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Moshe Feiglin’s vision of liberating Gaza by driving Palestinians into the Sinai –Updated

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Moshe Feiglin

Moshe Feiglin

Moshe Feiglin (b. Haifa ’62) is an Israeli politician on the rise. Elected as a member of the Knesset only in January 2013, today he already serves as deputy speaker of the Knesset.  In May, a poll  listed him has the fourth most popular member of Likud.

Over the past month Israel bombed countless targets in Gaza, killed more than 1,800 Palestinians (mostly civilians), wounded in excess of 9,000, destroyed in excess of 10,000 homes, the strip’s only power plant, hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure, and lost 64 Israelis in the process (Haaretz’s tally). The onslaught lit up the sky to outer space.

Alexander Gerst foto of Gaza from space

Alexander Gerst foto of Gaza from space

If this bombardment speaks a language, it speaks the language of Moshe Feiglin.

Feiglin is a deeply-religious person. All of his education, it would appear, has been religious. David Remnick interviewed him for his New Yorker profile, The Party Faithful, published in January 2013, right before his entry into the Knesset. Feiglin had just attended the Third Conference for the Application of Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank).  Many members of Knesset were in attendance, “including Likud’s Ze’ev Elkin, who declared that it was time for Israel to ‘stop conceding and go on the offensive, step by step.’ All the speeches favored some form of annexation; the question was how much and how soon,” Remnick reported.  Feiglin advocated for Israel to pay Palestinians to leave:  “Why not spend … money … and permanently rid yourself of the problem?”

On July 25, 2014, Feiglin shared his view of a solution for Gaza in the Jewish Press. His vision entails driving Palestinians into the Sinai desert and populating the Gaza strip with Jews as part of Greater Israel. [Update: The Jewish Press has revised Feiglin’s comments, as reflected in update at bottom of this post.] It is difficult to quarrel with his sense of brevity and directness:

 Ultimatum – One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack.

Attack – Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.

Siege – Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender to IDF forces).

Defense – Any place from which Israel or Israel’s forces were attacked will be immediately attacked with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.

Conquer – After the IDF completes the “softening” of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.

Elimination– The GSS and IDF will thoroughly eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.

Sovereignty – Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel. The coastal train line will be extended, as soon as possible, to reach the entire length of Gaza.

According to polls, most of the Arabs in Gaza wish to leave. Those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package. Those who choose to remain will receive permanent resident status. After a number of years of living in Israel and becoming accustomed to it, contingent on appropriate legislation in the Knesset and the authorization of the Minister of Interior, those who personally accept upon themselves Israel’s rule, substance and way of life of the Jewish State in its Land, will be offered Israeli citizenship.

Liberation of our land “is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land” says Feiglin.  After elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. Gazans will be forced into the Sinai to wander in the wilderness, or bought off with “generous” aid from Israel to leave.  Those willing to submit to Israel’s rule and subservient status may magnanimously stay. That’s the language of Feiglin in the Jewish Press. Does this ravaging of Gaza make sense in any other terms?

Set aside whether Israel had a right to defend itself from the ineffectual Hamas rockets by bombing innocent civilians; set aside whether Israel has the right to block off tunnels in order to tighten its siege.  Does it make sense to sacrifice 64 Israelis, and to bomb densely populated civilian areas for four weeks, 24 hours a day, to gain three or five years of “quiet” from pesky, but ineffectual rockets.  Not peace, but quiet.  Feiglin doesn’t think so, and in that, surely, he is right.  This operation makes no sense unless you are held captive to Feiglin’s Siren song of Gaza.

Experts do not speak of this. What is Israel’s end game strategy, asks CNN of its experts.  “There is none,” they dutifully agree. Israel has depleted the Hamas arsenal, for now; this operation won’t change anything for the long term; Israel will tighten its siege by blocking tunnels…. that’s it. Yet, through it all, Feiglin’s Siren song is heard, even as Israel’s leaders are lashed to the mast, unable to follow its call of “elimination” and “sovereignty.”

Note that Feiglin’s prescriptions of “ultimatum”, “attack”, “siege” and “defense” have been expertly implemented by Israel since 2005. Israel has also “Conquered” Gaza twice: in operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) and during the current operation.  Feiglin, of course, will not get his wish of “elimination” and “sovereignty” this time round.  A gradual de-escalation appears to be in effect this morning; the international community will pressure the parties into a longer stand down soon. Israel will reassert its siege.  Tunnels will be closed off.  Fewer materials will get through, for a while. Tunnels will be rebuilt. Feiglin’s prescription for “Defense” will be resumed.

When Remnick asked Feiglin about some of the provocative things he has said about Arabs, he answered: “I did make some mistakes along the way–not with the words, but with the melody.”  Peace won’t be achieved until Israel stops hearing that melody.

Update: revised Feiglin’s piece on July 27, 2014.  Some of the rhetoric has been softened.  No explanation is given but some of the changes highlight that Feiglin is not speaking for the government (e.g. “will” is changed to “should in several instances”).  Under “Ultimatum” “Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave” has been toned down (?) to “They should consider heading to Sinai, which is not far from Gaza.”  Under “Attack” “conventional means” is now up front to emphasize he is not talking about dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza.  Glad to hear it.  “Siege” has been reworded: it is time for total military siege, but Israel “will allow exit from Gaza.” Under “Defense” the reference to “no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’ is dropped.  “Conquor” has changed “will” to “should” and the order of words has been rearranged.  Under “Elimination” “will” has been changed to “should.”  Under “Sovereignty” “part of Israel” has been changed to “parts of our land” and the order of words has been rearranged.  The entry here reflects the July 25 version.

 A version of this post appeared on Nikles’s blog last week.


Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

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24 Responses

  1. marc b. on August 6, 2014, 11:19 am

    Feiglin is the future of Israel, deeply disappointed with Netanyahu’s equivocation and restraint. (Presumably some will look back on Netanyahu as a serious, nuanced statesman, the way some Americans view GBush1 now. pretty sad commentary.)

  2. Abierno on August 6, 2014, 11:27 am

    This is an important article. When Feiglin is represented in US media, if at all, his prime position in the Likud power hierarchy is never mentioned. He is well and truly the voice of Likud. It is to him that Netanyahu apologizes that he cannot act more forcefully because of “international” constraints. The manifesto printed in this article, as the author so eloquently points out, is the roadmap for the Israeli government, the government to which we pay 8.3 million dollars per day, the government which complains endlessly about “security” while murdering thousands
    (in the three Gazan wars over 4,000 people have been killed, the vast majority civilians, including approximately 1,000 children.), and the government which now has ursurped 44% of Gaza territory.

    • Citizen on August 6, 2014, 12:23 pm

      Actually, that’s $8.5 Million dollars per day, plus interest,plus another million recently all told for Iron Dome, plus endless underwriting of Israeli debt while the US is bankrupt.

  3. marc b. on August 6, 2014, 12:09 pm

    “the government which now has usurped 44% of Gaza territory.”

    haven’t they fully withdrawn, or did they leave a military presence in the buffer zone in Gaza they were carping on about? (haven’t been following the news closely the past few weeks.)

  4. Citizen on August 6, 2014, 12:16 pm

    US UN GA spokeswoman now on CSPAN blaming HAMAS for everything. Reading off a paper. Rosemary Dicarlo, Deputy US Ambassador to the UN.

    • James Canning on August 7, 2014, 2:11 pm

      We can be sure there will be no mention of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israeli arrests of Hamas officials in the WB, etc etc etc that led directly to the slaughter in Gaza.

  5. Stephen Shenfield on August 6, 2014, 12:33 pm

    Feiglin is silent on a very important point. Deportation across state borders requires not only the initiative of the deporting state but also the passive or active cooperation of the receiving state or states. Up to 1939 the Nazis were glad to “let the Jews leave”; the problem was who would take them in. Will Egypt willingly accept a couple of million more Palestinian refugees? Surely not.

    Feiglin must understand this perfectly well. He is not a stupid man. His silence does not mean he has not thought about this aspect. It means he does not want to reveal his thoughts, at least in public. Israeli ‘transfer’ advocates have suggested that Israel might first occupy the destination area and then carry out the deportation unilaterally. In this case that means reconquering the Sinai.

    But the Sinai is mostly desert. How would it support the resettlement of two million people from Gaza? Perhaps Israel will “make the desert bloom” for them? Ha ha.

    Note an inconsistency in Feiglin’s presentation. First he says: “Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts.” This clearly implies that Israel will do nothing to help the people it has deported. Further on he talks about giving them “generous” aid. I would guess though that where he says “they can leave [and] this will be the limit” he is expressing his real attitude. After all, when in the past has Israel ever given aid to those it has expelled?

    So the prospect of real genocide is perilously close here. There are historical precedents for driving people into the desert as a means of genocide. The Hereros of southwest Africa were driven into the Kalahari in the first decade of the last century. Many Armenian deportees were also driven into the desert to perish in 1915.

    • lysias on August 6, 2014, 12:47 pm

      I suppose the U.S. could forestall such a genocide by agreeing to accept the expelled Palestinians. But I don’t imagine there’s much chance of that. (Although, given the aid the U.S. has given Israel, a strong case can be made that we would have a moral duty to accept them.)

    • Marnie on August 6, 2014, 2:37 pm

      “Will Egypt willingly accept a couple of million more Palestinian refugees? Surely not.”
      Will Egypt get trigger happy with the Palestinians in the Sinai? God forbid. Will the US accept Palestinians and give them citizenship to save them from the Sinai or will something big happen in the mean time with talks. There was a good article by Jimmy Carter saying it was time for the west to recognize Hamas as a “legitimate political actor”, like it or not, they were the democratically elected party, etc. I hope that will be the outcome, not the hellish plans of Herr Feiglin.

    • Abierno on August 6, 2014, 3:14 pm

      Perilously close to genocide? Killing all who are perceived as combatants, irrespective of their actual status, and shoving all the rest with no food, water or other resources into mostly uninhabited desert, whose denizens are legendary for their rapacious behavior. See accounts of the asylum seekers of their treatment at the hands of those desert dwellers. This is genocide, pure and simple by any definition. … and this is from the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. I would underscore that the Palestinians, West Bank and Gaza, are under total political, economic and geographical control by Feiglin and his party, Likud.

  6. Marnie on August 6, 2014, 12:34 pm

    “The Final Solution to the Palestinian Problem”. It’s chilling in its attention to detail and the language is pure master race talk “One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts”. I can picture Feiglin and his confederates sitting around a large table with drinks and dinner being served – like at the Wannsee conference. I’m not about to apologize for the comparison to the nazis because it fits too well.

    • Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 1:06 pm

      There is no need to apologize, more and more the similarities are becoming obvious.
      You are not the only person who is beginning to think so.

      This hateful man, who really belongs in a nazi uniform has shown the world that there are murderous intentions and thoughts, by some who run their country, and plays a big part in their government. He has revealed to the world that there are some who spew hate for the Palestinians, just as bad as the Hamas charter, but worse because they have the means, arms, and military might to cause the death and destruction they salivate for and can follow through. They also have the unwavering support of the US, unlike Hamas.
      So which side is the bigger terrorist and how much more dangerous are they?

    • Mooser on August 7, 2014, 10:38 am

      “I’m not about to apologize for the comparison to the nazis because it fits too well.”

      Ooops, when all that about the “swastika banners at pro-Palestinian demos” came up, I knew this was where it would end up. Where the correspondence is so compelling there is no apologizing for making it, and it must be made.
      Since the two ideologies basically came out of the same cooker, the same spoon, it should be possible to find nearly exact correspondences, instead of sloppy or general ones.

  7. lysias on August 6, 2014, 12:44 pm

    The people at the Wannsee Conference only got a snack (Imbiss). It was mid-morning, after all. But it included cognac, presumably seized from the occupied French.

  8. Theo on August 6, 2014, 1:16 pm

    If this great humanitarian knows that his name in german means coward!!!

  9. James Canning on August 6, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Moshe Feiglin is the sort of Israeli Jewish fanatic who undermines the national security of the American people with his insane vision of a “Greater Israel”.

  10. Les on August 6, 2014, 1:21 pm

    Not so different from those who openly call for the genocide of the Palestinians by Israel, believing that Hitler’s sin was in his choice of victims.

  11. Pixel on August 6, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Moshe is my new MAIN man!

    I LOVE this guy!

    All he has to do is open his mouth, say what he thinks (which he does) and say what he means (which he does), and 99% of humanity is immediately horrified and totally “gets it.”

    Go, Moshe, go!!

  12. Inanna on August 6, 2014, 9:08 pm

    Couldn’t finish reading this. Just didn’t want to take it into myself in any way.

  13. wondering jew on August 6, 2014, 11:01 pm

    “All of his education, it would appear, has been religious.” This is nonsense. what does this gratuitous line add to Roland Nikles’ piece? Gratuitous childishness.

    Feiglin will not be the leader of Likud, not in the next three election cycles: 2016, 2020 and 2024. I will bet on it. Will you? There are those who are in the mainstream of Likud who will adopt his rhetoric and his positions, but he will not be the leader of Likud in the next 10 years. I’m willing to bet on that. Are you?

  14. Citizen on August 7, 2014, 8:16 am

    Deeply religious person. Moses in the desert, is he? He wants to send the Palestinians into the desert?

  15. Vera Gottlieb on August 7, 2014, 2:25 pm

    And this is a religious man? I have no intention of ever reading the Torah – the Bible either, but is this what these books foment: killings? Well, I guess the Zionists have found one more way of making ‘friends’ around the world. May lightening strike all of them. I am utterly ashamed of my Jewish background. I feel nothing but contempt for any person, anywhere, who supports this genocide.

  16. DICKERSON3870 on August 7, 2014, 5:32 pm

    RE: “Does it make sense to sacrifice 64 Israelis, and to bomb densely populated civilian areas for four weeks, 24 hours a day, to gain three or five years of “quiet” from pesky, but ineffectual rockets. Not peace, but quiet. Feiglin doesn’t think so, and in that, surely, he is right.” ~ Roland Nikles

    I’m a bit surprised that no one anywhere seems to have raised the possibility that Operation Protective Edge might actually be the first op of an operational trilogy. Israel’s second op would be neutralizing Hezbollah in Lebanon.
    After these two prerequisite ops have been completed, and Hezbollah and Hamas have been deemed sufficiently neutralized, the third op (i.e., the Grand Finale) would be Israel eliminating Iran’s nuclear program.

    P.S. Put another way, I wonder whether the Obama administration had to sign off on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in order to keep Netanyahu from raising a stink about the talks with Iran being extended.

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