Neck-deep in the Jeffrey Epstein and Wexner Foundation affairs, Ehud Barak was a political dead horse. To extract himself, which is his expertise, Barak reverted to a typical behavior pattern, both in the army – remember the 1992 Ze’elim disaster? – and in politics: abandoning his subordinates.
Sure enough, when he “apologized” this week for the events of October 2000, when 12 Arab citizens of Israel were killed during clashes with security forces, a miracle occurred. The preoccupation with his dubious conduct disappeared, as though a magic wand had been waved from the headlines. Because the hatred of Netanyahu trumps all crimes.
The alarmed flight he led from Lebanon in 2000 caused the bloody intifada. As a direct result of Barak’s failure to end the daily carnage, the Palestinians in Israel smelled victory and launched the rebellion to help Yasser Arafat erase the “1948 results” as well. The riots included blocking roads, attacking Jewish transit, uprooting and burning symbols of the state and imposing a siege on Jewish communities.
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As the “strategist” Barak failed to foresee the intifada’s outbreak as a result of the weakness Arafat (justly) attributed to his flight from Lebanon, he likewise didn’t estimate its deadly repercussions on the Palestinian public in Israel. The areas of rebellion were not reinforced with the necessary number of troops and dozens of police officers were forced to defend themselves from thousands of rioters who wanted to tear them to pieces. To save themselves, the officers, at their commanders’ order, fired live bullets.
At the Or Commission, which investigated events of October 2000, Barak placed the responsibility on the wretched police officers. And this week, to legitimize himself to Meretz and the media, he released the “apology.” Yaron Meir, the police operations officer in the Galilee at the time, responded: “All the police officers under his command carried out his instructions. … I and a group of heroic policemen prevented thousands of rioters who threw stones, fire bombs and fireworks from reaching the Misgav communities’ junction. … Will you also apologize to the policemen and officers who suffered, who were put on trial, whose career was damaged?”
This is the moral-political profile of the man with whom Haaretz implored Meretz to unite and by implication, accept as its leader. When the objective is to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (and this time, too, because of the crowning this unreliable character), all Barak’s sins, failures, disputative nature and divisiveness have been forgotten. So has his greed, which is also greater than Netanuyahu’s.
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All it took to legitimize him joining Meretz was an apology, which nobody in its leadership – or the Palestinian public – believes is sincere. Yes, until the alliance with this deceitful man, many ideological rightists saw Meretz as a decent party. Even if crowning Barak – who will rule even from the 10th slot on the ticket – over the “real” left was sufficient to end Netanyahu’s rule, it would still be a stinking deal. The cause, especially in this case, does not justify the means.
But to go so far, even when nobody in Meretz really believes this alliance will topple Netanyahu, is corruption in itself. Barak is a red rag to the right no less than Netanyahu is to the left. From the moment the struggle was seen as “Barak or Netanyahu,” quite a few right-wing voters who were fed up with the latter returned to Likud’s fold.
Meretz’s leadership is lying to itself. In its heart it knows that by joining Barak, it has renounced its status as a sincere, truthful party. Selling its soul will perhaps garner it some unexpected Knesset seats in this election. Doom will come in the following one, when Barak will wreak havoc and devastation, as only he knows how.