New clout draws ministers to Feiglin wedding

Eight Likud ministers and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin attend the Likud activist's son's wedding, showing growing influence.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
May 15, 2012 20:28
2 minute read.
Moshe Feiglin.

Moshe Feiglin 311 . (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Ahead of the last two general elections, in 2006 and 2009, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took every political and legal step possible to prevent Likud activist Moshe Feiglin and his closest political allies from entering the Knesset.

When two top Likud MKs were on their way to an event hosted by Feiglin in 2007, Netanyahu’s office called and threatened them, and the lawmakers made a U-turn and went home.

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But five years later, Feiglin has entered the Likud mainstream.

Netanyahu’s advisers said that had the party held an election for its Knesset candidate’s slate next month as had been planned before early elections were canceled, the prime minister intended to ignore Feiglin this time.

In the ultimate sign that Feiglin is no longer considered controversial, no fewer than eight Likud ministers as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin attended the wedding of Feiglin’s son Aryeh and his bride, Todayah, in Bnei Brak on Sunday.

Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein, and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat all attended to honor Feiglin.

Livnat was the most surprising attendee because she had vocally bashed Feiglin in the past. Even Netanyahu reached out to Feiglin last month, calling him to express condolences when Feiglin’s father died.

“No one questions our allegiance to the Likud anymore,” Feiglin said. “Everyone sees that it is much more natural that the national camp in the Likud decides races in the party than non-Zionist Arab voters making the difference in Kadima and Labor.”

Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon said he was saddened by the ministers attending the wedding.

He said they instead should have sent him a message that his politics were unwelcome in Likud.

“This is the new face of the Likud: Feiglin and Sons, Ltd,” Ben-Simon said.

“In the past few years his impact has been so dominant that in another decade his spirit will dominate the Likud Party. This popular movement founded by Menachem Begin will become radical and extremist. It’s a bad thing for Israel.”

Feiglin’s move to the mainstream can be dated back to his son David’s life-threatening car crash in June 2010. David is better now but one of the lasting effects of his injury was that it softened his father.

Following Netanyahu’s announcement that he had formed a national unity government with Kadima last week, Feiglin praised the move on his Facebook page, even though it likely meant another year-and-a-half before he could enter the Knesset.

Had the early election taken place, Kadima strategists intended to portray the Likud in Feiglin’s image. Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni recently warned that Israeli politics will fall prey to a “Dark Feiglinist dictatorship.”

Livni’s comment stars in ads for Feiglin’s annual fund-raising dinner in New York in three weeks.

“We don’t think we’re so dark,” the ad said. “In fact, we throw pretty good parties! Come join us for dinner on June 5 and help Livni see the light.”


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