It was a packed house of some 111 English-speakers that awaited Caroline Glick on a recent Sunday evening in a well-
appointed apartment in Jerusalem’s Abu Tor neighborhood. There was last-minute scurrying by the grandsons of the gracious host couple, Barry and Dorraine Gilbert Weiss, for more folding chairs. The audience was made up of Glick’s faithful readers, already missing her regular weekend column in The Jerusalem Post. She dove right in, explaining she would be talking about herself, something, she said, she didn’t do as a journalist. This time she would be the topic.
Glick made aliyah in 1991, and immediately volunteered in the army, a lone soldier. When she left, in 1996, she held the rank of captain. After the signing of the Oslo Accords, September, 1993, she was assigned to coordinate the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. During 1994 to 1996, she was part of the negotiating team, liaising with Arab officers, working out all the regulations. The signing had been the matrix; various arrangements needed to be made, different agreements implemented, following patterns set out by the accord.
She began to realize the thing was a “crock” (her word) and that only she seemed to think so. Towards the end of negotiations, she was required to translate a document in a totally secure room, alone, not even a pencil allowed with her. The document she had before her, she said, was “the dumbest thing I’d ever seen.” She was sure her professor at Columbia would have given it an F. Nevertheless, top secret or not, that same evening, on the 11 o’clock news, there it was, word for word, the material she had translated.
During those years after the signing of the Accords, multiple terrorist murders were committed in Israel almost every month. Israel petitioned the recently recognized Palestinian Authority to release the perpetrators they were protecting. The meeting to sign this latest document was held in Israel. Citizens lined the approaches and gathered outside the hotel, including families of victims, petitioning the Israeli negotiators to be cautious in formulating terms.
When Glick arrived at the hotel lobby, she witnessed the delegates ridiculing the protesters in derogatory and insulting terms, refuting any validity for their alarm. (The signs had said: “Go Slow!”) She was shocked. These negotiators had reality backwards. Terror murderers were being given refuge by the very people who were this day the supposed peace partners of the country she loved.
She had to make a decision. What Glick referred to as an epiphany of sorts happened to her. She was not quite 25. Everything in her life, her education, her career up to this moment, seemed to have been a training ground for something she now had to do. A choice was being presented to her. But what? Join the activists? Be their voice? Explain the underbelly of what was going on? And how to begin? She was still sworn to secrecy, 11 o’clock news or not. Yet she was certain it was no accident her life’s path had brought her to this crossroad. She was being given a great opportunity and a great responsibility. She could not walk away. This was her “Hineni” (Here I am) moment.
Fast forward to February 2014. Random House brought out her book, The Israeli Solution. Glick was on her way to Washington to promote it. The war named Operation Protective Edge began. She altered her book sales pitch to explain this new war. President Obama, favoring Hamas, restricted air travel to Ben-Gurion Airport. Caroline found an opportunity to discuss with Sen. Ted Cruz the anomaly of hampering Israel, when no similar action was taken in the Ukraine and other conflicts. Cruz and his contacts, together with Stephen Harper, then prime minister of Canada, had the restrictions lifted. Glick, the catalyst for this reversal, began to think of politics, trusting that the appropriate door would open when the timing was right. The request from Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked to join their new party met her criteria.
At this point Glick focused on her vision for the direction she’d like to see the country take. Israel has been allowing others to call the shots. She believes that a strong right-wing coalition would not have to cater to parochial interests, but could form a government in which priorities would coincide, allowing Israel to go forward on many issues that have habitually been going around in circles. She explained that votes for the New Right (Hayamin Hehadash), which blends secular and religious concerns, would put more backbone into the Knesset, enabling it to stand strong against the pressure of foreign entities that compromise Israel’s best interests.
The floor was open for questions. The sticky one was why did Bennett and Shaked leave a party of which they were already leaders? The answer has to do with their vision – that religious and secular people are, ultimately, going in the same direction. An amalgamation of special interest groups cannot move a government forward on a focused goal. This, Glick said, jived with her conviction that Israeli Jews cannot be plopped into pigeon holes, but instead are on a spectrum, a personal trajectory of faith and observance, according to each individual’s understanding of being Jewish. ■
The writer is a Canadian Israeli who splits the year between Jerusalem and Winnipeg.