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Feiglinism and Its Discontents

Moshe Feiglin, interviewed here at YNet, is a rightwing activist working hard to bring theocracy to Israel through his bid to take the leadership of the Likud Party. His Jewish Leadership movement has thus far failed to come even close … Read More

By / July 25, 2007

Moshe Feiglin, interviewed here at YNet, is a rightwing activist working hard to bring theocracy to Israel through his bid to take the leadership of the Likud Party. His Jewish Leadership movement has thus far failed to come even close to dislodging Benjamin Netanyahu (who is, after all, heir to one of the first families of Revisionism) but he represents a serious minority which deserves some listening to, if only because of the degree to which such fringe movements manage to underline certain discontents which are often very real. Most notably, Feiglin does sound a true note when he talks about the dangers of Netanyahu's economic policies:

I don’t want to talk about what [Netanyahu is] not, but about what I am. Enough looking at slogans on the side of buses. Netanyahu’s slogan is ‘Israel decides to succeed’. My slogan is ‘Because it has G-d’.

Bibi’s slogan is business, high-tech and such. I’m all for it, but my slogan comes from a very different direction. That says it all. Material success can be achieved anywhere in the world.

Feiglin claims that he wants to bring "spirit" back to Israeli governance. For him, this means religion. Nonetheless, he does have something of a point. Turning Israel into just another cog in the machine of global capitalism may help prosperity in the short term, but in the long term it is a serious threat to Zionism itself. For better or worse, Zionism is not a materialist ideology. No one ever made aliyah to get rich and, while Israel has its wealthy class, it has nothing like the plutocracy of the United States or Europe.

If the only arbiter of success is financial, there will be little reason to waste one's time on, say, the Hebrew language, a tongue which can hardly be of much use in a world whose language of global commerce is English. Like it or not, Zionism is about things which have little or no value in a world whose sole interest is production and consumption of goods. Indeed, it's somewhat surprising that the most ostensibly Zionist of Israel's mainstream politicians — Netanyahu himself — does not seem to understand the inherent contradiction between his nationalist ideals and his advocacy of Israel's total privatization.

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