Moshe Feiglin Seeks To Keep Bibi Right

Little-Known Insider Keeps Likud From Moving to Center

Man Behind the Curtain: Moshe Feiglin is not well known. But he is sometimes lampooned as the man who makes decisions for Israel’s ruling Likud party.
getty images
Man Behind the Curtain: Moshe Feiglin is not well known. But he is sometimes lampooned as the man who makes decisions for Israel’s ruling Likud party.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published August 05, 2012, issue of August 10, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

He’s the man who has brought God into Israel’s ruling Likud party and is perhaps the most important party insider you’ve never heard of.

A bearded, yarmulke-wearing settler, Moshe Feiglin sips coffee and says with conviction that he will lead Likud further right and will become prime minister. He doesn’t have a Knesset seat, and he talks like a dreamer, but analysts say he may control more than one-fifth of the votes on Likud party committees that select candidates for the Knesset.

“Feiglin and people associated with Feiglin have actually restricted Netanyahu’s orientation to the center,” said Abraham Diskin, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Feiglin, a resident of the West Bank settlement Karnei Shomron, joined Likud 12 years ago, after years of grassroots activism, with the explicit goal of radicalizing the party from the inside. And in February, after long years of building up support within the party’s central committee, he made his strongest bid so far to lead the party that governs Israel. His movement, Manhigut Yehudit, or Jewish Leadership, had recruited about one in 10 of the 100,000 Likud members eligible to vote in the party primary, but his popularity in that election went well beyond these loyalists. In the Likud primary contest that month, he received almost one in four votes.

While this left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly in the helm as party leader, his rivalry with Feiglin is far from over. In fact, it may be about to go into full swing.

The decision by the centrist Kadima party to walk out of the ruling coalition on July 17, just 70 days after agreeing to join, has fueled rumors that elections could be in the cards again. If so, this will necessitate a new party primary to select a list of Likud candidates for the next Knesset — a task over which analysts say Feiglin will have significant power.

“He can make a difference by pushing hawkish Likud members up the list, making the ability of Netanyahu to follow policies of the center more difficult,” Diskin said. If the Likud is returned to the Knesset with a strong Feiglin contingency, he said, Netanyahu could never repeat the 10-month freeze on the expansion of Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank that he offered the United States in 2009–2010.

During a period in which all meaningful power politics is taking place within the right, Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of the Reut Institute think-tank, believes that Feiglin’s effort is currently “splitting Likud” between those willing to discuss territorial compromise and those seeking to drive a stake through any such impulse.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.