Iran: A conversation with Moshe Feiglin

I’ve had little interest in Israel in my life. It seemed a lost cause. Jerusalem is the timeless and endless center of the inner life of the West; her rabbis the exclusive guardians to her mysteries. That Bill Clinton could lay claim to it was an abomination.

I perked up when Moshe Feiglin found support. He recognized and represented Israel at its essence; a sacred place which should only be understood in sacred terms and in thousand-year historical cycles. Soldier, sabra, leader of Manhigut Yehudit, which seeks to turn the “State of Jews into the Jewish State.” For several years now I as a non-Jew have appreciated his weekly commentary on Torah. This week I had the opportunity to speak to him.

I mentioned the Clinton moment and the Oslo Accords as a psychological turning away from values and he said, “What about Obama? If Clinton brought a lack of values, Obama brings anti-values. Values become a bad thing.”

Regarding Iran’s nuclear capacity, he writes this week that we approach the moment of truth: “Ahmadinejad, like Saddam, is preparing to destroy Israel. Netanyahu, like Shamir, is hoping that the world will, for its own reasons, do the dirty work for us and fight our existential war.

“The question is, is it better if Israel attacks Iran or if the West does so? From Shamir's mistake [Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stayed out of the Kuwait war] we can conclude that greater Tel Aviv will be on the receiving end of the entire payload that Iran can muster. The second lesson we learn from Shamir is that the Western coalition will not be overly concerned with the threat hanging over Israel's head. As we all remember, not one Scud missile was destroyed before it was launched.

“If Israel does not attack Iran and leaves the work for others, our position will be further compromised. First, because a passive Israel will have no power of deterrence against Iran. Second, because it is technically more difficult to defend oneself from a passive stance.”

But conversation quickly turns to Abraham, who endangered himself and his entire family in a World War to save Lot from captivity after he made his bad decision to move to Sodom:

“After Abraham successfully traverses this trial and wins the war against the kings of the north, God makes a covenant [the Covenant of Pieces] with him and promises him the Land of Israel. Sounds strange? God 'sides with' the winner? Not at all. God chooses the man who is willing to fight for his destiny, and not just for his existence.”

That in essence is Israel’s and its leaders’ responsibility, he says, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet learned Abraham’s lesson.

My impression of Moshe Feiglin after a half-hour interview: It took a long time for England and America to turn to Churchill because we were afraid not so much of the consequences of action but of the responsibilities which would be demanded of us. When Israel is no longer afraid of its responsibilities ahead — its destiny — it will turn to Feiglin.