Sometimes a moment arrives when a journalist has to drop his tweezers and pick up a hammer. That’s the moment at which there is no point in mincing words; you have to come straight to the point: Ehud Barak has to go. He has to get out of our face.
The Middle East is on the brink of a conflagration with what is happening in Egypt, but look at the intrigues that are preoccupying the defense minister. This is the first time in his career that he has appointed a chief of staff, and what a murky concoction emerged from his kitchen.
This writer, like many others, was impressed at the time by his intelligence, his articulateness, his glorious military past and his ability to hypnotize the political establishment and part of the public and to make them believe that he was the one and only.
There were some who said that he had the Midas touch, referring to the mythological Greek king who turned everything he touched to gold.
But Barak is now turning out to be a reverse Midas: Whatever he touches turns to muck.
Look how he was elected prime minister and aroused great hopes, but then fell, leaving behind a trail of admirers and friends who were disappointed by his shady character.
During the period when he abandoned Labor in order to “look after his own interests,” he made enough money to purchase several apartments worth millions.
That arouses the suspicion that he is more suited to being a businessman than a prime minister. Had he been Russian, he would almost certainly have become a famous oligarch.
Barak’s attitude toward Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the whole saga of the appointment of Ashkenazi’s successor are a microcosm of his driven personality.
He cannot tolerate having anyone around him whose popularity overshadows his.
Ashkenazi, who was brought back to the army from retirement to be chief of staff, has done wonders in rehabilitating the army from the ravages of the Second Lebanon War and has gained the admiration of both the army’s top brass and public opinion.
He has also been portrayed in the media as someone who is not enthusiastic about the idea of Israel attacking Iran.
It is certainly possible that Barak felt Ashkenazi was overshadowing him, or that he might become a political threat in the future.
Barak began his ugly war against the chief of staff by declaring that his term would not be extended for a fifth year, and I believe Ashkenazi when he says that he didn’t ask for a fifth year, either directly or indirectly.
What was Barak so afraid of that he deserted Labor and left a vacuum? That Ashkenazi was liable to take his place, just like he himself abandoned the leadership of the Labor Party in its time of distress in order to continue serving as defense minister in the Benjamin Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman government?
In hindsight, it turns out that the civilian Moshe Arens, who didn’t serve in the IDF, was actually a more productive defense minister than Barak.
He established the Home Front Command and the Ground Forces Command and developed the Lavi fighter jet (the rights to which were later sold to China).
Perhaps Barak’s contribution was secret − like his illegal maid, the consulting business his wife wanted to establish with the help of his connections, or the additional apartments that he recently purchased.
Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor spent the last few years working on a comprehensive document about Israel’s security doctrine.
What ever happened to that document? Did Barak conduct a brainstorming session about it? Almost certainly not. The man doesn’t listen; dialogue for him is strictly one-way. He talks to himself and convinces himself that there is nobody like him.
His grudge against Ashkenazi, or his fears of Ashkenazi’s popularity, complicated the appointment of the next chief of staff and cast a heavy shadow over the purity of Barak’s considerations.
He did an injustice to Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant when he didn’t investigate or even conduct a preliminary inquiry when stories about Galant’s alleged seizure of lands near his home began to circulate. Barak and Netanyahu then canceled the appointment without a qualm.
He could have saved Galant had he asked Ashkenazi to continue to serve for a few more months. In spite of the bad blood between them, Ashkenazi is a responsible person and a true patriot. He would almost certainly have agreed.
Instead, Barak threw Galant to the dogs and appointed Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, the deputy chief of staff who until recently served as CEO of the Jerusalem light rail project, to serve as chief of staff for two months.
My heart broke when I saw Galant plead in a television interview for the country to defend him. Galant should have known that Israel is a country of drawers. Every time there is an appointment, a drawer is pulled out containing the sins of the past.
Michael Eitan is the only minister who opposed the appointment. Netanyahu didn’t heed his warnings, but proved once again that his word is nothing but pudding. And the driven Barak, who thinks God chose him to rule, both failed and caused Netanyahu to fail. Now, he has to go.
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