When it comes to her political views, Caroline Glick has long been an open book. She’s written countless columns that run the gamut of political issues in Israel, focusing mostly on foreign relations and national security.
And now, Glick wants to take those views from the page to the Knesset, in Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s New Right Party.
“The ideas I’ve been communicating for 16 years in The Jerusalem Post are the same ideas and convictions that will be informing everything I do in the Knesset, and will play a major role in determining policies in this party going forward,” she said.
Speaking from her home in Efrat on Thursday, with her two dogs playing beside her and signs of her younger son’s birthday party from the day before still intact, Glick talked about why she’s decided to make this career change.
“I asked myself every day, how do I bring what I have to bear as an individual in the most significant way for the country and the Jewish people?” she said. “A lawmaker can make a significant difference for the country and the Jews worldwide. That’s why I decided to take this step.”
Glick hasn’t fallen into the trap of many rookie politicians who had previously found renown in other areas; she doesn’t expect to be a minister, and finds the fact that such an expectation is so common to be problematic.
“There is a lot to be done in the Knesset. There has been an erosion of checks and balances in Israel’s democracy... We have to strengthen the Knesset. Lawmakers need to view themselves not as subordinates of the Supreme Court, but as a co-equal branch of government – and we need to empower voices that see the importance of legislation in a parliamentary democracy,” she stated.
AS FOR what Glick hopes to do in the Knesset, a seat in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee would be her preference – because of her focus on diplomacy and national security strategy – but she also expressed an interest in the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.
Glick hopes to make Israel a more welcoming place for immigrants seeking to escape the rise of antisemitism in the West.
Citing recent data showing a 74% increase in antisemitism in France, Glick said that “people are sitting on their suitcases, and we need to make sure they can be put on El Al flights into Ben-Gurion Airport. [Israel] is the future of Jewry and where they should be coming, and I want to make sure they have the ability to do so.”
The New Right Party Knesset hopeful said the same about UK Jewry, in light of the rise of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and the greater empowerment of antisemitic elements in the political mainstream. “We want to make sure those concerned about their future in Britain know they have a home here.”
Among the ways Glick seeks to do that is to ease the transition into employment for adults – many French immigrants have had difficulty converting their professional qualifications – and for more schools to be prepared to absorb immigrant students in all grades.
Internationally, Glick hopes that “being in the Knesset will give me tools I haven’t had,” to defend Zionism around the world.
“Look at the whole assault on the concept of nationalism, or in our world, on Zionism, as though there’s something inherently wrong with a nation wanting to determine its path in the world,” she said. “It’s important to fight that fight in legislation and hasbara [public diplomacy]... It’s of critical importance to me, this country and the Jews.”
Glick brushed off the lament, often found in these pages and others when discussing relations between US Jewry and Israel, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s close ties to US President Donald Trump are hurting support for Israel.
“The accusation is baseless, just like the accusation that it was Netanyahu’s fault [that former US president Barack] Obama was hostile to Israel, [which] was a lie. Obama came in hostile to Israel. It’s not personal, it’s ideological.
“When we see [Rep.] Ilhan Omar [D-Minnesota] harass [US Special Envoy to Venezuela] Elliott Abrams in the House Foreign Affairs Committee and getting away with saying Jews control US foreign policy with their money,” the problem runs deeper than just Netanyahu or Trump, Glick posited.
“The Trump administration is clearly a friend of Israel. What do they expect Israel to do – abandon them so Democrats feel better about themselves? That’s not our job,” she said.
GLICK ALSO bucks what has become common wisdom about Israel’s relation to non-Orthodox Jewry being a central problem.
While the New Right Party supports the Western Wall compromise – which would expand the Kotel’s egalitarian section, with the cooperation of non-Orthodox leadership from abroad – it supports only Orthodox conversion in Israel, though with a broader range of Orthodox rabbis taking part, according to recommendations by former justice minister Moshe Nissim.
“I think [US Jews] have been subjected to interested parties telling them Israel doesn’t accept them, and I don’t think that’s fair,” Glick said, tying that to “statements put out on Israel’s Nation-State Law by leading Jewish organizations in the US that completely misconstrue this law.
“You see this sort of deliberate distortion of such basic statements that have always been taken for granted. [Is it] controversial that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people?”
Glick said that she wants to tell US Jews “flat out: Israel is not rejecting you. The people trying to tell you that’s the case are not telling the truth.”
At the same time, she said, “you cannot dictate what conversion policies should be in a country you have no intention of ever joining.
“If the constituency for Conservative and Reform [Jews in Israel] is negligible, what do you object to: that Israel is a democracy?” she scoffed.
At the same time, Glick said Israel could be doing more to “inspire” American Jewry.
GLICK RECOUNTED deciding to make aliyah when she was 12 – and made aliyah nine years later – because she was “so inspired by Zionism and Israel and what this country had done.
“We have to speak directly to young American Jews in a way that makes them excited about this country. The lack of excitement there is troubling,” she said.
Glick said that Birthright Israel is “fantastic,” but that some of Israel’s “messaging is insane.
“We want to attract people by showing them beaches and start-ups? That’s great, but it’s not just that: It’s a Zionist story!” she said enthusiastically. “This country is a walking, talking, breathing miracle. Why shouldn’t people want to be a part of it? It’s the most exciting thing to happen to the Jewish people since King David!
“There is no question that this is the place to be if you want to make Jewish history, and the most exciting time to be Jewish, bar none... Israel is a miracle staring them in the face; they have to be able to see it for what it is.”
Glick also took issue with those who say that it’s problematic for Israeli officials to call on Diaspora Jews to move to Israel – like this week, when Jewish organizations abroad criticized Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who said that the children and grandchildren of Diaspora Jews are unlikely to remain Jewish.
“Well, duh!” was her response to Liberman. “Oh, we’re not allowed to point out the vast statistical data smacking you right in the face every day? You know how much it costs to send a kid to Jewish day school in America?... Here I send my kid to Jewish day school 150 meters from my house, and people complain that they have to pay NIS 200 a year for trips.
“My family – all of them – live in America... They’re living great lives as Jews and as Americans... But nobody should apologize for making the pitch for aliyah,” she concluded.
GLICK’S 2014 BOOK The Israeli Solution advocates for the annexation of the entire West Bank, whereas New Right leader Bennett has called for annexing Area C – under total Israeli military and civilian control – with solutions for the rest of the West Bank to be determined later.
She said that there is no contradiction between the two plans, and supports efforts backed by Bennett and Shaked – as well as by their old party Bayit Yehudi and many Likud MKs – to start making moves toward applying Israeli law in the West Bank and freeing Area C from military government.
“It’s imperative that [this] be done immediately – and in the Knesset, you have a wide scope of operations” in that area, Glick explained.
Strategically, the reason to do so would be to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, which she called “a terror state capable of attacking and easily controlling the airspace over Ben-Gurion Airport.” But there’s a civil reason, as well.
“From the perspective of someone who lives in Judea and Samaria, [for example] in Efrat, you see that there’s a real civil rights issue here living under military law... There is a whole host of civil rights, property rights and education rights that are subordinate to the vagaries of the Civil Administration instead of being guaranteed by Israeli law,” she said.
For example, Glick said, if a school in the West Bank wants to add classrooms, it needs permission from an officer in the Civil Administration – as opposed to in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, where that would be a decision of the municipality.
Glick pointed out that the vast majority of Palestinians, in Areas A and B, have not lived under Israel military law since 1996, and she opposes the idea that their future is Israel’s responsibility.
“The Palestinians live under autonomous rule right now. They have a government that they elected. They were supposed to have new elections years ago, but that’s their issue. They live under self-rule. Why should we take that from them?” she asked. “They could live under autonomous rule or confederate with Jordan.”
She has been a strong supporter of Trump, but is concerned about what his upcoming peace plan could bring – in part because it could lead Netanyahu to leave the New Right out of his coalition, but more because of its broader possible implications.
“It’s mystifying that [Trump administration officials] think there’s a deal to be made, when there so obviously isn’t one from the Palestinian perspective,” she said.
And she’s skeptical about Israel’s stronger ties with the Arab world in recent years being a basis for a peace deal, saying: “We can’t idealize it; they are what they are. We don’t know how long these common interests are going to be maintained. You have to bear in mind: Why are the Saudis participating in conferences with Israelis?... [Because] they’re concerned about Iran.”
Trump’s “deal of the century” is likely to “cause us headaches” – but Glick said that Israel will still have to review it seriously and “see if there’s anything to work with.”
Still, she said that Trump’s administration has been “friendlier to Israel than any other.”
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