Ron Paul and Moshe Feiglin

Last year, when the idea of the Tea Party was beginning to catch on, The New York Times ran a story on the rising Tea Party in Israel. On stage was Moshe Feiglin, an Israeli leader and I would say authentic, indigenous folk hero. Feiglin is the head of the Jewish Leadership Movement, which seeks to turn “the state of Jews into a Jewish state.” Feiglin and company were Tea Party before Tea Party was cool and before it became loud. I was writing about the Tea Party at the beginning and for two years at least, every day, Ron Paul and I were on the same page. It was why I first became interested in Feiglin. As Paul rises in Iowa he will carry America, whether he wins or not. He will not go away. The same can be said of Feiglin.

The Tea Party has even become imperial with Glenn Beck’s resent sojourn to Israel to declare Christian solidarity. His call was famously repudiated by Feiglin, and several well-known American senators who planned to attend suddenly canceled. But America’s vision has always been imperial regarding Israel. We intend to help, but imperialists always do. Many Americans see Israel as a pseudo-American state in which they somehow have a say. George Schultz, adviser to George W. Bush, once said on "The News Hour" with Jim Lehrer that as a Christian he “has a say” in Israel. With no mean intention. It is taken for granted by those who love Israel most: Christians in the heartland and American Jews in the Northeast.

Israel in recent years has become more Jewish. Jewish Americans have become more American.

My interest in Israel is correctly described by former Mayor Ed Koch of New York: After 9/11, “an attack on Israel is an attack on America.” In a conversation recently, Feiglin framed it more elegantly: An attack on Israel, he said, “is an attack on freedom.”

Feiglin brings a challenge to Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership on Jan. 31. Events there could very well parallel events here in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Rafi Farber, a young Israel supporter, sees a parallel between Paul and Feiglin. “Ron Paul is to government spending as Moshe Feiglin is to the Oslo Peace Process,” he writes.

“America made a decision in 1913 on big government,” he blogs from Samaria. “To change that direction requires not simply a change in style. It requires a 180-degree paradigm shift in the way America thinks about itself as a country,” and as Paul brings that paradigm change to America, so does Feiglin to Israel. And that includes aid to Israel: “Both Ron Paul and Moshe Feiglin are trying to do the impossible and change the way their countries think about themselves. And both Ron Paul and Moshe Feiglin want America to stop giving foreign aid to Israel.”

Indeed, as Feiglin wrote years back in his book, The War of Dreams:

“[T]he state of Israel, with the GNP of a modern country, can easily do without aid that amounts to just one and one-half percent of its budget — aid for which Israel essentially surrenders its independence. Why do Israelis insist on developing a sense of imaginary dependence on the U.S. and Europe, specifically at the point that Israel is both economically and militarily vigorous? The answer to that question is not at all connected to Israel's military or economic capabilities. It is on a totally different plane.”