Now that Ehud Barak has been sufficiently resurrected to occupy the posts of Israel's Defense Minister, deputy prime minister and head of the Labor Party, and seems destined to remain for a long time at the center of Israel's political elite, it may be apropos to remind ourselves of the views of the late and sorely missed Israel Shahak regarding one of his chief bete noirs. --RB
(1993) Shahak's dislike for Chief of Staff Ehud Barak,
Shahak was particularly outraged by Ehud Barak when the latter was chief of Staff of the Israeli Army during Rabin’s tenure. In February 1993, Shahak translated two articles which detailed Barak’s behavior and then added his own comments. In the first article Alex Fishman reviewed Israeli Army regulations concerning the disposal of Palestinian victims of Israeli gunfire (Hadashot , Feb 12, 1993). In his notes, Shahak refers to the damage done to the Army by “Ehud Barak’s extravagance in mendacity and deceit.” Later Shahak makes reference to “The Nazi-like bestiality of the Israeli regime…evident in the official explanation of these regulations” which included disinterring some of the dead Palestinians, and requiring Palestinian burials to be held in the middle of the night, and limiting numbers of Palestinians who might attend. (From the Hebrew Press: Monthly Translations and Commentaries from Israel, by Israel Shahak, February, 1993, Volume V, No. 2, p. 27.)
The second article by Ranny Talmor also in Hadashot the same day took Chief of Staff Ehud Barak to task for misreporting the numbers of Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defense Forces. In his notes to the article, Shahak wrote:
Among the Israeli chiefs of staff, Barak beats all records of mendacity. Not only is his data mendacious, but so are his opinions about the situation in the territories. He is also an inveterate warmonger, always advocating wars against all conceivable enemies, from Lebanon to Iran. His warmongering is invariably accompanied by often crass assurances of easy Israeli victory. No wonder he is Rabin’s favorite. As Israeli folk wisdom claims, compared to Barak, even Rabin appears clever and reliable. (From the Hebrew Press: Monthly Translations and Commentaries from Israel, by Israel Shahak, February, 1993, Volume V, No. 2, p. 29.)
In note to an article discussing Iran as “A New Enemy in the Middle East,” Aluf Ben, Ha’aretz, Feb 4, 1993, Shahak had more harsh words about Ehud Barak. Mr. Ben made reference to a new Israeli military doctrine where the “aim is no longer territorial conquest. Shahak’s note pointed out that the
“doctrine implies a reliance on well-trained ‘elite units’ to physically eliminate enemy leaders and damage crucial installations heavily enough to determine the next war’s outcome. Although the idea is not mentioned in the article, another role of such ‘elite unites’ is to assure Israeli hegemony overt the entire Middle East without territorial conquests and permanent occupation of vast land areas. This insane doctrine is the brainchild of the two last Israeli chiefs of staff, Dan Shomron and the even more insane Ehud Bark, both of whom had devoted most of their military service to such ‘elite unites.’ In the summer of 1992 the concept was mercilessly criticized (unfortunately not without many censorial interventions) by several retired armor generals whom Rabin totally ignored. The doctrine has already been acted out against Hizbollah. The kidnapping of Sheikh Obeid and the assassination of Sheikh Mussawi (together with his family) were carried out in accordance with this insane doctrine with the expectation that Hizbollhah would thereby collapse, or at least ask Israel for a cease-fire. Thus, the Israeli army brass was completely surprised when the military power of Hizbollah subsequently increased, when it pursued its military operations from the position of greater strength. But making the Israeli arm revise any of its insane assumptions about the region did not suffice.
Readers may find it interesting to contrast Shahak’s views of Barak’s mendacity with Ehud Barak’s views of Arab mendacity as published in an interview with The New York Review of Books, June 13, 2002. (As quoted in a July 2002 article by Uri Avnery, “A Villa in the Jungle” available on the internet.)
Barak: “They (the Palestinians, and especially Arafat) are the products of a culture in which to tell a lie…creates no dissonance. They don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category…The deputy director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation told me that there are societies in which lie detector tests don’t work, societies in which lies do not create cognitive dissonance (on which the tests are based)."
“Ehud Barak and the Establishment of the Security Zone” Ha’olam Ha’ze, August 25, 1993, by Uzi Mahanaimi. In a note to a reference by the Israeli reporter on “the heroic days of Ehud Barak and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak” Israel Shahak writes:
Lipkin-Shahak is the deputy chief of staff. He, Barak, the commander of military intelligence, Uri Saguy, and several other important generals of the general staff, all began their military careers as commandos in the “General Staff Patrol”—the top elite unite of the Israeli army, their infantile outlook on military affairs was established at that period of their service. Barak and Lipkin-Shahak are very proud of having participated in the murder of Kanafani and several other PFLP cadres in Beirut.