful life, creating this special free Jewish culture that should be created. The People of the Book are coming back to the Promised Land. We should create a society that should be like that nation, to give humanity a good way of living in our modern time as individuals and as a nation. This is the reason why, in our opinion, the world needs the state of Israel, and not only the development of high tech and weapons, but also to fix the world for the kingdom of God.
How is it looking?
I think you can get a feeling of what we’re talking about right behind these doors. Most of the people here are young, intellectual, and nonreligious. It’s libertarian with a Jewish spirit. I’d say it’s the original libertarianism. The real libertarian concept comes from the understanding that the real freedom is the freedom of having only one King. When the human being thinks that he is the king, immediately others become slaves. We just got out of the Holocaust Day. It was not the first time that a dictator decided to kill all the Jews. We started with Pharaoh in Egypt; it continued with Ahasuerus and the Persians in the time of Esther, all the way up to Hitler of course, and Stalin, who did exactly the same, he was ready to continue exactly the same course of action. Why do all these dictators who believe they are going to take over the whole world come to the conclusion that they have to kill all the Jews? The reason is that the Jew can never become his slave. He already has a master. He already has a King. And our King is God and only God. And that’s why those dictators have to kill the Jews because the Jew will always stand in front of tyranny. The Jew represents the power above those dictators. That message of freedom comes from belief, comes from values, comes from our miraculous existence through all generations pointing to the fact that there is God. This is what the state of Israel should be proud to represent, and it’s run away from that.
What was your opinion on the strike in Syria?
I was very happy about it. I am sad that Israel did not do it before and had to wait for Trump to come and do it.
Why do you think Israel should have done it?
Because we have responsibility. We are the original superpower of the region, and because we are running away from our identity we don’t realize that we are the solution.