Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a much-discussed speech on Sunday, endorsing a demilitarized Palestinian state and responding to Pres. Barack Obama’s recent Cairo address, among other things. Caroline Glick took a few questions about it and the Iranian elections this morning.
Caroline is senior contributing editor of the Jerusalem Post and the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy. She’s also author of Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad. Here’s the conversation:
LOPEZ: Is it shocking Netanyahu would come out for a Palestinian state?
GLICK: It is not shocking that Netanyahu would set out the conditions under which he would agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Obama administration’s obsession with creating one in Israel’s heartland as quickly as possible regardless of the character of Palestinian society, Palestinian support for the destruction of Israel, and the close ties the U.S.-sponsored Palestinian Authority shares with global terror groups and state sponsors of terror like Hezbollah and Iran made it necessary for Israel’s premier to make it very clear what must happen before Israel will agree to proceed on this path.
LOPEZ: Is this anything remotely like a breakthrough?
GLICK: There are only two ways that Netanyahu’s speech can constitute a breakthrough. First, in the unlikely circumstance that the Obama administration actually cares about Israel’s concerns, Netanyahu’s speech should give the president and his advisors pause before they renew their massive pressure on Israel to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians.
Second, Netanyahu’s speech could empower Israel’s supporters in Congress to begin questioning the administration’s harsh treatment of the U.S.’s closest ally in the Middle East and so perhaps act as a break on the administration’s moves to steamroll Israel. Aside from that, what his speech served to do was expose just how radical the Palestinian and Arab position on Israel is. The Palestinians reacted to Netanyahu’s speech with calls to war in retaliation for his demand that they recognize Israel’s right to exist. This is not the sort of behavior one might expect from supposedly “moderate” Palestinian political leaders.
LOPEZ: Will the U.S. and Israel agree on settlements? Have we entered a chill in our relationship?
GLICK: Obama and his advisors have made clear that their view on the settlements is not based on facts. It is based on their acceptance of the false Arab narrative of the Middle East conflict. They accept Arab historical revisionism that places the cart before the horse by claiming that Israel’s presence in the disputed territories is the cause of the conflict when in fact Israel’s presence in the disputed territories is a consequence of their continuous attempts to invade and destroy Israel. Since the Obama administration’s view is based on a false assertion, it is impermeable to fact and rational argument and therefore it is unlikely to change.
LOPEZ: Is it significant that Netanyahu responded to Obama’s Cairo speech?
GLICK: It is very significant for Israel and world Jewry and perhaps for Israel’s supporters that Netanyahu responded to Obama’s Cairo speech. That speech was full of distortions of Jewish history and deeply dismissive of the Jewish claims to our homeland. It was absolutely necessary for Netanyahu to respond to Obama’s false and hideous assertion that Israel owes its creation to the Holocaust. And in explaining that the Holocaust could only happen because Israel didn’t exist at the time and by setting out the true 3,500-year-old Jewish connection to the land Netanyahu provided a necessary corrective to Obama’s move to write the Jewish people out of the history of the Middle East. Here too, Obama’s position is based on an Arab myth — most enthusiastically propounded today by the likes of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — that the Jews are interlopers in the region.
LOPEZ: How bad might that be if a new intifada begins? Or a war between Israel and a neighbor?
GLICK: If the Palestinians follow through with their threat to renew their terror war against Israel it will be quite bad. This is so not because Israel will be unable to defend itself. Israel has the means to defend itself. It will be quite bad because, in light of the hostile treatment Israel is suffering at the hands of the Obama administration, and given the central role the U.S. under Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton is playing in arming and training the Palestinian army that will likely be attacking Israeli targets in Judea and Samaria, the U.S. may well side with the Arabs against Israel. The administration is already placing limitations on arms sales to Israel. In this event, Israel will have to move quickly to find other suppliers.
It is unlikely today that Arab states will go to war with Israel, although that could change quickly if Iran acquires nuclear weapons. In that event, the Iranians will be in a position to blackmail Arab states like Egypt and Jordan into abrogating their peace treaties with Israel and opening hostilities against it. Iran would accomplish this task by threatening to overthrow the Mubarak regime and the Hashemite Kingdom. It is this specter — along with the specter of nuclear attack and chronic terror violence conducted under Iran’s nuclear umbrella — that makes it essential for Israel to move quickly to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
LOPEZ: How nervous is Israel about Ahmadinejad’s “reelection”?
GLICK: In a round about sort of way, Ahmadinejad’s “reelection” empowers Israel to take the necessary action. By stealing the election, Ahmadinejad now stands in open opposition to the Iranian people. This decreases the likelihood that the public will rally around the regime in the event of an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear installations.
Ahmadinejad’s open hatred of the U.S. and his humiliation of the Obama administration will similarly make it more difficult politically for the administration to prevent Israel from striking Iran. If before the Iranian elections it was easy to see the administration signing on to U.N. Security Council sanctions against Israel in the event of an Israeli strike against Iran, or even shooting down Israeli aircraft en route to Iran, in their aftermath, such prospects seem more unlikely.