The Israeli Left’s Brain Drain

Ehud Barak, the one man who really tried to end the occupation, is treated like dirt by the left, while Amir Peretz, who joined forces with someone who is ready to sit in a government with Netanyahu, gets all the praise

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak holds a press conference at Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv on June 26, 2019.

The left will never forgive Ehud Barak for being told “no” by Yasser Arafat. They will continue to make up stories about how hard he pushed the Palestinians at the Camp David Summit in 2000 to make things fall apart. They’ll continue to adopt Palestinian narratives that say they weren’t offered enough territory (as if the gap between 92 percent and 93 percent is so significant). They’ll continue to make up all kinds of things, whatever is necessary, just to not acknowledge that even 100 percent of the territory, including a divided Jerusalem, would not have satisfied the Palestinian leader and would not have fulfilled the Palestinian ethos of the right of return.

In this sense, Barak ended what’s called “the occupation” and moved us into uncharted territory, where we maintain possession of the lands and resources of a neighboring people that also suffers from suicidal tendencies. A people that does not recognize the historical changes and developments of the past 120 years, which it also played a key role in shaping. This is the awful illness that Amos Oz in his last lecture called the disease of “Reconstructis” – going backward in time to keep chasing after something that is long gone.

With his maximalist offer (for what more could be offered beyond most of the territory and sovereignty over a capital in East Jerusalem that includes places holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims?), Barak exposed the sad fact that the Palestinians don’t want 1967 borders but all the land that the Romans, apparently, were the first to call Palestine. And it’s not that it’s impossible to understand the Palestinians’ claim to all the land, but this would necessarily have to come at the expense of the reasonable Zionist aspirations to sustain a Jewish national homeland (on some part of Palestine).

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So the left won’t forgive Barak for exposing the fact that the Palestinians are not willing to accept peace without the return of millions of people to Israel, and the left will not forgive Barak for exposing that even during the peace process, Arafat continued to treat the Zionist entity as an enemy (as when he compared the Oslo Accord to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah). For all of this, the left will never forgive Barak. Because Barak essentially slammed the door on the naïve presumption that our neighbor is just like us, practically our double.

But that is not so. Our neighbor is not like us in his worldview. Barak exposed all of this, in a way that no leftist had ever dared to do. He took a risk and was ready to sacrifice his political future – knowing that this could very likely be the end result – on the altar of the chance that our neighbors would choose the logical possibility of partition.

But the Palestinian leadership actually operates by a very different kind of logic: a logic of containment. They will go on containing and accepting the Zionist entity’s presence on the lands of Islam until its power evaporates and it reaches its expiration date. And it looks like they are right. Netanyahu’s Israel is on a course of spiritual contamination and self-destruction. In Israel, the term “brain drain” isn’t just about highly educated people fleeing the country for opportunity elsewhere, but about the entire Israeli public losing its head. And this is poses an existential danger.

This phenomenon has affected the left as well, including some of its chief exponents, who write in this newspaper. The one man who genuinely tried to end the occupation, knowing that if he succeeded – and even if he didn’t – it could definitely spell the end of his political career, is the one treated like dirt, while Avi Gabbay, essentially a Likudnik, is heralded as the right person.

Barak promised to be out of Lebanon within a year (with all the pain of the losses there, and here I am also speaking personally), and kept that promise, thereby undercutting Hezbollah’s legitimacy as an organization that resists Israel – he’s the one who is mocked in these pages? At the same time, praise is being showered on Amir Peretz, who delivered Labor to someone who, in her first interview, said she won’t rule out sitting in a Netanyahu government? Where has your brain fled, dear writers and readers?

The left, it seems, will not forgive Barak for being the best and worthiest candidate to come along since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Yes, he’s not such a nice guy (something I also got to experience myself, as a security guard outside his door for a year and a half). He is a man who knows how to handle power and won’t shy from using it when necessary. He’s not supposed to take care of your garden while you travel abroad or be all lovey-dovey when there’s a mighty struggle to be waged against creeping fascism.

He is the only man who can and should lead, if the left wants to live.