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June 23, 2017 2:05 pm

Ehud Barak’s ‘Slippery Slope’

avatar by Ruthie Blum


Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Photo: Barak Weizmann / Wikimedia Commons.

In an interview Wednesday with Tim Sebastian — host of the program ‎‎”Conflict Zone” on German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle — former Israeli ‎Prime Minister Ehud Barak was at his worst. Not only did he fail at his initial ‎attempt to field Sebastian’s hostile questions, he ended up using the rhetoric of ‎Israel’s sworn enemies to answer them.‎

Sebastian, who was in Israel and the Palestinian Authority this week to record ‎a series of interviews pertaining to the anniversary of the Six-Day War (or, as the ‎DW website referred to it, “50 years after Israel captured East Jerusalem, the ‎West Bank and Gaza”), pounded on Barak to acknowledge that the 1967 war ‎was an act of Israeli aggression, and that Israeli government control over a ‎Palestinian population that has no say in its election is immoral. ‎

Rather than blasting Sebastian for misrepresenting the entire issue, Barak ‎replied, “I do not start my consideration from the moral issues.” ‎

‎”Why not? You don’t care about morality?” Sebastian asked.‎

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‎”I care about morality,” Barak said. “But I care more about our very survival ‎in life. And I should tell you that I do not disagree with the bottom line of what ‎you are trying to kind of somehow argue. The situation that has been created is ‎such that Israel faces a choice. If we keep controlling the whole area from the ‎Mediterranean to the River Jordan, where some 13 million people are living — ‎‎8 million Israelis, 5 million Palestinians, that if only one entity reigned over ‎this whole area, namely Israel, it would become inevitably — that’s a key word, ‎inevitably — either non-Jewish or non-democratic…”‎

Sebastian interjected, “But the state you have at the moment is an apartheid ‎state, isn’t it?”‎

Barak nodded and continued: “It’s not yet an apartheid [state], but it might ‎come on the slippery slope toward apartheid.”‎

Barak added the caveat that it was the Arabs who initiated the situation, but ‎by then it was too late. He had used, or rather abused, the “A” word. It did not ‎matter what he said after that. Sebastian’s mission was accomplished. He had ‎gotten the former Israeli leader — whose desperate attempt to appease PLO ‎chief Yasser Arafat by offering him “land for peace” led to the launch in 2000 ‎of a brutal suicide-bombing war against innocent Jews — to employ the rhetoric ‎of antisemites. ‎

Indeed, accusing Israel of apartheid is the cornerstone of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, whose purpose is to criminalize Jewish ‎statehood. Occasionally pretending only to oppose the “occupation” of ‎territory that Israel liberated from Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967, BDS ‎actually considers Israel’s establishment in 1948 as the root of all evil.‎

All Barak needed to do to undermine the painstaking efforts of Israel-‎supporters at home and abroad to counteract the vicious campaign in the ‎media, on campus and at the UN to delegitimize the Jewish state, was to utter ‎the word “apartheid.”‎

How sadly ironic that Barak’s interview with a German news outlet coincided ‎with a controversy in Germany over the broadcasting of a documentary about ‎antisemitism in Europe. The 90-minute film, called “Chosen and Excluded — ‎The Hate for Jews in Europe,” was shelved for months, after being ‎commissioned by the French-German network ARTE and WDR, both funded ‎by the German government. Once the film was completed, the networks ‎refused to air it, due to what they claimed were its technical flaws, and to the ‎fact that its creators, Joachim Schroeder and Sophie Hafner, included too much ‎footage from Israel.‎

This was nonsense, of course. It was shelved because of what it exposed: the ‎virulent antisemitism of Europe’s Muslims; Europe’s sympathy for ‎Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, even as he spreads classical ‎antisemitic blood libels; the financing by European governments of antisemitic and anti-Israel groups disguised as charitable nongovernmental organizations; and Israel’s ‎treating of Palestinians in its hospitals. Had it not been for public pressure, the ‎film would have remained under wraps. It was finally aired on Wednesday ‎night on Germany’s Channel 1, amid attempts on the part of much of the ‎country’s mainstream and left-wing media outlets to completely discredit its ‎content. ‎

That Barak was bandying around the word “apartheid” that very evening is ‎beyond appalling. It is bad enough when Israeli journalists and academics ‎provide European antisemites a cloak of legitimacy for their anti-Zionism. ‎But it is criminally negligent for a former head of the besieged Jewish state to ‎do so. Barak ought to know better, particularly if he intends on returning to ‎politics — something he hinted at on Thursday night during his address to the ‎annual Herzliya Policy Conference.‎

If the government does not pull itself together, Barak said, “it will be ‎incumbent on all of us … to get up out of our seats … and topple it through ‎mass protests and the ballot box, before it’s too late.”‎

Barak is kidding himself if he thinks that a majority of the Israeli public — ‎finally fed up with the fantasy of achieving peace with terrorists — would ever ‎support a candidate who claimed that the Jewish state was on a “slippery ‎slope to apartheid,” certainly not on a German network. Most of us know full ‎well that it is Barak’s words, not his country, that need delegitimizing.‎

This article originally appeared in Israel Hayom. Ruthie Blum is an editor at the Gatestone Institute.

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