Netanyahu or Feiglin, Israel's Future Still Looks Dark

If Netanyahu had not existed, the settlers would have been forced to invent him.

Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
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Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar

If Moshe Feiglin had not existed, Benjamin Netanyahu would have been obliged to invent him. How would the only democracy in the Middle East have looked if its leader, Prime Minister Netanyahu, had competed alone for the Likud leadership?

It is not certain that the prime minister is actually concerned about the polls, which predict that Feiglin will get one-quarter to one-third of Likud members' votes. After all, what do we say here about neighboring countries where leaders are elected with 90 to 95 percent of the "voters'" support?

The most important factor is that the Likud primaries are seen in Israel and throughout the world as a race between a pragmatic statesman and the leader of a messianic camp. The slanderous words uttered by Feiglin against "the Arabs" make Netanyahu's racist remarks - for example, "They murder while we build," spoken at the shiva for the murdered Fogel family in the West Bank - seem politically correct.

The difference between Netanyahu and Feiglin lies mainly in their tone. Their lyrics with regard to the conflict with the Palestinians derive inspiration from the same sources.

Netanyahu has taken the State of Israel's 21st century title deed to the Greater Land of Israel directly from our forefather, Jacob, "who was also known as Israel." In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, he told the world that Benjamin, whom he is named after, wandered with his 11 brothers in the hills of Judea and Samaria 4,000 years ago, and that there has been a Jewish presence in the land ever since then. He proved to the world our right to a "united" Jerusalem (including the Shuafat refugee camp and Beit Hanina in the eastern part of the city ) with the aid of a story about a seal "from Biblical times" - a seal which belonged to an official by the name of Netanyahu, and which was found close to the Western Wall.

Like Feiglin, Netanyahu does not recognize the Palestinians' right to sovereignty between the sea and the Jordan River. The prime minister's speech at Bar-Ilan University, in which he spoke about a two-state solution, was made by force of circumstance following U.S. President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo. That was when Netanyahu was scared of a Democratic president with the middle name Hussein. Instead of telling Obama to go to hell with his demands to freeze construction on the settlements, Netanyahu exhausted Obama and the Palestinians in negotiations which ended with a partial freeze that would last 10 months. The fire and brimstone which the settlers then poured on him in the wake of that temporary slowdown transformed Netanyahu into a fearless peace-seeker.

What the hell does the far right want from comrade Netanyahu? How many outposts has he evacuated since he returned to the Prime Minister's Bureau? When did the settlers ever enjoy such generous budgets? Under which prime minister were so many ethnocentric laws enacted? Under whom were there so many initiatives to restrain the Supreme Court and human rights organizations, and to impose such fear on the media? Who entrusted Israel's foreign relations to a settler who doesn't care a hoot about the rest of the world? If Netanyahu is truly threatening to reach an agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, why is it that, since his first term as prime minister, the Palestinian peace camp has never felt so desperate?

If Netanyahu had not existed, the settlers would have been forced to invent him. It has cost him peanuts to remove some of the roadblocks in the West Bank, to lift part of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and to pay a bit of lip service to "the peace process." And, he has managed to preserve all the settlers' interests.

Netanyahu has managed to refute the accepted wisdom that it is impossible to have the cake and eat it too. Fact: It is possible to gobble up additional territories and also be depicted as a moderate leader while managing to keep relations with the United States and Europe intact.

The settlers can relax. The general positions outlined last week in Jordan to the Palestinians by the prime minister's envoy, attorney Isaac Molho, did not have the slightest chance of leading to a breakthrough in the stalemate on the Palestinian track. It was nothing more than another exercise aimed at presenting Netanyahu as a partner to peace and the Palestinians as the ones who turn it down. This is yet another effort to remove the danger of concessions on the way to a two-state solution. Feiglin could not have done this better. Netanyahu will bring about an end to the Jewish and democratic state in a much more elegant fashion. Vote Feiglin-yahu!



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