From Gush Shalom
Ehud Barak on What Americans Don't Understand
(Image by YouTube, Channel: Belfer Center) Permission Details DMCA
EHUD BARAK has "broken the silence." He has published an article in The New York Times attacking our prime minister in the most abrasive terms. In other words, he has done exactly the same as the group of ex-soldiers who call themselves "Breaking the Silence," who are accused of washing our dirty linen abroad. They expose war crimes to which they have been witnesses, or even participants.
But apart from the attack on Binyamin Netanyahu, Barak has used the article to publish his Peace Plan. A former chief-of-staff of the Israeli army and a former prime minister, Barak is obviously planning a comeback, and his peace plan is part of the effort. There seems to be, anyhow, open season for Peace Plans in our region.
I respect the intelligence of Barak. Many years ago, when he was still the deputy chief-of-staff, he unexpectedly invited me for a talk. We discussed the military history of the 17th century (military history is an old hobby of mine) and I soon realized that he was a real expert. I enjoyed it very much.
On a spring evening In May 1999, I was part of a huge jubilant crowd in Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square after Barak had won the Knesset elections and become prime minister. He promised us "the dawn of a new day." In particular, he promised to make peace with the Palestinians.
Intellectually, Barak is superior to all other politicians on the Israeli scene. Soon enough it appeared that this may be a handicap.
Intelligent people tend to be arrogant. They despise people of lesser mental powers. Knowing that he had all the answers, Barak demanded that President Clinton call a meeting with Yasser Arafat.
On the morrow I spoke with Arafat and found him deeply worried. Nothing has been prepared, no prior exchange of views, nothing. He did not want to go to the meeting which he thought was bound to fail, but could not refuse an invitation from the president of the US.
The result was catastrophe. Barak, sure of himself as usual, presented his peace plan. It was more accommodating than any prior Israeli plan, but still fell far short of the Palestinians' minimum. The meeting broke up.
What does a diplomat do in such circumstances? He announces that "we had a fruitful exchange of views. We have not yet reached total agreement, but the negotiations will go on, and there will be more meetings, until we reach agreement."
Barak did not say that. Neither did he say: "Sorry, I am totally ignorant of the Palestinian point of view, and I shall now study it seriously."
Instead, Barak came home and announced that Israel had proposed the most generous terms ever, that the Palestinians had rejected everything, that the Palestinians want to throw us into the sea, that we have "no partner for peace."
If this had been declared by a right-wing politician, everybody would have shrugged. But coming from the leader of the Peace Camp, it was devastating. Its effects can be felt to this very day.
SO HERE comes Barak, the new Barak, with a brand-new Peace Plan. What does he say? The aim, he writes, is "separation" from the Palestinians. Not peace, not cooperation, just separation. Get rid of them. "Peace" is not popular just now.
How separation? Israel will annex the new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the "settlement blocs" -- the clusters of Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line but close to it. He agrees to "land swaps." And then comes the killer: "overall security responsibility in the West Bank will remain in the hands of the Israel Defense Forces as long as necessary."