Zur Hetzkampagne des Likud:
Wenn Ehud Barak Palästinenser wäre...
By Gideon Levy
1999 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved
What would have happened had Ehud Barak been born a
Palestinian?When I asked him this question on television, I never dreamed
that a year later the Likud would make such persistent use of his answer in
their election broadcasts. Only his advisers, who left the studio enraged,
and perhaps he himself, understood the problem that had been unleashed. But
is it really a problem?
Every evening I sit down and watch television and I fail to
understand - what, for heaven's sake, is wrong with Barak's answer? What
does he say that can harm him, undermine his fighting image or help his
adversaries? And, above all, how would Benjamin Netanyahu answer an
I just wanted to know how a person like Barak, who has spent
most of his life in the army, fighting Palestinians and killing more
than a few of them, saw the world from their point of view.
I wanted him to put himself for a minute in the shoes of those
who have lived all their life under the crushing boot of the occupation,
who have no reason to get up in the morning apart from their despair,
and who long to be a free people in their own country.
As Barak knows full well, even wars are planned using this kind
of simulation, an exercise that provides the best means of understanding
the other side's behavior. So I asked Barak my question and Barak
replied straightforwardly, "I would have joined a terrorist
Within hours the country was in turmoil, and no attention was
paid to the fact that Barak's answer was really the only possible
unevasive and true answer.
To his credit, it must be said that Barak has never tried to
alter his reply. If Ehud Barak, the much-lauded Israeli warrior, had
been born a Palestinian, he would have fought for his people; if another
ex-commando, Benjamin Netanyahu, had been born a Palestinian, he too
would have fought for his people - although less than Barak.
Barak and Netanyahu volunteered in their youth to serve in the
elite units of their nation's army. If they had been Palestinians, they
would not have had an army or an elite unit to volunteer for. They would
have volunteered for an organization that we refer to as a terrorist
organization and they would have called it a liberation movement, for
exactly the same reasons that led them to volunteer for "The Unit." From
this point of view, there is no difference between Barak and Netanyahu.
Barak has taken part in several morally questionable "wet jobs."
In "Spring of Youth," more than 50 Palestinian leaders and officials,
including those who certainly did not merit a death sentence, were
murdered in Beirut in 1973 under his command (and that of Amnon
Lipkin-Shahak). To Palestinian eyes, this was a terrorist action.
The man who proudly commanded "Spring of Youth" (Netanyahu would
be no less proud of taking part in such an operation) would have taken
equal pride in Palestinian actions that we describe as acts of
terror.And what else could a Palestinian Barak do? Would he have become
a Quisling for the Israeli Shin Bet security service and betrayed his
comrades? Would he have wandered through his home village, pointing out
houses with his head hidden by a hood? Encouraged prisoners to talk? And
what would a Palestinian Netanyahu have done? Traded in land with the
Israelis? Or would the commando officer have become a pacifist?
Ehud Barak, an Israeli patriot, would have been a Palestinian
patriot and as such, with his tendency to military affairs and to war,
would have joined a terrorist organization. And Netanyahu would have
done exactly the same.
The pair of them might not have blown up buses in the center of
cities, but they certainly would have taken up arms, and the only weapon
available to the Palestinians for years to counter the continuing
occupation was the weapon of terrorism. They had no other weapon.
One does not have to be an apologist for terrorism to understand
that no alternatives were available to the Palestinians in their
struggle for self-determination and independence.
The world - and Israel - only began to pay attention to their
problem when they began to struggle, and their struggle could only be a
violent struggle, even if they sinned by undertaking particularly
vicious activities that caused heavy damage to their own cause as well.
But the Intifada, it must be admitted, led to a change in
Israeli society's view of the Palestinian problem and also to the
world's recognition of their problem, even more than Arafat's
peregrinations. Airplane hijackings brought worldwide condemnation, but
also worldwide attention. The struggle for statehood sometimes takes the
path of violence, sadly, as we Israelis have learned only too well: How
many of our leaders started out as terrorists and have blood on their
The Palestinians, it must be said with courage, had no other way
except terror, for all the disgust that it arouses; Ehud Barak and
Benjamin Netanyahu would have had no other path than to join that armed
and cruel struggle if they had been born Palestinians.
If Netanyahu and his party are critical of Barak's courageous
reply, then they must supply an equally genuine alternative answer to a
wicked question. But there is none.
haGalil onLine -