(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Though indeed unfairly criticized and castigated, Israel must not descend into a psychology of “victimhood” but, rather, must take matters into its own hands and strive to change the reality, former prime minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday.
Barak, speaking at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center Conference just prior to an address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took the current government to task for falling prey to a victim mentality which he said leads to pessimism and passivity.
Zionism, Barak said in an impassioned speech, brought Israel back to the historical stage “to take our destiny in our hands,” and not be swept along by the tides and buried in victimhood.
Barak said that there are haters of Israel in the world for whom Israel’s actions don’t matter, and their enmity is toward the very existence of the state, not one policy or another.
This is true, he said, of the Iranian ayatollahs, Hezbollah, Hamas, and many leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
But it is not true of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, or Russian President Vladimir Putin. For them, he said, Israel’s actions do make a difference.
Barak said that a government headed by the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog would not be facing the current wave of BDS actions, because a government working to separate from the Palestinians would place “the burden of proof” on the Palestinians.
“International legitimacy is a fundamental source of power for Israel nowadays,” he said. “Had Israel been willing to concentrate the building in settlement blocs and stop outside of them, that would fundamentally change Israel’s situation. The lack of distinction between the settlement blocs and beyond them is very dangerous. The building beyond the settlement blocs essentially endangers the settlement blocs themselves.”
Barak warned against believing that Israel can control all the West Bank, and called for a regional arrangement, including the moderate Arab countries, the Palestinians and Israel.
“Toward the Palestinians, Israel can only give. But when dealing with the entire Arab world, Israel can get a lot. This is the source of a great opportunity in a regional arrangement,” he said.
While the Jews have the right to the Land of Israel, he said, “the physical borders in which a political nation fulfills its right are a different thing.”
Referring to the periods of King David and the Second Temple, Barak said that the borders moved then like an “accordion.”
“There was a divine promise then, too,” he said. “But the physical borders are determined by geostrategic reality.”