Ehud Barak’s ‘slippery slope’

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 anti-Semitism in Europe.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Barak in 2013 (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In an interview last Wednesday with Tim Sebastian – host of the program Conflict Zone on German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle – former 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 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.
“I care about morality,” Barak said. “But I care more about our very survival.... 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 – eight million Israelis, five 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 (BDS) 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 anti-Semitism 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 Schröder 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 NGOs; 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, which need delegitimizing.
The writer is an editor at the Gatestone Institute.