ehud barak face298 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
I did not like the way Ehud Barak behaved as prime minister. It is not to the political aspects of the job that I am referring, but rather to his personality. He was arrogant and tactless. I thought that he treated me with contempt because I was the head of an opposition party, but in time I learned that he treated the members of his own party even worse. And reams have already been written about how it was possible that such an intelligent person could be so insensitive on a personal level.
Barak claims to have learned his lesson. Some say that his new wife has taught him a thing or two about interpersonal relationships. I don't know whether that is true. What I do know is that Ehud Barak knows a thing or two about security and defense. In order to restore the public's sense of security, the security establishment must be headed by someone the public can trust.
Amir Peretz could have been defense minister in a government headed by Ariel Sharon. The public, government and the army knew that with Sharon the security of the state would ultimately be in the hands of the prime minister. And that that prime minister was a general, one of the best in the history of the Israel Defense Forces.
As a member of the ministerial committee for security affairs, I found it amusing to see just how much in control of the situation Sharon was. He let everyone have his say: ministers, generals, Mossad and Shin Bet heads. He would listen without saying a word, his eyes seeking out the nearest sandwich. Afterwards, he would sum up. In the summary, he would say what he had decided even before the debate. Here and there, a minister would pipe up, to preserve his self-respect. But we all knew that the matter was closed.
EHUD OLMERT does not have that kind of security prestige. Nor could he. And that is why the chair of defense minister must be occupied by a politician whom the prime minister and the public can rely on completely where security affairs are concerned, one whose authority the army can accept. And not only because he happens to be the minister in charge of security, but because they trust him.
Peretz does not have that authority. Nor could he. He lacks the necessary security background. The army does not respect his opinion. The public does not trust his judgment. True, he is a far warmer and more genial human being than Barak. He has more compassion for the poor and feels more passionate about the people in general. But that is not what is needed to be a defense minister.
It is a shame that Peretz does not understand this himself. He should realize on his own that, at this difficult time, the state and the people need a defense minister who will enable them to sleep well at night.
Ehud Barak is that man. Amir Peretz, sadly, is not.
This is neither a lottery nor a throw of the dice. It is the very future of the country that is at stake.
The writer is a former MK.