Religious People with Little Faith
But nevertheless, do results not matter? After 13 years, you got to 23% of the party vote, and you have yet to become a Knesset member. At this rate it will take another 40 years to become the party leader. And even if theoretically you do beat Netanyahu one day, he’ll leave the party the same day and everyone will follow him. Everyone understands that the true Likud is no longer here.
When my family came to Israel 120 years ago, everyone was still in Belarus and shook their heads at that one rich Jew that decided to take his successful family to a barren wasteland. It was the craziest and most illogical thing to do. But at the end of the day, since it was the right thing to do, the realistic thing to do, that is to say it was God’s Will, because of that, we – his descendants – live here, and we all know what happened to those who stayed behind. We believe that the Third Return to Zion will not be undone, that the Holy One Blessed Be He isn’t joking around with us only to return us back to exile. And since the State of Israel will continue to exist, it cannot be anything but a State that fulfills the will of God. That is to say, and the end of the day, this country must have faith-based leadership. The only question is, what part will we take in this story.
Actually, I’m doing exactly what my grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather did, meaning what I believe the Will of God to be. Anyone who refuses to join us is, in practice, delaying the development of Jewish leadership for the State of Israel, he’s the one that is unrealistic, refusing to develop, he’s the one that I’m sad to say will pay the price. God wills that this country have Jewish leadership. There is no other possibility.
Who knows what God’s will is? The Holy One Blessed Be He also destroyed Gush Katif and brought us the Holocaust.
In truth, I don’t know how long it will take before our victory becomes actualized. Just like the Wright brothers who thought up the idea that a body heavier than air could fly, tried a hundred times to build it and they all crashed. But in the end it flew. And the very second it began to fly, all of the 100 failures became part of the ultimate success. Understand what kind of success it was when in the last primaries nearly a quarter of the Likud membership – not the NRP or the National Union – a quarter of the membership of the biggest political party in Israel voted for me. I surpassed all the senior ministers, Uzi Landau, Yisrael Katz…I surpassed Shaul Mofaz, which is why he left to Kadima.
For whatever reason, the Likudniks don’t ask themselves these types of questions you’re asking me. The ones who ask me, and weak of faith they are in this case, are specifically the religious ones, and I must say, it frustrates me to a great deal. There’s a process going on here where specifically the ones who are supposed to believe that “the redemption of Israel happens slowly but surely” find it difficult to understand for some reason. We’re in the middle of a necessarily inevitable victory, a process that can’t NOT win according to our worldview. If you’re a leftist and you think the country is going to be destroyed because of what we’re doing and that we’re promoting national disintegration and destruction, then fine. But if you understand that we are in the process of redemption, then I simply don’t understand how it’s possible NOT to understand the implications of my candidacy. Manhigut Yehudit is continually gaining strength, and even the Prime Minister is showing through his behavior how much he is stressed out by my progress.
Your book “Where There are No Men” is a book on the revolutionary period of your Zo Artzeinu Movement during the Oslo Accords. Maybe it was better back then, as a protest movement outside the political realm?
For me personally it was a lot more fun back then. It was fun being a child with no responsibility. There’s nothing easier than blocking a highway, sitting in jail and reaping the fruits of praise. My position in Zo Artzeinu was a springboard for me that I could have used for a soft landing into politics all for myself, but I understood that that wouldn’t accomplish a thing. We don’t lack knitted kippot in politics. We lack men with vision who are actually trying to achieve that vision, showing the public that its leaders are taking them in the wrong direction and showcase an alternative. It’s one or the other: Either we don’t have an alternative to the current reality, and then the question arises as to why we’re complaining about Barak, Sharon and the rest, or we have an alternative – and then it has to come together with contending for the leadership of the country.
I’ve learned this from the Israeli Left. The Leftists were never a majority in Israel, so how did it happen that their ideology set the Israeli reality? Very simple. They were not satisfied with putting up a bunch of settlements, meaning Kibbutzim and their own communities. The immediately translated their ideology into public policy and ran for leadership of the country. They had a leadership consciousness. By us, however, nothing of the sort has ever over crossed the boundary of private or local community-based belief to the point of national leadership. The Right does not lack protest movements. This is not what I was looking for. I was looking for a solution. A faith-based alternative to the whole process of collapse that we find ourselves in.
If the 3% of radical leftists were able to take control of the Zionist enterprise in the 20’s and 30’s because they had a vision, and then succeeded in directing the entire process of the Return to Zion to one that has no God, that leaves God aside, why aren’t we capable of initiating the reverse? The answer is that we don’t believe in ourselves enough. We don’t believe that our Torah is relevant, and worst of all – we don’t believe in the Nation of Israel and its uniqueness.
And I’m telling you that the Nation of Israel is waiting and anticipating this kind of message with baited breath. You see it in the music that is becoming more and more faith-based, in the culture that is turning into this, in the yearning for a return to family values…you have no idea how many times this comes up in the polls again and again. You see that the Nation of Israel wants to be Jewish, so why are we afraid of giving it to them, giving them leadership that can provide it? Why do we continually place ourselves in the role of barking at the passing convoy? Why are we afraid to think big?
They’re afraid? No, We’re Afraid.
I hear people say that there’s nothing to be worried about. That we just have to stand our ground in Judea and Samaria and we’ll fight tactical wars where we need to and we’ll vote for the least bad candidate and the situation will somehow work itself out in our favor. We saw in the Disengagement where such thinking leads. In an overall sense, we’re in a process of redemption, but in the immediate sense, the State of Israel is being led by forces that do not share our beliefs. Therefore, it follows necessarily that if there won’t be Jewish leadership, the Disengagement will have a bitter sequel. I’m not saying this in order to scare anybody, but from a very simple dialectical analysis. If you don’t present an alternative, there is a limit to how many fingers you can put in the dike in order to stop the raging waters.
What’s your opinion on Rabbinic leadership and the general leadership of the religious Zionist sector?
I respect them very much. They’re doing work one can only admire. It pains me a little that I’m seen as one who doesn’t know how to value the efforts of Torah based groups, or love of Israel that organizations like Tzohar effectively demonstrate. It’s simply untrue. I know how to value and even admire these people.
On the other hand, I must say that I only say what I think is true. Of course with love, an embrace, but the truth must be spoken. I am against blurring identity in order to preserve unity. In Manhigut Yehudit I see declared secularists, even atheists, and on the other hand I see Ultra Orthodox. On either side, saying the truth doesn’t scare them. I learned that when you speak the truth with conviction and humility, it doesn’t scare people away. Those who really listen can value it.
What do you think about Yair Lapid joining politics?
He’s a ratings candidate. Shelli Yechimovich’s candidacy I saw in a positive light, since she expresses a coherent philosophy, even if it’s dangerous in my opinion, and the impression I get is that she actually believes what she says. This is a type of politics that is absent in Israel, and I do not see this in Lapid. I certainly don’t see it in Noam Shalit, a man that did not contribute a thing to Israeli society but exacted a terrible price from it, and he’s coming into politics off the back of the fact that he was able to take a lot. Lapid and Shalit symbolize bad politics in my opinion. I’m more comfortable talking with an ideological enemy with a consistent philosophy.
Netanyahu knows that the map with the correct destination the country has to go in and will in the end arrive at, is in my hands and yours. Journalists always ask me why he’s so afraid of me, and the answer is that this is exactly what he’s afraid of. He knows very well and understands the potential of Manhigut Yehudit, seemingly even better than all of my voters. The fact is that the public is divided between those that love me and those that deeply hate me, but nobody’s laughing at me. Deep down, the public knows that there’s something very very real going on here.