Why Sharansky favours Netanyahu over Feiglin

By Caroline Glick, Column one: Sharansky’s democracy lesson

[..] In the next general elections, Israeli voters will be asked to choose between three alternative leaders — Olmert, Barak and Netanyahu. As Sharansky sees it, Netanyahu is the only one with a realistic understanding of global realities and a true appreciation for the strength of Israeli democracy. Netanyahu’s economic reforms, which fuelled Israel’s prosperity, were predicated on the liberal view that national wealth is created by a nation’s citizenry, not by the government. Unlike Barak and Olmert, Netanyahu grasps that the key to national strength is the empowerment of the nation.

While national elections seem light years away, in ten days, Netanyahu will stand for reelection as the leader of Likud. He is facing off in the Likud primaries against Moshe Feiglin, who heads the Jewish Leadership faction.

What is striking about these primaries is the similarity between Feiglin and Barak and Olmert. Although Feiglin comes from the post-Zionist Right rather than the post-Zionist Left, like Barak and Olmert, he bases his post-Zionist vision for the country on fantasy. Whereas in Olmert and Barak’s leftist visions Israel has no enemies, in Feiglin’s vision, there is no outside world at all. There is no US administration. There is no European Union. There is no United Nations. There is no media. There is nothing. No worries. Feiglin will just tell the West and the Arabs to leave us alone because this is our land and it’s our G-d given right to be here, and everyone will understand and no one will bother us anymore.

Sharansky’s main problem with Feiglin’s candidacy is that if he makes a strong showing he will frighten away disaffected Kadima, Yisrael Beitenu and Shas voters who do not ascribe to his post-Zionist, religious worldview. While this is true enough, it is not the central problem with Feiglin.

The Zionist ideal which Feiglin, like Olmert and Barak insist on replacing is the only viable path to ensure the survivability of the State of Israel. It is the Zionist vision, which postulates a free Jewish nation state, where the sum total of creativity and wisdom of both democratic institutions and the Jewish traditions of faith in human freedom can build on one another, which guarantees that the core values and inherent strengths of the nation will be brought to bear in moving the country forward.

Sharansky himself believes strongly that Zionism is the core of Israeli strength. As he puts it, “As a Jewish nation state, we have the will power of a people that returned to Zion and built a free country. These are powerful foundations for a national strategy.”

But to bring these strengths to bear, the nation must understand that it must defend itself from poor leaders. “Democracy isn’t only leaders. It is also the willingness of the people to protect democracy. We can’t expect for the Prime Minister to just get up and resign. The public needs to pressure government ministers and members of Knesset. Today they do no feel that they will be a particularly heavy price for their support of this terribly unpopular government.”

Democracy is based on people making choices. The success of democracies is ensured only when people choose wisely and embrace their power and responsibility as citizens.

August 3, 2007 | 19 Comments »

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