Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick on the call for the end of the Olmert government in Israel
Jed Babbin, guest hosting for Hugh Hewitt today.
JB: Joining us to talk about that right now is my very dear friend, columnist for the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick. She’s written a column today that is entitled, The Olmert Government Must Go. Caroline is very, very passionate about that. Let me just read you one little paragraph from her column. “The Knesset must vote no confidence in this government, and the new elections must be carried out as soon as the law permits. If the Knesset hesitates in taking this required step, then the people of Israel must take to the streets in mass demonstrations, and demand that our representatives send Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and their comrades out to pasture.” Caroline Glick joins us right now from Jerusalem. Caroline, thanks for staying up so late.
CG: Well, thanks so much for having me on the show, Jed.
JB: Well, tell us what is going on, politically, in Israel today. Are people demanding, ready to get rid of Ehud Olmert and his crew?
CG: I think right now, what you’re seeing is people beginning to understand that they have to do something about this, because right now, in the Knesset, there aren’t the 61 votes necessary in order to force a no confidence vote in the government. And you see that Israel is just sort of a tinderbox. We had…I mean, we have people holding up their own personal demonstrations outside of the Knesset, had our first internet rally where people met on talkback on one of the news portals in Israel, and a few hundred of them got together just from that. I mean, you’re talking about spontaneous protests all over the country. And a lot of reservists are coming back now from Lebanon, and they’re very, very frustrated and angry. And I mean, they went to Lebanon in order to protect their country, and they weren’t given the right to do so by the government. So there’s a lot of very great frustration right now among a lot of people, and Hezbollah is declaring victory, and Syria is declaring victory, and Iran is declaring victory. And it’s absolutely clear that what this is, in fact, is a cease fire, but not the end of the war, and that it’s going to open up again, and people are very concerned, because it’s absolutely clear that the Olmert government is incapable of defending us. So I think…and I think that people right now are just getting ready to start acting. And I’m pretty sure that we’re going to see a thunderclap pretty soon.
JB: Who do you think is going to be the principal opposition? Is Benjamin Netanyahu going to be the man? Or someone else going to come out of the shadows?
CG: I think it’ll be Netanyahu. I think the problem is, and I mean, my major concern, personally, is that the situation is so dangerous now, and the government can’t handle it. And by Israeli law, even if the government were to fall in a no confidence vote tomorrow, we’d still have 90 days before an election, and so it’s not like we could have elections in two weeks from now, or something like that. So a lot…it’s a very dangerous time right now. I mean, our enemies are at the gates. The Syrian army is massed at the borders, just staring at our troops on the Golan Heights. They’re staring back at them, and everybody’s just watching one another. And it’s just a very, very unstable situation right now, and it’s very problematic to have this particular government at the helm of Israel right now. And there can’t be an immediate rectification of the situation. The government can’t fall tomorrow and be replaced by another government tomorrow, because it’s just not how you do it.
JB: Well, what is Olmert doing to try to preserve his status? I take it he doesn’t want to leave. He wants to preserve his prime ministership…
CG: So he’s trying to scapegoat the chief of staff of the army, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who himself is culpable for the military failure, and he also must go. But right now, it seems that there’s been a number of leaks that Halutz made some stock sales for the few hours after our reservists were taken hostage on July 12th, and they’re trying to make all sorts of insinuations of corruption, basically to try to change the subject.
JB: Well, let’s go back to the issue of the Syrians massing troops on your borders.
JB: Now the Syrians have never really been a great challenge to the IDF. I mean, you’ve rolled those guys up several times, and it would almost be a relief, I would think, to some of the IDF folks to have a conventional enemy sitting there that you could just go and take down, and with some really heavy air power applied to them. Is there almost an eagerness to take on Syria? Because they, after all, are one of the principal supporters of Hezbollah.
CG: I mean, Hezbollah’s operational bases are in Syria, and they were using those bases in Syria to direct the fighting for the past month. I think that there’s a hesitation in Israel to open up hostilities with Syria, because Syria has a mutual defense pact that it signed several months ago with Iran. What Syria has isn’t a good military. What they have is a good missile arsenal, just like Hezbollah has. Syria has scud missiles that are capable of covering all of Israel. It has chemical and biological weapons. So again, it’s a similar situation like with Hezbollah. The Syrian threat is really the threat to Israel civilians, not to the Israeli military. But I think that you’re right. I think that…and I had been saying at the beginning of this war that Israel should be bombing terror headquarters and Hezbollah bases in Syria from the air, because those would be very reasonable targets to be bombing from the air. And one of the biggest mistakes that the government made at the beginning was that they took the option of attacking Syria off of the table, which effectively ensured that Hezbollah’s supply line would remain open, because of course, Israel blockaded Lebanon from the air and from the sea, but their main convoys were coming from land. So it wasn’t that effective.
JB: Caroline, one of the things that’s puzzled me throughout this whole conflict, for about five weeks now, I have not understood why the Israeli government has been so reticent to just get out there and tell its story better. I mean, for Heaven sake, we had Vince Brooks, that very cool professional general up there doing a daily military brief every single day in the Iraq war. I mean, why isn’t the Israeli government that savvy? I mean, you guys pretty much invented the ability to get the message across. What’s falling down here? Is this just another thing that the Olmert government has missed?
CG: No, I think that the government can’t tell Israel’s side of the story, because it doesn’t understand the story to begin with.
CG: I think that they’ve been trying to believe that this is a limited threat, that Hezbollah is a stand alone enemy, and has nothing to do with the Palestinians. And as long as they have this false conceptualization of the war that’s being waged against Israel, they’re not going to be capable of giving Israel’s side of the story.
JB: In terms of…we’ve only got about one minute left. What do you think is going to happen in the next couple of weeks? Is Olmert going to fall?
CG: I think that you’re going to have a lot of mass demonstrations here. I think you’re going to see a lot of instability here in the government. I think you’re going to see him trying to turn to his political rivals and maybe try and get them to come into his government, or something like that. But I think that we’re going in for a period of a political storm here.
JB: Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, thanks very much for staying up to join us. Stay safe, my friend. We’ll talk to you again soon.
End of interview.