Caroline Glick, a 36-year-old Chicago-born graduate of Columbia University and the Israeli Defence Force, is a ferocious Zionist hawk among Israel's journalists and a vehement enemy of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. When she visited Toronto this week, I asked her how Israelis feel about the war with Hezbollah. "Cheated and frustrated," she answered.
She thinks this may be the worst time ever for Israelis. Their country has suffered through earlier wars, "but in 1948 and 1967 we at least knew we had to win — and we were the good guys." This summer, as she sees it, Israel lacked the determination to win. And of course it's a long time since Israelis were considered the good guys. Around the world many people, even some Jews, think less highly of Israelis than they do of Palestinians who wrap their young people in dynamite and send them off to commit suicide and wanton murder.
Glick writes in Hebrew and English (the latter for the Jerusalem Post), she lectures at the Israeli war college, and she works on research projects at the Center for Security Policy in Washington. She's been an Israeli for 15 years, and for most of that time a severe critic of dangerous compromise.
In 1993 Glick read the declaration of principles signed on the White House lawn. Then a young lieutenant in the Israeli Defence Force, she was appalled by what the politicians and diplomats had come up with. "That was the most frightening moment of my life." It articulated the land-for-peace idea, which seemed reasonable in the West: Israel would surrender land in return for a workable peace treaty.
That was never more than a fairy tale, but it led Israelis into a long, foolish dance of diplomacy. Israel helped rehabilitate Yasser Arafat, a career terrorist and crook who then won a 1994 Nobel Peace Prize. Seven years later, Arafat made idiots of the Nobel committee, and every other political naif who believed him, by turning to terrorism again, no surprise to Glick.
She says Israelis have consistently misled themselves about their enemies, such as Fatah, Arafat's old outfit. "We have been deluding ourselves. It has been a terrorist organization all along. We saw it as our peace partner." Even today the Israelis — forever earnest, forever hopeful — talk about the Palestinians as partners in following "the road map" to peace.
Now the Olmert administration claims Israel won the 2006 war. But Glick argues that in five weeks Israel managed to undermine its alliance with America while handing Syria, Hezbollah and Iran their greatest diplomatic achievements.
The Americans, she says, have lost faith in Israel as an ally. George Bush "gave Israel every opportunity to win this war, even signalling clearly that Israel should feel free to go as far as Beirut if necessary," but discovered that Olmert didn't want to fight. "The Americans were shocked by Israel's performance."
She believes we should stop defining the Arab-Israel conflict as a territorial dispute and instead see Israel as the front line in the struggle against jihad. She thinks Benjamin Netanyahu (she once worked as his assistant) understands this reality, and, if elected prime minister at the head of Likud, will lead Israel in a more sensible direction.
By now, everyone except Olmert and his colleagues knows Israel is in trouble. Perhaps the only people in deeper trouble than the Israelis are the Palestinians. They seem even more eager than ever to put a noose around their own necks and tighten it. They voted for Hamas, a terrorist gang, in a democratic election, which prompted aid-giving countries to cut off their funds. As long-time UN aid dependants, they can't look after themselves. But Hamas would rather see Palestinians starve than recognize Israel's right to exist.
Recently Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, announced that Hamas had agreed to take part in a national unity government, but that plan was crumbling even as Abbas spoke. Any such government would involve some recognition of Israel, which is unacceptable to the director of the Hamas political bureau (who lives in Damascus, eating well).
Now it appears that the Palestinians (who supported Hitler, the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein) have become admirers of Hezbollah. A poll conducted by Israeli and Palestinian academics a week ago showed that 63% of Palestinians want to emulate Hezbollah and fire rockets at Israeli cities. It was as if they were going out of their way to demonstrate that the bleakest visions of Caroline Glick are no more than the simple truth.