Moshe Feiglin and Naftali Bennett: Israel’s new generation

The dormant desire to restore Israel to Jewish values is exploding, said Naftali Bennett, who brings a new force and a new generation of politics to the Knesset in Israel. According to reports, he says that if the United States doesn’t take care of Iran’s nuclear production, they should let Israel do it themselves. So he seems to be asking America for permission. This is the new Israel? For all the rhetoric, Iran is not a real and credible threat to the United States any more than Iraq was or North Korea is. Iran is a threat to Israel and nothing could be more obvious. Israel should remove the threat. A new Israel would not ask permission, and until Israel stops asking permission, it will continue to be an American sub-state cursed by the vicissitudes of neurotic American presidential politics.

Will President Obama bomb Iran? Maybe. My guess is yes. But he will only do so as a bargaining chip. If Obama were to bomb Iran, he would come back to Israel with a bargaining chip demanding a Palestinian state. Israel should act and not ask. In one fell swoop, it would bring safety to Israel and independence, removing Israel from American peonage.

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Obama will be going to Israel to speak to the Knesset. He is going for one purpose: to make a deal. But there will be an empty seat in the Knesset if Obama does not bring with him Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli citizen who has been in American prison for 28 years for passing intelligence to Israel. Moshe Feiglin, a Likud member recently elected to the Knesset, says he will not attend the president’s speech if Obama does not pardon Pollard and bring him back to Israel with him.

Israel is at a generational break: a “Second Zionist Revolution,” says Israeli writer Caroline Glick — this time a religious and cultural revival that links the hipsters of Tel Aviv with the conservative rabbis in Jerusalem. Feiglin, who wants Israel to be a “Jewish state” instead of a “state for Jews,” is the link between the two. I interviewed him last year and heard him speak in New York this week. He is a man apart and one possibly who harks back to greater times. He is tall and determined, the archetypal warrior/aesthete and potentially philosopher/king. As American foreign policy, headed now with politicians John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, continues in the inspired tradition of Bono, Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, which has plagued Israel and cost lives since the Oslo Accords, State might begin to ponder his empty seat at Knesset and what it means to Israel ahead.

Feiglin is a mystery and one perhaps only Israel is prepared to solve. He appears to be part Gandhi and part Meir Kahane. His ruminations on destiny and the Jewish condition bring to mind Tolstoy’s late work on violence and nonviolence, and he raises questions as Tolstoy did to greater questions: what is a state, what is a religion? What is our purpose? What is a man?