Feiglin rules out joining URP, leaves open possibility of union with New Right

Zehut threatens law suit for slander against URP MK

June 13, 2019 18:50
3 minute read.
Feiglin rules out joining URP, leaves open possibility of union with New Right

Leader of Zehut Moshe Feiglin. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

Zehut Party leader Moshe Feiglin has categorically ruled out running on a joint list with the Union of Right-Wing Parties, saying that Zehut was ideologically incompatible with what he described as the overtly sectoral, religious-Zionist ticket, and that doing so would chase away many of Zehut’s voters.

Feiglin left open the possibility, however, of forming a joint list with the New Right party, praising it for its effort in crossing sectoral boundaries and seeking national leadership instead of pursuing a narrower, religious-Zionist agenda.

On Wednesday, New Right chairman Naftali Bennett implied during a war of words with URP MK Moti Yogev that he was not interested in joining URP.

Feiglin made his comments in a lengthy post on his Facebook page entitled “Religious Zionism, identity, and the answer to the question why Zehut is making a sincere effort to unite in a technical bloc with Bennett and/or Shaked, but is not interested in uniting with [URP leaders] Rabbi Rafi Peretz and MK [Betzalel] Smotrich.”

The Zehut leader wrote that the religious-Zionist movement had never managed to fulfil its ideology of “synergizing” with secular Zionism, had failed to take on national challenges, and since the Six Day War had become consumed with advancing the settlement movement to the detriment of national leadership.

More specifically, he said that the hard-line wing of the religious-Zionist movement, the “hardal” community (a Hebrew portmanteau for ultra-Orthodox and nationalist), had entrenched the sectoral nature of the religious-Zionist parties.

“The hardal politics is perceived as another form of sectoral politics at the expense of the general public,” he opined, adding that at the other end of the religious-Zionist spectrum the moderate wing of the community was seen as the “crocheted [kippah] tail of the Likud party and nothing more.”

He said however that the religious-Zionist moderates had an advantage over their hardline kin in their “true openness” to the secular public.

The moderate religious-Zionist movement “does not relate to the secular public with redemptive paternalism whilst abandoning responsibility for daily life,” wrote Feiglin. “Unlike the hardal [hardline religious Zionists], the New Right dispensed with sectoralism, and turns to the entirety of the nation and if you’re not an outright Leftist does not generate antagonism among them.”

Feiglin said that his party was not part of religious Zionism or any other sector, that its supporters came from across the political and social spectrum, and that “the smell of redemption from [societal] conflict” had been apparent at Zehut’s election rallies.

“A connection between Zehut and hardal politics would nullify Zehut’s tidings and justly chase away its voters,” he wrote. “I have great appreciation for the hardalim and their rabbis, but a connection between Zehut and them would be to connect something with its opposite, the damage from which would outweigh its benefit.”

To compound the rift with URP, Zehut threatened to file a law suit for slander against URP MP Eli Ben-Dahan for stating earlier this week that “a prominent member of Zehut” ran an anti-circumcision organization.

Ben-Dahan was referring to the stand-up comedian, cannabis legalization activist and Zehut party candidate at No. 18 on its electoral list, Gadi Wilcherski, who has publicly called for Jewish Israelis to stop circumcising their sons, one of the most fundamental of Jewish practices.

“These are defamatory words without basis,” Zehut wrote in a letter to Ben-Dahan, warning him that if he does not apologize and retract his comments the party will sue him. “Neither a prominent or non-prominent member of Zehut has ever established an imaginary movement like this.”

Ben-Dahan responded by posting a video of Wilcherski urging Israelis not to circumcise their sons, adding “I’ll see you in court.”

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