With the agreement that Labor will join Likud in Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government, Israel will retain Ehud Barak as defense minister. He brings considerable experience to the post.
Many nations have defense ministers who have little or no military experience. If a nation is large and strong enough, that isn’t necessarily a hindrance. For tiny Israel, they need all the help they can get.
In the spring of 1973, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir gave the order for members of Sayaret Matkal — the elite commando unit — to hunt down and kill those who carried out the brutal murders of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
“Operation Spring of Youth” did exactly that, as Palestinian terrorists were hunted down and eliminated.
Among those who did the hunting was one Ehud Barak. Landing on beaches by night, the team made its way to Beirut, Lebanon. Strolling down a street as a couple in love was in fact two members of the Unit. Barak carried an Uzi under his dress.
The PLO never knew what hit them.
Barak is Israel’s most decorated soldier, no easy feat in a nation of heroes.
He also served as prime minister from 1999-2001; his term was sandwiched between two other decorated veterans — Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon.
Barak and Netanyahu are political rivals. They most likely don’t like each other. Politics is a nasty, nasty business in Israel. Netanyahu needs a unity government in order to be installed as prime minister for a second time. Although Labor and Likud are the equivalent of Democrats and Republicans, Israel’s government functions as a collection of parties that come together to govern. With the Kadima party choosing not to join the government (party leader and current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has her own ambitious political plans), Likud has to reach out to others.
Netanyahu is also poised to name Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister. He is not well-liked by Leftists, since the charismatic Lieberman is a “hard-liner” when it comes to the Palestinians. Already, international diplomats are voicing displeasure over the ascension of Netanyahu and Lieberman. Watch for the Obama team to give the Israelis the cold shoulder.
When the PLO hijacked a Sabena airliner in 1972, in Tel Aviv, an Israeli commando team rescued the hostages; Netanyahu was wounded. Barak was part of his team, then, as well. At the time, Netanyahu’s team posed as airplane mechanics, dressed in white coveralls. They stormed the plane and eliminated the terrorist threat.
These are not men who shy away from danger. They will need all their courage to withstand the intense pressure that will come from their ostensible allies. Imagine what their enemies will do!
It is extraordinary to think what the Arabs could accomplish in the Middle East if they would work with the Israelis and turn away from a culture of death. Even in the desert south, the Israelis are reclaiming the land, with palm groves and innovative irrigation practices. From tourism to agriculture to hi-tech, the Israelis are light years ahead of their neighbors. All this done with at least one hand tied behind their backs!
In our flawed and fallen world, up is down and black is white. The Israelis are besieged, but are portrayed as aggressors. The intense pressure that their leaders are under is something most of us can’t imagine.
Israel’s new prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister will have to gather all their energies to navigate the nightmare of secular political solutions, which are all doomed to fail.
Let us pray earnestly for them as we await the coming of Israel’s Redeemer.
Israel's Netanyahu readies to present cabinet - AFP
Netanyahu vows 'every effort to reach viable peace' - Haaretz
Israel's Netanyahu pledges to seek Middle East peace - Reuters