Moshe Feiglin

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Moshe Feiglin
Born 1962
Haifa, Israel
Residence Karnei Shomron
Nationality Israeli
Occupation Leader of Manhigut Yehudit

Moshe Zalman Feiglin (Hebrew משה פייגלין, born 1962) is an Israeli politician, head of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the Likud party in Israel. Widely quoted in Israeli media, Feiglin is considered a political hardliner with a unique political perspective that emphasizes policies that reflect Israel's Jewish identity. He is the Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset.

In 1993, Moshe Feiglin co-founded the Zo Artzeinu ("This [is] our Land/Country") movement with Shmuel Sackett to protest the Oslo Accords. On August 8, 1995, 80 intersections were blocked throughout the country in a massive act of civil disobedience against the Oslo process. As a result of his activities, Feiglin was sentenced to six months in prison in 1997 for sedition against the state by Israel's Supreme Court. The sentence was later commuted to community service.[1]

In November 1996, Moshe Feiglin established the Manhigut Yehudit movement to foster Jewish leadership for Israel. In 2000, the movement joined Israel's Likud party as a faction dedicated to the same goal. Feiglin declared that he would be a candidate for chairmanship of the party as a springboard for premiership of the State of Israel.

During the 2014 Gaza War, he called for what has been interpreted as ethnic cleansing and concentration camps and made remarks such as "annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters".[2][3]


Personal life

Feiglin was born in Haifa in 1962. His family later moved to Rehovot, where he attended the local Tachkemoni school (of the Mizrachi movement), and subsequently graduated from Rabbi Haim Drukman's yeshiva, Or Etzion, and served as a major in a combat unit in the IDF. He is the author of the books Where There Are No Men, and War of Dreams, has a column in both the Ma'ariv and Makor Rishon daily newspapers, and appears frequently on international TV and radio. He writes columns regularly for the Brooklyn-based Jewish Press as well. Moshe and his wife Tzippy have five children and three grandchildren. They live in the Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron, in the Samaria region of the West Bank.

Feiglin is an avid mountain biker, riding most mornings in the Samarian hills just outside his town. He is fluent in American English.

Army service

Feiglin enlisted in the Israeli army for the full mandatory three-year term, despite the fact that the commonly accepted enlistment path among religiously observant Israelis is through the Hesder program, which allows those Israelis who wish to do so to pursue religious studies for a year and a half at an approved Yeshiva and have that time deducted from their mandatory service. Feiglin was the only member of his division to volunteer for and be placed in the Combat Engineering Corps. He later signed on to one additional year as a career soldier and attained the rank of Captain. He fought in the first Lebanon War of 1982.

Manhigut Yehudit

Moshe Feiglin at Manhigut Yehudit meeting, Jerusalem, March 1, 2009
Main article: Manhigut Yehudit

Feiglin is the co-founder and president of the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction in the Israeli Likud party.[4] Manhigut Yehudit began as a brainchild of Feiglin and a friend of his, Moti Karpel, who began the movement as the continuation of the Zo Artzeinu protest movement. The main tactical difference between the two in Feiglin's thought is that Zo Artzeinu protested government policy without suggesting an alternative, whereas Manhigut Yehudit seeks to become the government and be the alternative.

Manhigut Yehudit as an initiative was first proposed by Feiglin and Karpel, coincidentally, on the night of Yitzchak Rabin's assassination in November 1995. Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu's surprise defeat of Labor's Shimon Peres the following year on the heels of Zo Artzeinu's protests had, in Feiglin's mind, given the Oslo Accords the Israeli Right's sanction when Netanyahu shook Yasser Arafat's hand and continued the Oslo Process, giving the Israeli voter no real alternative to Oslo besides slight tactical differences toward its eventual fruition. It was at this realization that Feiglin decided to enter politics in order to formulate that alternative himself by running for the Prime Ministership directly.

Lacking the tools to do this and absent a political party with which to stake his run, he was approached by a founding member of the Likud party and participant in the Zo Artzeinu protests who proposed that Feiglin register for the Likud party and register, in turn, the thousands who participated in the protests, thereby building a support base for himself in the party and running for the party leadership, thereby attaining Prime Ministerial candidacy.[5] At present, Feiglin has an estimated 12,000-15,000 loyalists in the party, making Manhigut Yehudit the largest consolidated faction in the Likud's approximately 100,000 strong party membership.

According to Feiglin's own words, Manhigut Yehudit was started to "return the country to the people and lead the State of Israel through authentic Jewish values". The movement believes Israelis deserve a chance to learn about their historical and spiritual past and that Jewish values should be taught in the nation's schools. The movement has challenged the hegemony of Israel's secular elite, demands free speech and open airwaves for all sectors of the Israeli public, and wants to break the monopoly the state has on radio and television broadcasts. Feiglin has demanded that Israeli schools stop teaching the Arab view of the history of Israel, such as describing the creation of the State of Israel as a disaster (nakba in Arabic). He also has spoken out against Israel's undemocratically chosen Supreme Court and called for its members to be selected by representatives of the people.

Feiglin says that the movement’s leadership will arise from "those who have a deep commitment to Torah values." Still, 30 percent of its present members are secular (2005). He opposes the surrender of what he regards as Jewish land, and has demanded the government take action against the estimated 50,000 illegal Arab structures built throughout the country. Feiglin has stated that Likud had "given up true Likud values and acquiesced in the Gaza evacuation."[6]

Feiglin has been on public record supporting the willful transfer of Arab citizens of Israel who do not accept Jewish sovereignty over the state. This emigration would be encouraged with financial incentives.

Although some of Feiglin's opponents have described him as a latter-day version of Rabbi Meir Kahane, he has stated on several occasions that he disagrees with many of Kahane's policies.[7] While Manhigut's co-founder, Shmuel Sackett, had close ties with Rabbis Meir and Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane, there is little evidence directly connecting Feiglin with Kahane, although there are several ideological similarities between them, such as supporting "induced emigration", developing a legal system more consistent with Halakha, and restricting Israeli citizenship to Jews.[8] In 2005, Feiglin took this idea a step further and suggested that all Jews who wished to be citizens of Israel, regardless of where they lived, should be given full citizenship and voting rights.[9] Feiglin and Sackett are distinguished most from traditional Kahanism through their commitment to nonviolent protest. Kahanism is often associated with militancy and a tacit acceptance of, if not outright support for, violence. Conversely, Feiglin and Sackett are also attacked in some right-wing Religious Zionist circles (including Kahane supporters) for selling out to the Likud.

Several left-wing commentators have depicted Feiglin as fascist,[10][11][12] but for his part, Feiglin rejects this label, claiming that he is fighting fascism himself.[13][14][15][16]

Political positions

Feiglin's politics are very different in a fundamental sense from most Israeli politicians currently serving in Israel's elected institutions, past or present. Whereas the stated goal of Israeli leaders since the founding of the State has been an end to the Jewish-Arab conflict with different means of attaining that goal considered between the country's respective right and left wing leaders, Feiglin has openly stated that, though he is not opposed to peace, peace is not his goal,[17] and would not be on the top of his agenda as Prime Minister. Rather, Feiglin's focus is on reforming Israel as an essentially Jewish State by acting on several campaigns on the religious, social, legal, and security fronts.

Religious front

Feiglin is against religious coercion, and is even against the establishment of religious political parties. He has come out against religious legislation such as the Chametz Law, which forbids selling leavened products on the Passover Holiday, when eating or owning leavened food products is prohibited by Jewish religious law.[18]

He is also a proponent of the civil marriage initiative in Israel which would allow any Israeli citizen to marry without the auspices of a religious cleric.[19] At present, marriage in Israel is impossible outside the confines of a religious system; hence for tens of thousands of people with problematic religious status it is impossible ever to get married in the country. The present system also places the power of divorce in the hand of the Rabbinic courts, who are unanswerable to any government authority. The civil marriage initiative would make the religious nature of marriage entirely voluntary, effectively separating church and state in this matter.

Feiglin in the Likud

In December 2005, Feiglin ran for Likud chairman and won 12.5% of the votes. He came in third out of seven candidates, after Benjamin Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom. He attempted to run for a slot on the party's Knesset list, but encountered severe opposition from Netanyahu, who delayed party elections and advocated making changes to its charter to bar "anyone who has served three or more months in prison" from running as a Likud MK. This would have prevented Feiglin, who served a six-month sentence in the mid-90s for civil disobedience, from running for either an MK or leadership position in the future. Feiglin withdrew from the race on January 3, 2006, following the release of a statement from the Likud party election chairman declaring, in agreement with a prior decision by the Israeli High Court, that Feiglin's conviction was not for "dishonorable" violations of the law, allowing him to participate in future Likud affairs.[20]

In the August 14, 2007 primaries, Feiglin nearly doubled his previous showing and received 23.4 percent of the votes to Netanyahu's 72.8 percent. Netanyahu, fearing a strong showing by Feiglin, tried to have him ousted from the party prior to the vote, and has said he will continue such efforts.[21] On December 10, 2008 Feiglin was voted to the 20th place in Likud primaries.[22] On December 11, following a petition submitted against him by Ophir Ekonis, he was demoted to the 36th spot.[23]

Moshe Feiglin ran against Netanyahu for the 2012 Likud leadership election held on January 31 and again received 23% of the vote.[24]

Peace plan

Feiglin has proposed a plan to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.[25] His plan would include annexing the Palestinian territories after using much of the internal military budget projected for the next 10 years to offer every Palestinian family in these areas $250,000 as an incentive to emigrate to other countries.[26] Feiglin pointed to a poll by An-Najah University in Nablus, which showed that one in three Palestinian Arabs would emigrate to other countries even without a financial incentive,[27][28] as supporting his plan. Feglin also proposed that Israel actively encourage Israeli-Arabs to emigrate to the Arab world, and provide assistance to any Arab who chooses to do so.

Controversy and criticism

Comments on Arabs

Of Israeli Arabs, Feiglin said, "They will have to seek the right to self-determination in Arab states. Israel will encourage the Arabs to emigrate to their countries and assist any Arab who wishes to do so," Feiglin was quoted as saying.[1] He insisted there is no such thing as a Palestinian people and that they and Israeli Arabs should relocate, citing a text he had posted on the website of his Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") movement. In a 2004 interview with Yedioth Ahronoth he spoke of "a voluntary transfer to the 22 neighbouring Arab states" of the some 1.4 million Israeli Arabs, who make up 20 percent of Israel's population. "Arabs don't live in the desert, they create it," he was quoted as saying.[1]

"The Arabs engage in typical Amalek behaviour. I can't prove this genetically but this is the behaviour of Amalek."[29]
"We shall offer them human rights without civil rights, so long as they prove their loyalty to their Jewish state host and accept Jewish sovereignty over their land. In such a situation they will be given legal-resident status and they can carry on their private affairs without anyone infringing on their human rights."[30]

Controversy over Hitler comments

In an article in Ha'aretz, Yossi Sarid quoted Feiglin as saying, "Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. National Socialism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status. The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order. Hitler savored good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs. They merely used thugs and homosexuals." Feiglin clarified his position to the Maariv newspaper that just because he considers Hitler a military genius this does not mean he admires him.[1] In an interview on Israeli television Feiglin accused Sarid and other left-wing journalists of a smear campaign against him by quoting him out of context. He explained his point as saying that just because Germany was a democracy does not give legitimacy to what Hitler had done.[31]

Banned from Britain

Feiglin is banned from entering the United Kingdom due to a decision by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, made public in March 2008, excluding Feiglin on the grounds that his presence in the country "would not be conducive to the public good."[32] A letter to Feiglin from the Home Office said that Smith based her decision on an assessment that his activities "foment or justify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts and foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK."[33][34] Feiglin responded, "Seeing that renowned terrorists like Hizbullah member Ibrahim Mousawi are welcomed in your country in open arms, I understand that your policy is aimed at encouraging and supporting terror."[35]

Resistance to Oslo Accords

Feiglin was arrested for organizing mass acts of resistance and blocked highways across Israel during the period in which the Oslo accords were debated and implemented.[36] Feiglin was charged with "break[ing] the barrier of obedience to the rule of law" and incitement to commit crimes. Regarding his organization of peaceful demonstrations and the blocking of intersections without a permit, Feiglin was quoted as stating, "We will do all that it's possible to do, including break the law."[37] He was sentenced to six months in prison in 1997 for sedition, and the sentence was later performed via community service.

Reaction from Likud members

Relations between Feiglin and his fellow Likud members have been mixed. Likud Knesset member Limor Livnat stated that Feiglin and his friends are "not real Likudniks" and that his faction "cannot be allowed to prevail."[38] In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Livnat explained that Feiglin and his faction must be prevented "from taking over, or the party and the state will be in danger," adding, that "this is not democracy, this is anarchy."[38]

Despite criticism from fellow Likud members, Feiglin has displayed favorable relations with a significant number of former Likud Knesset members. This was manifest during a Feiglin rally at Jerusalem's Ramada Hotel that took place before the 2008 Likud primary after Feiglin promised to throw all his votes to them if they showed up. Former Likud Knesset members Gila Gamliel, David Mena, Daniel Benlulu and Ayoub Kara attended the event despite warnings from Netanyahu's advisers not to do so. Gila Gamliel, who did not vote against the Disengagement from Gaza, eventually took Feiglin's votes and placed 19th, one spot ahead of Feiglin. This ultimately resulted in Feiglin getting pushed down to the 36th spot and out of the Knesset.[39]

Support for Jonathan Pollard

Feiglin is a highly vocal supporter of Jonathan Pollard, a former American naval intelligence analyst who is currently serving a life sentence in the American Federal prison system for spying for Israel. Feiglin, who has called Pollard a hero,[40] has written a number of articles in support of Pollard. In a recent article, Feiglin stated that "Pollard is a Jew who saved the Israelis from American treachery."[41]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Anti-Arab hopeful irks Israel's Netanyahu, AFP December 11, 2008
  4. The far-right rises in Israeli politics Christian Science Monitor, 10 December 2008
  5. Feiglin, Moshe.מלחמת החלומות, Manhigut Yehudit: 2005, pp. 378-382.
  6. Likud Leans Farther To Right IsraCast, 9 December 2008
  7. Potent bid to thwart Gaza pullout
  8. New Yorker article Among the Settlers Will they destroy Israel? by Jeffrey Goldberg
  9. "Jews Worldwide Should Be Granted Israeli Citizenship"
  10. Ha'aretz 10 December 2008 Yossi Sarid / Feiglin, his cronies are fascists by any definition by Yossi Sarid
  11. ME Times Fears of Fascism as Israeli Extremists Prepare to Take Elections by Mel Frykberg
  12. al-Ahram Heil, Feiglin! by Khaled Amayreh
  13. "They call me a fascist, but simultaneously attack me for supporting conscientious objection. Fascism is the belief that the state is above all else. But I claim that G-d or one's conscience is above the state. How can the Left attack me for both fascism and for supporting conscientious objection at one and the same time?" [1]
  14. "The law is nothing more than a tool in the service of justice. When the tool becomes the goal, it turns into fascism, a dangerous version of idolatry. In no time, it is adopted by base forces and destruction will necessarily follow." [2]
  15. "Nationalism without faith in God does not last here. Either it deteriorates into something reminiscent of fascism or it swings to the other extreme and sheds all its achievements, Sharon-style." [3]
  16. "Whoever thinks that the state is the supreme value edges uncomfortably close to fascism." [4]
  17., time index 2:10
  20. Haaretz Daily
  21. Jerusalem Post, August 16, 2007
  22. "Likud primary results for February 10th national elections". Haaretz. 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  23. Meranda, Amnon (2008-12-11). "Feiglin dropped to 36th spot on roster". Ynetnews.,7340,L-3637281,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
  24. "Likud MKs fear Feiglin will drive centrist voters away". Haaretz. February 2, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012. 
  25. "Pay Gazans to leave, right-wing leader says", in the Canadian Jewish News, 3 April 2008. By Sheri Shefa Note that the article mistranslates "Yesha", an acronym for Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as merely Gaza. Feiglin's proposal was for all three of these regions.
  26. Ha'aretz Feiglin: Israel should pay Palestinians to quit West Bank By Yair Ettinger "They want to emigrate," he said [Feiglin]. "There are certainly countries who want to take them in," he said [Feiglin].
  27. "Palestinian emigration soars". Television New Zealand. Reuters. 22 November 2006. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  28. The secret Exodus -- Palestinian Emigration
  29. Elliott S. Horowitz (2006) Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691124914 p 1 Jeffrey Goldberg reported in the New Yorker about a series of disturbIing interviews he had recently conducted with Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.
  30. Ha'aretz Feiglin's missing manifesto: Israel should quit UN, cut off water to Palestinians By Yair Ettinger
  31. Moshe Feiglin's response to the accusation that he admires Hitler (Hebrew)
  32. Jerusalem Post, March 9, 2008
  33. Home Secretary's Letter
  34. Ha'aretz Britain bans Likud's Moshe Feiglin from entering country By Nadav Shragai
  35. Feiglin banned from entering UK - ynetnews March 10, 2008
  36. Assassin Hints a Bodyguard Helped Him Kill Rabin
  37. Israeli Police Put Down Rightist Protest Against Pact with PLO
  38. 38.0 38.1 Livnat: Criminals are trying to take over Likud
  39. 158 Likud candidates to run for Knesset
  40. Gedolim in Israel and the US Ask President Bush to Free Pollard before Pesach: And, after 22 Years, They Think He’ll Do It
  41. Hug for a Betrayed Brother

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