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December 13, 2008: The Bottom Line

December 13, 2008

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

With a nod to all those who wrote with comments, I must return to the Likud political struggle. For it is not simply a struggle between two political rivals, but, rather, between two different ways of handling matters. And it has many ramifications for our nation.

I begin by saying that I’m convinced: As I discussed this further yesterday with the same Likud-allied lawyer I had spoken with before, I was able to see that the technical issue was real. It had been said by Likud powers-that-be that national candidates would fill only the first 19 slots. Then the next several slots were to be filled by “special” candidates — women, people elected in specific districts (the largest number in the special categories), immigrants — and additional nationally elected persons following this at the lower numbers of the list.


When, as I explained before, three women — who could have filled slots reserved for women — ended up securing slots as national candidates, the women’s slots were left vacant. Then, whoever made the decision in posting the list (not clear who was responsible for this) simply moved up national candidates into those spots. The challenge to this by Ofir Akunis (who stands to benefit from the changes) maintained that district-elected persons should have properly filled those slots, with national candidates moved down. The internal district court agreed.

Feiglin, who was number 20, will be moved down to 35 or 36. But it’s worth noting that two of his allies — Sagiv Asulin and Boaz HaEtzni — will be moved up three slots because they’re district candidates, as will his supporter Keti Sheetrit.

At least a couple of good guys, so called “rebels,” who were anti-disengagement, but who are not Feiglin allied — Michael Ratzon and Ehud Yatom — were also moved down because they were in women’s slots. (Yatom, by the way, intends to appeal his movement down on the list.) But allies of Netanyahu who had been close to the bottom of the list — Assaf Heifetz and Yechiel Leiter — were not moved up.

So, it certainly seems there was a logic to the rearrangement of the list. It was not simply a vendetta against Feiglin and his people or a slick way to advance Netanyahu candidates.


Does this mean there was not some intention within the Netanyahu camp of shifting Feiglin, specifically, down by making this appeal (by a Netanyahu confidant)? I cannot say for certain, but that intention sure looks like a possibility. Certainly there was gladness that he was moved down.

Was it a smart move? My feeling is that it probably was not. A good number of people are seeing Netanyahu as “slick” because of this, and perhaps impressions, whether accurate or not, must be taken into consideration. Voter trust is of great importance in our country right now.


But what I want to focus on here is the difference in the perspectives of Feiglin and Netanyahu.

Feiglin is an ideologue and a purist. He believes not only that the Land is ours, but that we must recapture as a people a sense of our entitlement. His followers adore him for how he speaks out on these matters.

Netanyahu is a pragmatist, seeking to secure what is possible. This requires not only compromise but also an avoidance of the purist, ideological stance of someone like Feiglin.

The argument is made by Netanyahu’s supporters that the people of this nation are not where Feiglin is, and his stance would not reverberate with the majority. I, sadly, would agree. A party led by Feiglin would have meager electoral support. At the very least we need years of education to bring our people back to being clear about who we are and what are rights are. The mentality of Oslo and ensuing governments that have promoted the Palestinian viewpoint instead of our own have distorted the public’s perceptions. There is some sense that the Palestinians once “had” the land (they didn’t) or that it somehow, beyond the Green Line, “belongs” to them (it doesn’t) or that they “deserve” it (they don’t).


For someone who cares passionately about this Land as Jewish heritage, the Netanyahu pragmatics can be hard to deal with. But at the end of the day, this approach is likely the most solid and most able to achieve necessary goals.

The goals? To take power from the left wing — from Labor and Kadima — which has promoted giving away the Land and even dividing Jerusalem, Which has made concessions again and again that were not in Israel’s favor and has refused to properly defend the people of the State.

Take away their power and consign them to the political junk heap as failed.


And it is Netanyahu’s approach that stands the best chance of achieving this. His intention — which precludes a major role for Feiglin — is to build a party that is broad-based enough to appeal to the majority of the voters. He is looking for a big win.

Towards that end, he makes centrist statements that have the capacity to unsettle those of us who are strong on who we are and what we stand for. Yes, he now says, he will continue to negotiate with the PA.

But, as I pointed out before, he hedges it even as he says it. He would begin with security issues. A Palestinian state, he declares, would have to be demilitarized, and without the ability to forge military or defensive alliances. Israel would have to retain land in the Jordan Valley and maintain control of Palestinian airspace and electromagnetic space (radio and TV transmissions), as well of all entry of persons and cargo. He also says the situation in Gaza is unacceptable and that Israel cannot accept an Iranian base there. All this in addition to keeping Jerusalem undivided.

A recipe for going nowhere in the negotiations. But done diplomatically. Without polemics or ideological statements.

He’ll have less pressure from the international community, because he will be “trying his best” to deal with the Palestinians instead of turning his back to them. But at the end of the day, if he holds strong, he can throw up his hands and tell the world how hard he tried and how impossible it was to negotiate.

If he does it properly, his administration’s negotiations would represent a huge departure from the horrendous Annapolis model to date — he would actually be demanding what Israel needs instead of turning himself into a pretzel trying to figure out how to make Abbas (or his successor) and Fayyad happy and give away more of our rights.


I will continue to track this, but hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll turn to other issues…




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