Israeli Far Right-Winger Moshe Feiglin Swings Left on Marijuana

Anti-Arab Lawmaker Fights for Pot Legalization

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By Ben Sales

Published November 20, 2013.
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However, he considers himself a libertarian, albeit one with a religious bent. His opposition to a plan to issue biometric identification cards to Israelis and his longtime support for unfettered Jewish settlement in the West Bank are, Feiglin says, of the same cloth as his support for marijuana use.

“The root of freedom is the belief in one God,” he said. “We worship him and therefore we can’t be enslaved to anyone else. An eternal nation doesn’t work against natural history, and our return to our land, to national sovereignty, means we’re connected forever.”

Feiglin’s push for legalization has landed him with some strange bedfellows. He considers Tamar Zandberg, another first-time lawmaker from the far-left Meretz party, one of his strongest allies on the issue. Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich also supports loosening restrictions on medical cannabis, though she opposes outright legalization.

“Feiglin and I don’t agree on almost anything,” Zandberg told JTA. “But on this we have a shared goal.”

Feiglin’s support for liberalizing the marijuana laws in Israel derives, in part, from personal considerations. His wife suffers from Parkinson’s disease and uses cannabis to alleviate her symptoms.

Not everyone who supports increased marijuana access backs full legalization. Hebrew University professor Raphael Mechoulam, a leading cannabis researcher, believes the drug should be decriminalized to prevent excessive arrests, but draws a line at full legalization.

“I wouldn’t want to be in a taxi or a plane where the driver is high,” Mechoulam said. “There’s a certain limit. You need the backing of the people. I’m not sure the people in Israel are ready and in favor of legalization.”

Feiglin also harbors reservations about full legalization, noting that he doesn’t want to turn Tel Aviv into Amsterdam on the Mediterranean.

“I don’t see Amsterdam as a bad thing,” he adds quickly. “There’s no chaos, there’s more freedom for citizens. [Legalization] didn’t upend the way of life.”

And though cannabis is consumed in his house due to his wife’s illness, Feiglin says that at least for now, he chooses not to inhale.

“I don’t take aspirin,” he said. “I don’t like putting things in my body. I like leaving the vessel of God as it is. But I would be happy to know that I could use it if I wanted to.”


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