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Bye-Bye Barak?

Bye-Bye Barak?

Ehud Barak, Israel’s current Defense Minister, announced he is retiring from politics.

The Times of Israel provides this brief bio:

Born on a kibbutz in 1942, Barak was central to the early successes of the IDF’s most elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, and is the most decorated soldier in Israeli Army history, having taken part in a number of daring raids that earned him a reputation as a defense stalwart.

He entered politics with the left-wing Labor Party in the mid-1990s and succeeded Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister in 1999, serving concurrently as defense minister.

As prime minister, he sought to conclude a permanent peace accord with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, initiating and participating in 2000′s abortive negotiations at Camp David hosted by US president Bill Clinton. Rebuffed by Arafat after offering an Israeli withdrawal from almost all of the West Bank, Barak later said he had “removed the mask” from Arafat, exposing the Palestinian leader as unwilling to agree to the compromises necessary for a viable two-state solution. Nonetheless, Barak remained committed to advancing talks with the Palestinians and was trounced in elections in 2001 by the hard-liner Ariel Sharon, forcing him out of politics.

After a failed bid for the head of Labor in 2005, he eventually won back the post of defense minister under Ehud Olmert in 2007 after rising from the ashes and winning the leadership of Labor for a second time.

After Netanyahu was elected for a second term in 2009, Barak stayed on as defense minister, eventually spinning off his own Independence party once Labor began to drift away from the ruling right-wing coalition.

I’m doubtful it will last, but for now, it’s news:

This is the second time Barak is resigning from politics. The first followed his loss of the premiership to Ariel Sharon in 2001. In 2002, Barak went into business, becoming a multi-millionaire, and returned to politics five years later as defense minister under then-prime minister Ehud Olmert.

The diminutive soldier is best remembered not for his politics, but for his actions in 1973:

She remembers the sounds of gunfire and people shouting in the street below. She remembers that the electricity suddenly went out in her apartment but that a strong light still shone through the peephole in her door.

She crept toward it and looked out but saw nothing. “Then I heard one word,” the woman, now 80, recalls. ” ‘Hit!’ I jumped back and my door exploded open. All the doors of the building flew open.”

It was just after midnight on April 10, 1973, and Israeli commandos had stormed her apartment building in the elegant Snoubra district of the Lebanese capital.

Minutes later, three senior officials of Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization were dead, shot in their homes in a bold undercover operation that shook the guerrilla movement and led to tensions between Lebanon and the PLO.

For Ehud Barak, the man who led the raid dressed as a woman, the operation still ranks as one of his commando unit’s greatest successes.

More details on Operation Spring of Youth are at the IDF blog, including the fact that another commando on that mission was Yoni Netanyahu, brother of Bibi, who later was killed during the Entebbe rescue operation.

Barak also led other operations, including the freeing of hostages on a Sabena Airlines plane which had been hijacked.  (Image showing him helping people off the airplane here.)

Prediction:  There will be a crisis (there always is in Israel) which will cause Barak to reconsider and he will come back, once again, as a rescuer.


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“…which will cause Barak to reconsider and he will come back, once again, as a rescuer.”

There is a syndrome like that…

It posits that there are three roles; rescuer, victim, victimizer.

Perversely, you can play all three roles over time. Dunno if it applies to Barak…

casualobserver | November 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

Barak’s apparent reason? Spending time with his family. At least in the U.S., such an excuse from politicians is almost always a screen or just rhetoric. I suspect there is some other unseen political aspect to this. It would be easy to suspect it has to do with the election, but not knowing Israeli politics, I don’t know how. After all, neither Barak nor Netanyahu have discounted the chance he is reappointed after the elections, should Bibi win again.

That must have been some outfit Barak was in (and with)!

I am hoping that your description of Barak’s glory is sarcastic, but I expect it is not. (What can you do with these non-Israelis, dependent on the newspapers.)

I am not qualified to say much about his military career, though there had always been talk of medal-inflation. but as a politician he was always bad news.

He also refused – as PM and Defense Minister – to meet with the parents of the three soldiers missing since the disastrous Sultan Yacoub battle (1982) in which he had a significant command position, to avoid the reminders of his own responsibility.

I expect he will resurface as a candidate to replace Shimon Peres when Peres’ term as President mercifully ends in a year and a half. Resigning now gives Barak the political time-out he needs to call himself a non-political candidate.

Subotai Bahadur | November 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm

While Ehud Barak’s military service overall was commendable [yeah, things don’t always work, in any military]; in his life as a politician he has been a tool of the American Left. His campaign for Prime Minister was orchestrated largely by Bill Clinton and Democrat political operatives were sent to run it. Once in office, he was willing to concede anything that the American Left wanted regardless of the threat to Israel. Israel was saved largely by the Palestinian tendency to never miss a chance to not accept any victory that does not involve an immediate Holocaust.

From the viewpoint of an American outside observer, I think it quite possible that he is leaving office because events are about to proceed to a point that renders his attempts at concessions moot.

Subotai Bahadur

Can we get our Barack to retire from politics as well? Please Santa! I’ve been very good all year ….

Be still my heart! For a minute there, when I read the headline hope surged, alas, when I noted the spelling of the name, that hope plummeted. Too much to hope for.

JackRussellTerrierist | November 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Good riddance. Make him stay gone this time.