Ehud Barak Received $2.3 Million for Two Studies, One Was Not Completed, Wexner Foundation Says

Statement also clarifies Jeffrey Epstein's role as a trustee of the philanthropic foundation started by Leslie Wexner

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Ehud Barak speaking at the launch of the Democratic Union party, July 25, 2019.
Ehud Barak speaking at the launch of the Democratic Union party, July 25, 2019.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak received from the U.S.-based Wexner Foundation $2.3 million to conduct two studies, but he completed only one, the foundation said in a statement on Thursday.

Barak was paid to carry out a study about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and another on the subject of leadership, which he didn't finish, according to the foundation.

In the past, Barak refused to provide details on the services he provided to the foundation.

The foundation said that when Barak retired from public office it saw “a unique opportunity to employ him in research work which would ultimately yield two manuscripts: the first about the lessons accumulated from the Middle East conflict and the second about leadership, which would be used in the foundation’s leadership studies.”

The statement added that while Barak submitted “A 267-page study about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the foundation did not receive a “complete manuscript” about leadership.

According to the foundation, the statement was released “to put an end to ugly innuendos, speculations and rumors” intended to besmirch it unjustly.

It also addressed the role played by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in the operation of the foundation, started by Leslie Wexner. "Epstein's role was limited to handling documents and paperwork related to transferring the financial support of the Wexner family to the foundation," said the statement, adding that "Epstein never donated even a single dollar" to it. 

In an interview in 2018, Barak said it was improper to ask him what he had been paid for. “This demand came up among those in Netanyahu’s close circle, who are making a systematic effort to claim everyone is corrupt,” Barak told Razi Barkai on Army Radio at the time. “So they have an interest in finding a man who reached the top and show that he too is like them.”

Haaretz’s editorial called on Barak at the time to disclose what the foundation had paid him for. It said “Barak is not exempt from explaining to the public what he had been paid for. Did he conduct a study, and if so, to what end? Someone as active as Barak in political life, even outside the Knesset or a party, is not a ‘private citizen’ whose acts are known only to his employers and the tax authority – and he must explain to the public what service justifies such payment.”

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