Analysis: When a leak reeks

"Israelis do not like leakers, snitches or scheming politicians."

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 24, 2015 06:56
2 minute read.
Ehud Barak

Ehud Barak. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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It is strange how leaks are sometimes timed perfectly to distract the public at a moment so convenient their motives appear obvious.

Last Tuesday, Haaretz reported that police were looking into whether former prime minister Ehud Barak failed to report capital he held overseas.

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Mysteriously, three days later, an old tape of Barak explaining how his intention to attack Iran was thwarted surfaced, attracting lead headlines in all the papers, and the scandal was forgotten.

Channel 1 reported Sunday night that the leak came from the authors of a book on Barak, who were upset at him for reneging on a commitment to promote the book. But, if Barak leaked the tape, it would be a calculated risk, since polls show the Israeli public is terrified of US President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.

The tape painted Barak as the savior who would have initiated a strike on Iran that would have preempted Obama’s initiative. It calls into question whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tacitly permitted ministers loyal to him to quash the strike, leading to the current circumstances.

With such a serious charge leveled at the prime minister, Barak could be trying to put a chink in the armor of the man polls show Israelis trust solely to prevent the nuclearization of Iran.

Perhaps, had Barak retained his former image as “Mr. Security” and “Israel’s most decorated soldier,” this attack could have been effective. But Barak lost his luster long ago.

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Had it been otherwise, he would have run in one of the last two elections. In fact, all polls show that Barak would be an electoral liability to any party, making a political comeback extremely doubtful.

There are reports, however, that Barak is interested in a comeback. Labor leader Isaac Herzog will decide on a date for his party’s primary soon, and it must be difficult for Barak to see his former aide sitting at the helm of the party he once led.

But this story is not the way to build a comeback.

Israelis do not like leakers, snitches or scheming politicians.

This is especially true when it comes to an issue on which they are so legitimately concerned. If there is anything Israelis take seriously, it is the threat of war. That is why the most popular minister in the cabinet is very often the defense minister.

Current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, for the most part, has retained his reputation as a professional – certainly more so than Barak when he held the job. He is not Amir Peretz, who Barak attacked effectively when the former held the position.

Ya’alon was smart to hold his fire and not stoop to Barak’s level by retaliating in a serious way.

But, then again, if a mysterious leak surfaces in the next few days against Barak, don’t be surprised.

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