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From the Left: The Case for Ehud Barak

Amidst the sounds of war, let us not forget that there are general elections scheduled to take place in Israel February 10. Even prior to the start of Operation Cast Lead, I was planning on making the case that Israeli citizens would do good for themselves, their country and the Jews of the world, by electing the Labor leader and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, as their next Prime Minister. I was aware then, as I do now, that he and his party trail far behind in the polls, which all predict a decisive win for the Likud party and its leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

              However, the case for Barak still has to be made, a job made somewhat easier by the events taking place in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. It is unfortunate that it has come to this, and that Barak’s qualities as a leader, and as a brilliant army straightest, were to be proven yet again this way. After all, he commanded brilliantly the elitist of all Israeli army units, Sayeret Matkal, was the IDF Chief of Staff and its most decorated Israeli soldier. Yet the people of Israel, during the lull between wars, and days full of economical woes and worries, have the tendency to forget these attributes of his. In the background of the disaster of the last war, The Second Lebanon War against Hezbullah, it is reassuring to know that the wheel of Israel’s security is being held again by a tough, experienced man, who knows where he is going, what he aims to achieve, and plans ahead of time before finally resorting to war.

              Barak was a prime minister before, of course, and was somewhat naïve then in his hope of bringing a lasting, comprehensive peace with all of Israel’s enemies and neighbors at once. But let’s give him one for trying. Had Arafat possessed the wisdom, the clear outlook and courage to accept the peace plan Israel and America—under the guidance and leadership of then President Clinton—were offering him back in the 2000 Camp David summit, he may not had been received as a hero in those same Gaza streets, but on the other hand we may have had a much more stabilizing peace, and Israel and the Palestinians would have been saved of two terrible Intifadas, countless of dead on both sides, and maybe a peace with Syria to boot.

Both Barak and Netanyahu are seeking second chance as Israel’s leaders. And while Netanyahu may also offer tough leadership, and a dedication to the security of Israel, he does not posses the wisdom and understanding of the necessity of peace. All he and his camp strive for is land; i.e. greater Israel, continuation of the disastrous, insane settlement policy in the occupied territories, and therefore the continuation of the forever-war. Tzipi Livni of Kadima, the third side in this troika, do understand the importance of peace, and she can be a tough and experienced negotiator; but like her mentor Ehud Olmert, she has little security and army commanding experience. Only Barak has both the security and peace efforts’ experience printed boldly on his resume, and he deserve therefore a second chance to try and achieve both.

He was not a beloved leader in Israel, Barak, prior to the launch of the current war on Hamas. His glaring faults, especially as a person, disturbed Israelis greatly; but even devout Labor members—such as my mother, who cannot forgive him his extravagant lifestyle as a labor leader and a kibbutznik born sabra—must now admit, as Haaratz reported January fifth, “… that the [Gaza] operation has highlighted Barak’s advantages and enabled a real discourse about the truly important matters… He’s not a pal—said one senior Labor official, he’s not nice, but he’s a leader. And now, people see that.”

I’m aware that the chances for this scenario—his election’s win (should there be an election as planned)—are still slim; even though, as I write this on January sixth, reports from Israel shows “a sharp rise in support for Labor in general and Barak in particular.” The war may drag on, it can still go wrong, and probably won’t lead to a quick resolution. Whatever may be the case, for those committed to the security of Israel, living peacefully among its neighbors—as apposed to war to the end of all days—it’s good to remember that Ehud Barak is the one leader who has the necessary qualities to achieve these goals. And, as an added bonus, we will have “Barack & Barak Ltd.” to take care of business. How’s that for a kicker?


2 Responses

  1. What a shame indeed! I hope those voted against it will depart, go back to the roots, and build a new Labor Party from the ground up.
    BTY: Did you design these T-shirts IDF soldiers apparently are wearing these days?

  2. In your piece “I had a dream” you wrote:

    …Yet the rise of Avigdor Lieberman, a Russian incarnation of the American Rabbi Kahane, and an equally racist extremist, was horrific just as my dream was. Here we have a former nightclub bouncer, “… our own Cossack,

    I guess for a nice and cushioned chair Barak is willing to sit across Liberman and the hell with ideology and principals, now that is a true leader for you.

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