The following book review was published inJerusalem Post on June 27, 2008.
By Caroline B. Glick Gefen
427 pages; $29.95
It is often said that either you are an idealist or a realist. Indeed, these two worldviews almost always clash. But Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, an American-Israeli with strong Zionist convictions, somehow embraces both with vigor. This has helped her produce consistently compelling commentary that wastes little time cutting to the very essence of the issues she explores.
Yet, in nearly every dispatch, Glick conveys either a subtle or even strong sense of frustration with her Israeli and Jewish-American audiences that refuse to wake up to the dangers that loom in the Middle East. Her first book, a well-structured compendium of her columns, may sadly serve as a map for the road not taken in the fight against radical Islam.
The seemingly endless Palestinian war against Israel is perhaps the greatest source of frustration for Glick. Several of her most compelling pieces hammer home the fact that the “Palestinian goal today is genocide,” and their “central organizing principle is the physical elimination of the Jewish people.” This should be obvious to most readers of Middle Eastern affairs. Yet a majority of American Jews and even Israelis continue to hold out hope for peace.
The author soundly rejects the notion that even the sweetest US or Israeli incentives can prod the Palestinians toward peace. She observes that the Palestinian people receive “more aid per capita than any people on earth” but prefer “poverty, violence and war to prosperity.” This applies to all Palestinians; while Hamas is typically vilified for its gruesome acts of terror, we cannot forget that Fatah maintains “goals that are incompatible with the continued existence of the State of Israel.” In other words, it has become impossible to separate the “general Palestinian population from those involved in terrorism.”
She arrives at the sound conclusion that “Palestinian society itself must be transformed before there is to be peaceful coexistence.”
Glick sums up Israel’s security predicament succinctly: Israel must find the “courage to recognize that security, not peace,” is the ultimate goal. Yet, she observes that her country is suffering from a “lack of outrage,” and Israelis have “gotten used to being killed.” She therefore yearns for Israel to win its security through a show of force on the battlefield.
The poor Israeli performance in the 2006 war against Hizbullah was a source of agitation for the author. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s military blunder not only weakened Israel’s deterrence in the Arab world, but it may have also weakened Israel’s Western alliances. Moving forward, she believes that only Israeli military victories will end the growing notion that Israel has become a “strategic liability for the West.”
Regarding Iran, Glick could not be any clearer. She notes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has started a “countdown to the next Holocaust” and that the “catastrophe that will follow an American collapse into isolationism and appeasement is undeniable.” She further warns that the failure to prevent Iran from going nuclear will result in “suffering, destruction and death on an unimaginable scale.”
To Glick’s chagrin, the international coalition necessary to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions has been moving at glacial speed. She therefore encourages her readers to support the growing movement led by several states in the US that are divesting their pension funds from companies that do business with Teheran.
But divestment for Glick is not enough. Through the pages of this book, she growls at Ahmadinejad, asserting that the maniacal Iranian leader uses Holocaust denial as a ruse among his county’s other dangerous foreign policies, so that appeasing nations can claim to stand against Iran “without actually doing anything to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
Looking beyond Iran, the author understands that the West is now engaged in a “world war” with Islamists, but yet most of us “do not notice it.” Glick is unrelenting in her insistence that “we must do everything to destroy them and nothing to give them hope for victory.” One key to this victory, she correctly notes, is strategic communication. Unfortunately, she notes, the enemies of the West continue “to define our world for us.” Put another way, the “leftist-Islamist front is eroding the free world’s sense of justice.” This is a battle the West continues to lose.
Notably, the battle is being lost quite badly on America’s university campuses. Indeed, “campuses throughout the Western world are known as hotbeds for radicalism” – including Israeli campuses. Glick notes that “educators,” such as Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, attack those who support Israel as bigoted or virulent. She observes that jihadists are now teaching the next generation in ways that “prevent us from seeing the dangers and defending ourselves.”
But, in the battle of ideas, the West is taking its worst drubbing over the war in Iraq. Glick, who was embedded with the US military during the Iraq War, immediately understood the importance of the US-led reconstruction efforts, and the need to properly explain the military operations there. Glick’s dispatches from her time in the field with American military men revealed her enduring patriotism for the country she left behind. She lambastes critics for “buying into Hizbullah’s psychological warfare in repeating the analogy between Iraq and Vietnam.” She notes that if the American public falls prey to the wrong messages, prompting the US to leave too early, the US would lose its standing “as the leader of the free world in the midst of a global war.”
While a great many of Glick’s observations ring true, the reader may not always walk away from Glick’s work nodding in agreement. For example, she asserts that during the 2006 war with Lebanon, the Bush administration supported Hizbullah’s claims to Mount Dov (also known as Shaba Farms), or that it sought to “appease Iran.” At another point, she claims that Bush has followed a string of US presidents who allow Israel to “beat Arab aggression militarily, but [force] it to lose the war politically.”
In a column last July, she warned that the US was pursuing an “alliance with Saudi Arabia with vigor while eschewing and downgrading its alliance with Israel.” Castigating Israel’s loyal ally – particularly an administration that has been incredibly supportive for eight years – hardly seems like a battle worth fighting.
In the end, however, Glick understands that radical Islam is the enemy. She snarls at the “rotten evil that characterizes the ideology of our enemies” and unabashedly states that defeating this enemy is the “mission of our generation.” Indeed, the author seeks to “pave the way for a secure, peaceful and moral future for our people and our world.”
The writer, a former US Treasury intelligence analyst, is director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center and author of the forthcoming book Hamas vs Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine(Palgrave, November 2008).