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Opinion | Ehud Barak Was Right. The Occupation Would Rot Israel From Within

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Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has had some forecasts and predictions over the years that missed the mark. When he was defense minister in 2011, he was convinced that the civil war in Syria would lead to President Bashar Assad’s downfall within weeks. Barak is out of circulation and Assad is still with us.

In 2009, when Barak joined Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, he provided another assessment that proved false: that his partner would be “more Begin than Shamir” – that is, more moderate. In 2005, three months before Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, and six months before the establishment of the Kadima party, he reached another firm political conclusion: “The day after the disengagement, [Ariel] Sharon will not join Shimon Peres and Haim Ramon, but will create a ‘big bang.’ He won’t go with the left. On the contrary. He will go with the right and tell them they must close ranks and protect Judea and Samaria from the leftist softies who would give it all up.” In the same breath he predicted, with his typical self-assurance, that violence would run rampant under Mahmoud Abbas, and that we would “bury hundreds of people in a third intifada.”

For years, he’s been warning of a diplomatic isolation that would befall Israel due to its insistence on holding the occupied territories instead of negotiating with the Palestinians. Almost a decade ago, he assessed that soon we would have a narrow right-wing government that would hunker down even more in its self-perceived righteousness while clashing with the world, causing sharp economic sanctions and isolation. “Outside pressure will engender an atmosphere of self-justification, with people believing that the ‘whole world is against us,’ that ‘it’s a lost case,’ and that ‘we should get stronger in our belief in our just cause,’” he said in predicting the right wing’s reaction. “In closed rooms, or in some bubble, people form a view of reality that keeps moving away from actual reality.”

“A diplomatic tsunami,” Netanyahu quoted scornfully, citing Barak’s apocalyptic predictions while imitating the diction of his former elite unit commander. But the truth is that the events of recent weeks have proven that Barak was totally correct and that the tsunami is already upon us. Ostensibly, it appears that the direct reason U.S. President Joe Biden is shunning Netanyahu and the reason he is an unwelcome guest in European capitals is the intended judicial overhaul. However, under this cover apparently lurks another deeper reason.

In recent years, the world has lost interest in the occupation, but Netanyahu and his accomplices’ efforts to turn Israel into Hungary and Poland have torn off the mask, wrecking the mechanism of mental repression that was meant to protect our friends from recognizing that a country that’s been occupying another people for decades is not a liberal democracy. Netanyahu and his partners put an end to the masquerade. Apparently, in the White House and in Europe they now understand that the real reason (beside Netanyahu’s criminal cases) for the quest to destroy the judiciary is to shatter any brakes on expanding the occupation to the point of annexation.

They understand that – despite the fact that historically, the High Court of Justice enabled the settlement enterprise, meticulously guarding human rights mainly with the 1967 borders – the right still identifies it as a stumbling block that’s disrupting its grand plan. Listen to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who was furious that the High Court was “impeding the war on terror” by blocking a law that allowed the legitimization of illegal outposts, or to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who said that the “High Court forgot that we are a Jewish state,” and to Tally Gotliv, who accused the High Court of “blocking the demolition of terrorists’ houses.”

Barak, who a long time ago identified the link between perpetuating the occupation and the rise of a government with fascist attributes, added that he “rejects the Marxist thesis that says: Let’s make it worse before it gets better. But to say that this is not a possibility? It could happen.” Can something better arrive after a calamity? It’s doubtful that Barak was right this time too.

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Article source: Haaretz | Gidi Weitz |Apr 7, 2023

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000