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Caroline Glick: making a run for the Knesset

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Igal Hecht interviews Caroline Glick

Caroline Glick moved to Israel from the United States almost 30 years ago. She served in the Israeli army and is a respected journalist and author. She is also the senior fellow for Middle East affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. When Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked formed their new right-wing political party HaYamin HeHadash, they asked Glick to run for office. I meet her in Jerusalem, to discuss the major issues in the upcoming election.

 

Why did you decide to run for HaYamin HeHadash?

I’ve been writing about things that Israel should be doing in order to safeguard our national interests, our security, our international position and our relationship with Diaspora Jewry for many years. At a certain point, I started questioning if this is the most I can do and I thought that it would be worth checking to see if I could do more if I entered politics.

When the leaders of my party – Bennett and Shaked – approached me and asked me to join them, I thought this was going to be the right opportunity for me because they are the leaders I agree the most with.

U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated that his peace deal would require Israel to concede land to the Palestinians. Yet the leader of your party has vowed to stop any sort of land concessions. Will you be voting against one of the most, if not the most, pro-Israel U.S. presidents?

The good thing about the Trump administration – as opposed to the Obama administration, which was very hostile towards Israel – is that this Trump administration is very friendly and they really do want to ensure Israel’s security. Obviously, any land that they offer that would establish a Palestinian terrorist state, that’s going to shut down Ben Gurion International Airport, is not a plan that’s conducive to ensuring Israel’s security. But you can actually talk to these people. I know most of the senior administration officials very well and I’m not worried about having an exchange of ideas with them and explaining to them that this is not going to work for us. We’re simply not going to give up any land.

So what do you do with the millions of Palestinians who do not agree with the autonomy-plus solution you’re advocating for?

They have autonomy already.

But they also have national aspirations.

No. I think the PLO is a terrorist organization that exists to undermine, weaken and subvert Israel. And it does it’s job very well. But they don’t have almost anyone following them in Palestinian society any longer. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t even control Ramallah. The fact that people are looking at him as a legitimate leader when his term in office ended over 10 years ago is crazy. No one is asking the Palestinians what they actually want.

And what if they do want a Palestinian state?

Well, you have a state in Gaza. In Jordan, the overwhelming subjects of the king are Palestinian. So how many states do they need – three? I think two is enough.

Is not giving away land really realistic?

I think that the right has already won the argument about not giving away any land because the whole concept of, if you give away land there will be peace, has been proven to be wrong. When we give up land, we get terrorism and war and demonization.

 

READ: MICHAEL OREN: ANALYZING THE ISRAELI ELECTION

 

Shaked has been criticized by progressive pundits and activists because they think that, as justice minister, she tried to take away some of the power of the judiciary. How do you view her attempts to reform the checks and balances of Israeli democracy?

The left’s position on these things is that the meaning of democracy is the appointed bureaucracy and that the anti-democratic forces in Israel are the elected officials. We’ve seen the erosion of the power of the Knesset and of the government at the hands of appointed officials – justices, for examples – all of these unelected officials claiming that they are the ones who represent democracy in Israel. When in-fact, its the public servants, those who were elected by the people, who are the vessels of the sovereignty of the nation of Israel, as the will of the people is expressed in the ballot box. This is the main reason I came into politics. The key issue right now is whether the Knesset will be able to restore it’s power as a repository of the people’s will.

And this is what Shaked is doing?

Unless you have a 61-seat majority in the Knesset, there’s only so much you can do. She used her power last term to get conservative justices appointed to the Supreme Court. But there’s still a lot to get done. Laws need to be drafted to really put the weight on the kind of checks and balances we need on our legal system.

Many view this as being un-democratic.

Of course it’s democratic. We are a democracy where the people choose their representatives. The representatives who are elected are the ones who should be legislating laws and creating and implementing policies that reflect the wishes of the people, as those wishes express themselves on election day. That is how it works in a democracy.

Now you want to have judicial oversight, but you don’t want to have legal advisors making arbitrary decisions based on their ideology about what is or isn’t legal based on radical interpretations of the law. You also don’t want unelected justices on the Supreme Court making decisions based on a constitution that Israel doesn’t even have. So the whole discourse that we have is completely removed from reality and is about 10 degrees removed from any concept of democratic rule.

What if, for example, a racist law is passed, how would you battle racist laws?

We have laws that outlaw discrimination, we have laws that ensure equality of rights in this country. We are a legal democracy. Our legal code is very progressive. What we are saying is that the Knesset should be the legislature and not the courts.

As a members of the press, why does it seem that there is intense hostility between this current government and the Israeli media?

We have a very liberal bias in our media. It’s anti-Netanyahu and there’s a natural tendency by elected officials to lash out at anyone they feel is treating them unfairly. In Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s case, there’s probably some truth to that.

Do you believe that a prime minister who’s currently under investigation for fraud, who most likely will be indicted, should remain in office?

Israeli law is clear: the prime minister can continue in office until he gets a final verdict in a trial. In the case of Netanyahu’s legal issues, I’ve written about it extensively and I personally can’t understand what he’s being investigated for.

One of the cases involves Noni Mozes and his newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Netanyahu taped a conversation between himself and Mozes because he believed he was being extorted by Mozes. He never received anything from him. You have dozens of politicians who have a give-and-take relationship with the same newspaper and person and none of them are being investigated. I view this as very prejudiced against Netanyahu and very troubling.

In your writing, you deal extensively with the Diaspora and growing tensions between Israel and the progressive North American Jewish Diaspora. Why does it seem that we are headed into a major rift in the Jewish world?

There’s a desire among some American Jews to pick a fight with Israel, to try and justify their anger at Israel as a sort of a rallying cry for movements that are losing a lot of members. I don’t think that if Israel conceded to all of their demands that would be the end and they’ll just move on. I think what we have here is an American Jewish community that is searching for their identity. They are not exactly clear on what they want to be.

They see that Israel is successful and that we are the most important Jewish community in the world, while they are becoming more and more marginal, both in terms of numbers and in terms of their importance in the Jewish world. So there’s a lot of jealousy that’s informing the actions of some of these groups.

Also, you have increasing numbers of young Jewish groups that are anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, anti Jewish state, anti religion. So they are playing an outside role in trying to polarize sentiments among American Jews against Israel. Israel has to do more to talk to American Jews who are proud to be Jews and want to be Jews and explain that Israel is not rejecting them. Nobody in Israel is rejecting them at all.

What have you learned on the campaign trail so far?

It’s been a fantastic ride. I think that HaYamin HeHadash has a clear vision as to where Israel is going and where we need to go in order to secure our future. The exciting thing for me is that this is a party that really represents so many of the exact same positions that I have been advancing for so many years as a writer. So, if you like what I’ve written, you’re going to like what this party will do in the Knesset.