Journalist turned politician Caroline Glick turns the spotlight on Blue and White Party, Israeli left
March 22, 2019
(JNS)-Caroline B. Glick, a senior columnist at Breitbart News, was the senior contributing and chief columnist for The Jerusalem Post until she decided to run for the Knesset in the upcoming April national elections.
Born in Houston, she grew up in Chicago and moved to Israel in 1991, two weeks after earning her bachelor's degree in political science from Columbia University. She joined the Israel Defense Forces that summer and served as an officer for five-and-a-half years.
From 1994-1996, as an IDF captain, Glick served in the Defense Ministry as a core member of Israel's negotiating team with the Palestinians. In 1997 and 1998, she served as assistant foreign-policy adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In its Israeli Independence Day supplement in 2003, the Israeli newspaper Maariv named her the most prominent woman in Israel. In January of this year, she joined the New Right Party and is currently in the sixth position on the party's electoral list.
In an exclusive interview with the JNS, she spoke of her legislative agenda and of what she feels is the deception of the Blue and White Party, which pretends to be center-right, but is really the left.
Q: How are you transitioning from journalist to politician?
CG: Well, all beginnings are a bit hard, but I chose to be with the people who share my values and goals for this country, so it has not been too hard.
Q: Why was there a need to break away from Jewish Home and form a new party, New Right when Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennet were the heads of that party anyway?
CG: Jewish Home is a religious sectoral party. When Shaked and Bennett joined it, their vision was to end its appeal only to the national religious sector by widening its appeal from the national religious sector to include all of the Jews in Israel. It shouldn't be a party just of a limited community, but a voice that comes out of one community and speaks to the whole nation. At the end of day, they realized that a leopard can't change its spots; it remained a national religious party, and the ability to bring in new constituents to that party was stymied by the very nature of the party. They had hoped to change an institution and realized that the institution did not want to be changed. Even as leaders of that party, they were not able to accomplish to be a voice for all Jews.
Q: Isn't New Right another version of the Hatehiya Party of the 1980s, which also wanted to prove that it was a party for all Jews in Israel, religious and secular alike?
CG: On the surface, it may look that way, but Hatehiya was not good at politics. They weren't able to get any of their positions implemented, they weren't able to change the way things were done in Israel, and ultimately, they played a key role in Yitzhak Rabin's premiership and the Oslo process. This was because they did not understand the way politics works.
I think Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett are two leaders who have a very clear ideological vision for this country and core beliefs that they act upon. But at the same time, they understand that as ministers you have limited powers, and you have to use them judiciously in order to institute gradual change.
Q: You wrote that "the authority of the Knesset to promulgate laws has diminished. The combined forces of the attorney general and the justices of the Supreme Court have seized not only the power to abrogate laws and interfere with the legislative process, but to dictate laws through legal opinions and judgments and the elected officials must be empowered to challenge this legal fraternity." If elected, how do you plan to challenge this?
CG: There are a whole series of things that have to be done; it is a legislative agenda. I think one of the things we have to do is to reconsider a lot of the basic laws and see if they have to be amended. I think the Judiciary Basic Law has to be amended to constrain the power of the High Court of Justice and balance it to restore the democratic balance of power between the three branches of government. We have to legislate amendments to the laws regarding the operation of the institution of the Attorney General. Right now, you have legal advisers who think they get to decide what the government can do and what it can't do, what the Knesset can legislate and what not. That is a problem because they are seizing powers that belong to the Knesset and to the government, the executive and legal advisers to prevent policies from being formulated or adopted. They do the same thing with legislation. It is, therefore, very important to restore the power to legislate and to restore the power to determine policy to the elected officials and remove it from unelected attorneys.
Although there were drafts put forward by Justice Minister Shaked regarding the position of the Attorney General [Avichai Mandelblit] and the means of selecting him, all of those legislative initiatives were stymied by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who had veto power over all legislative initiatives relating to the legal fraternity and used it to protect them from checks and balances. We are seeking to build a big enough party that will have the sufficient power in the next Knesset to ensure that the right-wing bloc will have the sufficient votes to make these changes and restore the democratic balance of power.
Q: What will you do if you have another Moshe Kahlon in the next Knesset who will veto your initiatives?
CG: That is why we are all campaigning so hard in order to win enough votes to bring to bear our ideological vision, which is also shared by the Likud. But the Likud as the governing party governed from the position of its strongest coalition parties. So in 2009, Netanyahu formed a coalition with the Labor Party with Ehud Barak as defense minister, and much of our policies were dictated by the nature of the coalition, so you had a release of thousands of terrorists from jail, you had freezing of construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria, and you had the Bar-Ilan speech. A lot of that was a response to the Obama administration, but it had also to do with the nature of the coalition. The same thing happened in 2013 when the first person to join Netanyahu's government was Tzipi Livni. She was appointed justice minister, and led the talks with the Palestinians and was ready to give up everything.
Q: How do you explain the position of the Israeli left after seeing what happened following the disengagement from Gaza, after seeing what happened after Oslo. They are still advocating for a Palestinian state, and a massive withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. How do they rationalize this?
CG: Part of it is social; they are part of a herd, and in a herd you are not allowed to think independently; people who do get punished. It is similar to what Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon is doing now by joining Benny Gantz's party and is going back on all the promises he made to the voters of the Likud. He is supposedly right-wing, and yet he wants to prevent the public from having any significant say in the way the country is governed by joining a party that pledged from the outset that it's going to block all reform in the legal fraternity.
On the other hand, the reason the center-right is the largest bloc in Israel is because people have become very disenchanted with the sort of cultish, irrational positions of the left, whether on strategic or economic or social issues. It's all about just following the line of the tribe.
Q: You worked with Benjamin Netanyahu back in 1997-98. Did he change ideologically since then?
CG: I think Netanyahu is a better politician today than he was during his first term in office. As I said before, the Likud is the ruling party and rules by an alliance with coalition partners, and the senior partners he has are the ones that set the tone of the way things are run. That is why I joined the New Right, which is an ideological party very attuned to the people of Israel, and wants to be that senior partner in the coalition to ensure that this ship is being steered in the right direction.
Q: If Israel is such an important ally to the United States, why would you think it wants to weaken Israel by presenting a plan that calls for withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, which would eventually lead to a Palestinian state?
CG: I cannot speak for the United States, but I can say that the Trump administration as opposed to the Obama administration are people to whom you can talk to. You couldn't talk to people in the Obama administration. During Obama's tenure, his national security adviser, Susan Rice, would not speak to the Israelis; it is an extraordinary thing, but it is true. That is not the case with the Trump administration. If the plan will include withdrawals, then Israel can say no and tell the president we cannot give [the Palestinians] any land because it would only empower them against us. We must take the land we already have, Area C, and apply Israeli law to it, and that is the end of the discussion.
Q: Do you think that in order to maintain the alliance Netanyahu made with Arab states in the region, he would be ready to go along with the Trump plan as is being leaked-withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, a Palestinian state, etc.?
CG: The Arabs need Israel more than Israel needs them. Let's be clear about this: The reason the Saudis are acting in condominium with Israel is because they need us. We don't have to pay for that.
Q: If, as you say, the Trump administration is very friendly towards Israel, then surely as the plan is being formulated, Netanyahu is in the loop about it, and yet there are leaks that this plan contains big chunks of withdrawals. Does that mean this plan has Netanyahu's consent?
CG: That is exactly what our party is about. We are running a party that is going to ensure that we don't have a Palestinian state. You can see that during the past four years of the Likud government, there was no talk of Palestinian statehood. That is because the Bayit Hayehudi were partners and not the Labor Party.
Q: If you get elected and offered a ministerial position, which ministry would you choose?
CG: We are not talking about it, but if I was offered a ministerial position, obviously it would be in areas where I have expertise, like foreign affairs and defense, Diaspora relations, aliyah.