Who Moved Feiglin's Cheese

"Who Moved My Cheese" was a great title of a book which addressed appropriate responses to changing circumstances. The 'star' mouse character keeps going back to the same place, even though there's now no cheese there. The book's subtitle is: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life.

When Moshe Feiglin initiated and led Zoh Artzeinu, in the early 1990's, in response to The Oslo "Peace" Process – I was still dewy eyed about the hopes for peace in our time in the Middle East. So I reckoned he was a rabble rousing extremist.

When the Oslo spell wore off me, I gained respect for Feiglin as the man who had broken the party political mold and galvanized popular opposition to the Rabin/Peres Government. Taking his lead from other protest movements (Mahatma Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King in the USA) Zoh Artzeinu used non-violent Civil Disobedience, such as road blockings, to effect disproportionate disruption, and media attention.

I followed Feiglin's logic, when he observed that the ONLY political position in Israel which holds real power, is that of the Prime Minister. And therefore the National Religious "leaders" (then Mafdal) would always be either followers, or obstacles, to the Government – but never national leaders.

Feiglin also observed that Israel's two (major) party system meant that the Prime Minister would always be the leader of either the Labour Party, or Likud.

So, if a National Religious agenda were ever to succeed, a suitable candidate would need to get into the Labour leadership position (unlikely) or the Likud leadership position.

Focusing on the latter, Feiglin endeavoured to flood the Likud Party Membership with his supporters (under the brand name "Manhigut Yehudit", founded in 1998), essentially to hijack the Likud Party Membership and Central Committee, and so install Feiglin as the Likud Party Leader.

Which would put him just a hop-skip-and-jump from achieving the goal of being Prime Minister of Israel.

I understood the logic, and literally bought into the program.

A hundred shekels or so later, I was a Member of the Likud Party, and made sure to diligently vote for whoever Manhigut Yehudit told me to.

The problem was, in 2005, Ariel Sharon abandoned his own Likud Party (which had voted against the "Disengagement" evacuation of Gush Katif) and, in a radical political move, established the entirely new party of Kadima.

When Kadima won the 2006 election under Ehud Olmert, and then became the largest party in the 2009 elections, it became clear that Israel is now a Three Party system – not two.

At that point, I reckoned that Moshe Feiglin's logic no longer made sense.

So, let's imagine Feiglin succeeds in capturing the majority of the Members, the majority of the Central Committee, and even getting elected as the Likud Leader. (That's a series of major "ifs").

In the next elections, the traditional Likud voters, would, in my opinion, simply transfer their allegiance from Likud to Kadima. Where the majority of voters, members and Knesset members are also ex-Likudniks. Leaving Likud with just say 5-10 seats in the Knesset.

Likud would become a marginal party, with a once great history.

Probably around the same size as Mafdal (now known as Jewish Home – Bayit Hayehudi) with National Union (Ichud Haleumi).

Thus, I see Moshe Feiglin's road-map has unraveled – and his continuing efforts to take over Likud as a waste of his personal talents and vision.

I respectfully recommend that Moshe Feiglin should read: "Who Moved My Cheese".


  1. Perhaps you are right, or perhaps not, God Willing, you are wrong.

  2. hmmmmmmm... an interesting analysis, but what you don't take into account is what will happen to Kadima and Labor in the next few years.

    Kadima appears to have an identity crisis, trying to figure out what it is supposed to be when it grows up. There is still every chance that Kadima will implode like so many other flash-in-the-pan parties on both the left and the right like Tzomet, Shinui, 3rd Way, etc.

    Labor might very well come back swinging with a new leader, a new direction and a strong social agenda.

    In short, while Feiglin might currently be stuck without a place to go (I think your current analysis of his problem is spot-on) he might be in a better position after the next election...

    Never a dull moment in these here parts!

  3. BTW, what I forgot to mention is that every real Likudnik recognizes Feiglin for what he wants to do, and I don't believe for a moment that they'll let him hijack the party. He doesn't truly represent the Likud party line, he's too right wing/religious. The Likudnikim will tear him apart one way or another if he presents a serious threat to the party.

    David, don't hold your breath, Feiglin will never be the PM.

    Beware the Likud Central Committee!

  4. If Feiglin would win, which he won't, BiBi would leave the likud and start a new party with Barak

  5. Anon2: If Feiglin would win, Bibi would join Kadima.
    Neither will probably happen.

    I agree with Joel - Kadima is bust. I expect them to disappear within one or two elections.

  6. I didn't vote for Feiglin because I want or expect him to be Prime Minister. I voted for him because I want his influence to act as "brakes" on Netanyahu.

  7. The premise of this analysis is that Feiglin endeavors to become prime-minister, and that the strategy and means of getting there is through gaining control of the Likud leadership.

    However, this analysis fails to read correctly the Israeli political map for the following reasons:

    a. Feiglin is well aware that given his political agenda and the current political climate, he stands no chance of being elected prime minister.

    b. furthermore, he hardly deludes himself that he will gain control of the Likud party.

    His constituency consists of guys who, like himself, identify very little with Likud values. They are there so as to skew the party's primaries statistics rightwards - but most probably will vote to a different party on actual elections.

  8. Anonymous: "Feiglin is well aware that given his political agenda and the current political climate, he stands no chance of being elected prime minister."

    It's a bit disengenious to suggest that Moshe Feiglin is bright enough not to believe his own mission statement:

    "Our aim is to register thousands of believing members in the Likud - the ruling party of the National Camp - and to elect a party leader who will be motivated by Jewish ideals and values. As the Likud's candidate for Prime Minister, this candidate would be the natural leader of the national camp and would be elected as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel."

    And, if Feiglin's sole purpose now is to be a thorn in Bibi's side, then one can more effectively do that as a separate party in the right wing coalition (like Leiberman does).

    1. Feiglin's purpose is to bring the Likud back to itself. The party's platform has never been changed, and it still declares as a party goal to settle the ENTIRE land of Israel, as well as rejection of the idea of a Palestinian state, among other things. It is Bibi and all the other "princes" who have "hijacked" the party of the Right by shoving it to the left out of fear of "world opinion" and its obeisance to Arab oil and swallowing of masterful Arab propaganda over the last 40 years. The vast majority of Likud voters would not vote Kadima if a more right-wing candidate would head the party because they happen to be more right-wing than their current leaders. More in tune with Feiglin's philosophy, in fact, than even they know.
      Indeed, a major purpose between elections for the entire right wing of the party (not only MY) is to "be a thorn in Bibi's side", because otherwise he loses his backbone, as he did with the 10-month freeze. Why do you think there wasn't another freeze, as Obama wanted? Because Bibi was pushed from inside his own party -- not because of the efforts of the(extraordinarily admirable) National Union or even the lukewarm attempts by his coalition partner Lieberman. I completely disagree that one can be more effective as a separate party.
      The more real right wingers there are in the party, the more power they'll have in the primaries to give high rankings to wannabe MKs who promise to represent the LIkud as it once was -- and then it will be easy for MY members like me to vote Likud.
      David, you seem to say that if there are 3 big parties instead of 2, Feiglin's logic of how to control Likud doesn't work. I don't follow your argument. First, I believe Kadima will implode very soon, because they have no ideology except "get elected". And Labor has already fallen to single digits in seats. The Likud is the party to beat, folks. And Feiglin's power in the party is only growing - to the Likud's benefit, IMO, as to Eretz Yisrael.

  9. Is anyone bothered by the real underhandedness of this campaign? If Yossi Sarid decided that he wanted to take over Mafdal by registering thousands of his supporters, running in a primary, and effectively destroying the party, Mafdal voters would be outraged at the attempt to use the achilles heel of the electoral system in order to undermine a democratic party. As I see it, Feiglin is doing the exact same thing. Shame on him and on his supporters; the ends (which I disagree with anyway) don't justify the means.

  10. The Likud has always been a right wing party committed to all of the land of Israel.

    Why was it OK for left wingers to run for leadership and take over the party and push their agenda but not the right.

    Traditional Likud voters will not support a leftist party like Kadima. Kadima fights with Labor and Meretz for seats. Feiglin would increase Likuds votes and voters on the right would finally feel they have a party that will stand up for its beliefs

  11. It can be argued that many ofr the Likud leaders, particularly the "nesichim" have NO ideological connection with their Jabotinskian roots. Jabotinsky was not religious at all, but he had the greatest respect for his religious Betarim, and never saw any conflict between their values and his own.

    True Likud values are the values of Jabotinskian Revisionism, not whatever the party powwr boys happen to find expedient this year. It's similar to the way so many non-halachic Jews claim that since they're Jewish, Judaism means whatever *they* like.

  12. Jabotinsky himself often disagreed with Abba Achimeir, who claimed, "The only thing right of me is the wall". Nevertheless, Jabo claimed that there was plenty of room within the movement for both of them.

    There is, or should be, room within the Likud for Manhigut Yehudit. Otherwise, the Likud would have to remain a small faction, not a major party. The Likud has to be a "big tent".

    Netanyahu is not behaving in the spirit of Revisionism nor in the interests of the Right, nor of Eretz Yisrael in attempting to "purge" the Feiglin faction. We are not, after all, a bunch of Bolshevik party hacks.

    I've been a Likudnik for *years*, and I've actually studied Jabotinsky. Likud authenticity is not passed on like lineage in the royal family.

  13. Scott,. your analogy with Sarid running in Mafdal is incorrect. Sarid has no commonality with Mafdal values and that would be a pure hijack of a party to turn into something that bears no resemblance of what the party stands for.

    Not so with Feiglin. His values are in line with Likud's (or what they were historically). I don't view this as a hijack in the way you describe. If Feiglin were trying to do this in Labour, you'd be right.

    1. Wanna Saab - The key line in what you said is, "or what they were historically." Even if that were true - and it's absolutely not, as Likud never advocated working primarily with Torah values, which is perhaps the overriding centerpiece of Feiglin's program - it remains irrelevant. What matters is what the Likud is today. The American Democratic party "historically" was pro-slavery. If someone tried to take over the Demoncratic Party today with a pro-slavery platform based on the claim that, "My values are in line with the Democratic Party, or what they were historically," he would be rightly considered a pariah.
      I am obviously not chas v'shalom comparing slavery with Feiglin's program. I am saying that his values are not in line with current Likud values - and that is all that matters.


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