Comments on the Globes Interview with Moshe Feiglin

This interview with Feiglin is fascinating on many levels. A few comments are in order:
1) I think his views on non-Jewish citizens of the State of Israel are simply horrifying. He argues here that it's not racist to want to make them second class citizens because deep down they know that they're second class citizens.
2) I am extremely wary of someone - anyone - who confuses "my ideas about Judaism" with "Judaism." It's one thing to disagree with R. Elyashiv or R. Ovadiah on some issue within Judaism. It's another to imply that their views are not really the "Jewish" view.
3) I am in almost complete agreement with him about education: parents, not ministries, should have control over a kid's education, and vouchers would be excellent. The one place I part company is on the issue of a core curriculum. Free public education is predicated on the idea that it will make more productive citizens, and thus it is legitimate to condition funding on the teaching of content that will indeed accomplish that goal.
4) He seems to be an advocate of "compassionate conservatism", in which case the interviewer's invocation of Ayn Rand was pretty stupid.
5) I'm not sure how he squares his economic libertarianism with his views on unrestricted school vouchers. I can understand a perspective that wants to completely abolish public funding of schools. I can understand an argument that only core subjects should be publicly funded, and that parents should pay for discretionary education. I can even understand (but strongly oppose) a state that attempts to completely control all aspects of education. I cannot understand a position that is in favor of public funding of education but opposed to any sort of governmental regulation of how that money is spent. That's the worst kind of welfare statism, and completely inconsistent with everything else Feiglin says.


Unknown said...

1) The interviewer, Dror, doesnt actually engage Feiglin in anything he says. It's apparent that Feiglin at one time commented something about Jews being the children of the master, and the Arabs, of the servant. The interviewer keeps going back to that, rather than actually deal with what Feiglin has to say. It's typical gotcha journalism, the same cr** we have to deal with here in the US.

2) You're correct that Ayn Rand was an inapt reference, but not, as you write, because Feiglin beleives in "compassionate conservatism" and Rand doesnt. As someone who's read both the Fountainhead and Atlas shrugged, as well as a bunch of her other essays on various topics, Rand simply doesnt address compassion in her book. She doesnt criticize it, she simply doenst address it. It's not the theme of her books. The theme is that individuals do better with less government - that's it. She also doesnt address military spendingm the post office, or the interstae highway system. Although she probably would think, along with millions of others, that caring for the sick and elderly is best done by the citizenry, she may actually think otherwise. Same thing with minimum wage, which Dror asks about. Unless she's written separately on that topic - which I'd like to see, if she has - you cannot infer anything from her "cannon" about her views on this subject.

3) The thing about Judaism and R Elyashiv was said by the (leftist) interviewer. And all he said was that everyone has their own version of Judaism. You can quibble with the words, but it's pretty much true.

D.C. said...

I agree with most of your points.

Regarding #1:

Do you see the description of Israel as a "Jewish state" as being purely descriptive of its Jewish majority (such that the U.S. could similarly be called a "Christian country" or a "white country"), or do you think that it should in some way be prescriptive?

If you assume that it's the latter (as most Zionists do), this means that while the individual Arab citizen may have full political rights, the fact remains that the State will be unabashedly acting in the interests of the individual Jewish citizen in ways that it is not acting in his behalf. This inherently makes him a second-class citizen.

This is an uncomfortable point for us Zionist liberals (a group in which I include myself), so we have a tendency to fudge it and pretend it's not really the case, but it's a truth that both Moshe Feiglin and Ahmed Tibi are both willing to state explicitly (though they have diametrically opposite ideas as to what should be done about it).

Unknown said...

To D.C. - how could it be anything other than prescriptive? You make it seem that merely "most" Zionists view it this way.

D.C. said...

It was a rhetorical question.

For argument's sake, though, there were the non-statist "cultural Zionists." They might not be considered Zionists under today's common usage of the term, but they certainly used it to describe themselves.