Ehud Barak: Wikis


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Ehud Barak
אֵהוּד בָּרָק

In office
6 July 1999 – 7 March 2001
President Ezer Weizman

Moshe Katsav

Preceded by Benjamin Netanyahu
Succeeded by Ariel Sharon

Born February 12, 1942 (1942-02-12) (age 68)
Mishmar HaSharon,
Mandate Palestine
Political party Labor Party
Religion Judaism

Ehud Barak (Hebrew:About this sound אֵהוּד בָּרָק , born Ehud Brog on 12 February 1942) is an Israeli politician, former Prime Minister, and current Minister of Defense, deputy prime minister and leader of Israel's Labor Party.

Barak served as the 10th Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001. After losing the 2001 election, Barak embarked on a business career. On 12 June 2007 he completed a political comeback by winning the Labor Party leadership election. He was appointed as Minister of Defense, replacing outgoing party leader Amir Peretz.

Prior to his political career he served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces. Following a highly decorated career he was appointed the 14th Ramatkal (Head of General Staff) of the IDF.



Barak was born on 12 February 1942 in kibbutz Mishmar HaSharon in Mandate Palestine. He is the eldest of four sons of Esther (née Godin) and Israel Brog. Ehud hebraized his family name from "Brog" to "Barak" in 1959, when he joined the Israeli army.

His paternal grandparents, Frieda and Reuven Brog, were murdered in Pushelat, Lithuania in 1912, leaving his father orphaned at the age of two. Barak’s maternal grandparents, Elka and Shmuel Godin, died at Treblinka.

It was during his military service that he met his future wife, Nava (nee Cohen). They had three daughters together. Barak divorced Nava in August 2003. On 30 July 2007 Barak married Nili Priel in a small ceremony in his private residence.



Barak earned his bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1968, and his master's degree in engineering-economic systems in 1978 from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Military service

Ehud Brog joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1959. At that time he decided to change his name to "Barak", which means "lightning" or "shine" in Hebrew. He served in the IDF for 35 years, rising to the position of Chief of the General Staff and the rank of Rav Aluf, the highest in the Israeli military. During the Yom Kippur War, Barak commanded an improvised regiment of tanks which among other things, helped rescue paratrooper battalion 890 commanded by Yitzhak Mordechai who were suffering heavy losses in the Battle of the Chinese Farm.

Ehud Barak with Legion of Merit

During his service as a commando in the elite Sayeret Matkal, Barak led several highly acclaimed operations, such as: "Operation Isotope", the rescue mission to free the hostages onboard Sabena Flight 572 at Lod Airport in 1972; the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth in Beirut, in which he was disguised as a woman in order to assassinate members of the Palestine Liberation Organization; Barak was also a key architect of the June 1976 Operation Entebbe, another rescue mission to free the hostages of the Air France aircraft hijacked by terrorists and forced to land at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. These highly acclaimed operations, along with Operation Bayonet led to the dismantling of Palestinian terrorist cell Black September. It has been alluded that Barak also masterminded the Tunis Raid on April 16, 1988, in which PLO leader Abu Jihad was assassinated.[1]

Later he served as head of Aman, the Military Intelligence Directorate (1983–1985), head of Central Command (1986–1987) and Deputy Chief of the General Staff (1987–1991). He served as Chief of the General Staff between April 1, 1991 and January 1, 1995. During this period he implemented the first Oslo Accords and participated in the negotiations towards the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.

Barak was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service and four Chief of Staff citations (Tzalash HaRamatcal) for courage and operational excellence. These five decorations make him the most decorated soldier in Israeli history (jointly with close friend Nechemiah Cohen).[citation needed] He was also awarded, in 1993, the Legion of Merit (Commander) by the United States.[2]

Barak is also an expert in krav maga, the official martial art of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Barak at the Pentagon in 1999

Political career

As a politician, Barak served as Minister of the Interior (1995) and then as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995–1996). He was elected to the Knesset in 1996, where he served as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In 1996 Barak became the leader of the Labor Party.

Prime Minister of Israel

Barak was elected Prime Minister of Israel on 17 May 1999. Barak sparked controversy by deciding to form a coalition with the haredi party Shas who had received an unprecedented 17 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Shas grudgingly agreed to Barak's terms that they eject their leader Aryeh Deri, a convicted felon, and enact reform to "clean up" in-party corruption. Consequentially, the left wing Meretz party quit the coalition after they failed to agree on the powers to be given to a Shas deputy-minister in the Ministry of Education.

In 1999 Barak gave a campaign promise to end Israel's 22-year long occupation of Southern Lebanon within a year. On May 24, 2000 Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon. On October the 7th, 2000, three Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah and then subsequently killed. The bodies of these soldiers, along with the living Elhanan Tenenbaum, were eventually exchanged for Lebanese captives in 2004. Barak inaugurated peace negotiations with the PLO, which ultimately proved fruitless. Barak also took part in the Camp David 2000 Summit which was meant to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but failed. Barak also allowed Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami to attend the Taba Summit with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, after his government had fallen.

Domestic Issues

Barak was in power during the appointment of the Tal committee which dealt with the controversial issue of haredi Jews' exemption from military service. Riots in October 2000 led to the killing of 12 Israeli-Arabs and 1 Palestinian by Israel Police and one Israeli-Jewish civilian by Israeli Arabs. In 1999–2000, Israel experienced high growth rates (GDP) relative both to the economy’s past performance and by international standards.

Party leader, return to politics

In 2005, Barak announced his return to Israeli politics, and ran for leadership of the Labor Party in November. However, in light of his weak poll showings, Barak dropped out of the race early and declared his support for veteran statesman Shimon Peres.

After Peres lost the race to Amir Peretz and left the Labor party, Barak announced he would stay at the party, despite his shaky relationship with its newly elected leader. He declared, however, that he would not run for a spot on the Labor party's Knesset list for the March 2006 elections.

In January 2007 Barak launched a bid to recapture the leadership of the Labor party in a letter acknowledging "mistakes" and "inexperience" during his tenure as Prime Minister.[3] In early March 2007, a poll of Labor Party primary voters put Barak ahead of all other opponents, including current leader Amir Peretz.[4] In the first round of voting, on 28 May 2007, he gained 39% of the votes, more than his two closest rivals, but not enough to win the election.[5]

As a result, Barak faced a runoff against the second-place finisher, Ami Ayalon, on June 12, 2007, which he won by a narrow margin.[6]

Defense Minister

Ehud Barak and Condoleezza Rice

After winning back the leadership of the Labor party, Barak was sworn in as Minister of Defense on June 18, 2007, as part of Prime Minister Olmert's cabinet reshuffle. However on 1 July 2007, Barak led a successful effort in the Labor central committee to stipulate that Labor would leave the government coalition if Olmert did not resign by September or October 2007. At that time the Winograd Commission would publish its final report on the performance of the Israel Defense Forces and its civilian leadership. The preliminary Winograd report released earlier this year laid most of the blame on Olmert for poorly planning, executing, and reviewing war strategies in the 2006 conflict against Hezbollah.[citation needed]

During December 2008 through January 2009, Barak led (as defense minister) Operation Cast Lead.

2009 Knesset Elections

Labor won only 13 out of the 120 Knesset seats in the 2009 Knesset Elections, making them the fourth largest party. Barak and other Labor Party officials initially stated they would not take part in the next government. However, over the objections of some in the Labor party, Barak later reached an agreement under which Labor joined the governing coalition. Barak retained his position as Defense Minister.

Outside of politics

After losing the 2001 elections to Ariel Sharon, Barak left Israel to work as a senior advisor with U.S.-based Electronic Data Systems. He also partnered with a private equity company focused on "security-related" work.

In 2005, following his failed attempt to maintain leadership of the Labor party, Barak became a partner of the investment company SCP Private Equity Partners, Pennsylvania. He established a company "Ehud Barak Limited" which is thought to have made over NIS 30 million.[7]

References in popular culture

See also


  1. ^ BBC News - Long history of Israel's 'covert killing'
  2. ^ An image of Barak receiving the award on January 14, 1993 in The Pentagon. Note that according to IDF regulations foreign medals are not worn on the uniform.
  3. ^ Former Israeli PM Barak in New Leadership Bid Reuters, 7 January 2007
  4. ^ "Poll: Barak, Ayalon lead Peretz in the Labor leadership primaries" Haaretz, 3 March 2007)
  5. ^ "Peretz loses Israeli party vote". BBC News. 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  6. ^ "Barak wins Labor Party primary election: party officials" International Herald Tribune, 12 June 2007
  7. ^ Ehud Barak Ltd Haaretz
  8. ^ Dargis, Manohla (2005-12-23). "An Action Film About the Need to Talk". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 


  • Bregman, Ahron Elusive Peace: How the Holy Land Defeated America.
  • Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
  • Dromi, Uri (November 5, 2005). "Still craving peace 10 years after Rabin". New Straits Times, p. 20.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Shimon Peres
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer
Preceded by
Amir Peretz
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ehud Barak (Hebrew: אֵהוּד בָּרָק) (born Ehud Brog on February 12, 1942, in Mishmar HaSharon kibbutz, then British Mandate of Palestine) is an Israeli politician and was the 10th Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001.


  • .אם הייתי פלסטיני בגיל המתאים, הייתי נכנס בשלב מסוים לאחד מארגוני הטרור
    • Translation: If I were a Palestinian at the right age, I would have joined one of the terrorist organizations at a certain stage.
    • Interview by Gideon Levi, March 1998
  • There is another story, that we tried to impose upon him [Arafat] cantons, Bantustans. Total lie. We talked about 80%+ of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip. How can it become non-contiguous? And if you have some reservation against this or that curl of the border, at some corner, come to the table, negotiate it, and demand that this will be removed. I can go with you more and more, and I cannot afford spending more time on it, but basically, all these were stories that were invented in order to explain to his own people, and maybe to try to convince honest people in the free world how come that such an opportunity had been missed. Of course, I had my own demands, to protect Israel, to ensure our security, to make sure that we know where do we head. I said loud and clear: we have to put an end to this asymmetric process where we are supposed to give tangible assets, and the Palestinians have just to give vague promises about the nature of future relationship. I said I'm ready to go very far, but I want to know, now, that there is a partner, which is ready and capable to make tough decisions, and painful decisions. I was a great supporter of the peace of the brave, but never a supporter of peace of ostriches, where you put your head in the sand, let whatever happen, happen, and then wake up and say, OK, that's what happened. We cannot afford this approach. That's the reality.
  • [How is it consistent with what you advocated this evening in terms of a vision for peace, that you continued to allow the building of settlements in the West Bank, during your primeministership?] Let me tell you, first of all, during my term as a Prime Minister, we have not built a single new settlement. I ordered the dismantling of many voluntary -- I don't know how to call it -- new settlements that had been set on top of hills in different parts of the West Bank, basically. But, I allowed contracts, contracts that had been signed, legally, in Israel, beforehand. To build new neighborhoods in some big cities in the West Bank, cities with 25,000 or 30,000 people. And very few new homes, in small settlements, where youngsters, who came back from the army service, asked to build their home near the home of their parents. Now, Israel is a law-abiding state, you cannot break contracts, there is Supreme Court. If the government behaves in a way that is not proper, any individual can appeal and change whatever we decide. Realizing that this is a sensitive issue from the Palestinian side, I talked to Arafat, at the beginning of my term as a Prime Minister, and I told him: Mr. Chairman, I know that you are worried about it, it creates some problems, in your own constituency. But let me tell you, we have a great opportunity here to put an end to the whole conflict, in a year and a half. When President Clinton that invested unbelievable amount of energy and political capital in trying to solve it, and he's still in power. Now, I understand your problem with settlement if there is no end, there is no time limit, and you are afraid that maybe the accumulation of new settlements will change the nature of the situation, for the worse, from your position. So I tell you, out of our own considerations, independent of you, we have decided not to set even a single new settlement. We will not allow anyone to establish his own private initiatives on the hills, for our own reasons, not because of you. But at the same time I will respect any contract that has been signed, under law, in Israel. But -- and here is a point -- bearing in mind that we can put an end to the conflict, to reach an agreement within a year and a half, why the hell it will matter? To build a new building in Israel takes more than a year and a half, so you won't see any building that is not already emerging from the ground, having it's roof before we can reach an agreement. Now if such a building happens to be in a settlement that will become, under the agreement, part of the new independent Palestine, why the hell you have to care? Take it, use it, put some refugees in it. And if it will happen to be a part of what will be agreed, as Israel, in a mutual agreement that is signed by you, why the hell do you care, if you agree? I believe that that simple answer would not solve his public -- or internal political -- problems, but it would solve the real issue if the will was there to make peace, and not just to politically maneuver and manipulate.
  • ["DONALDSON: But on Friday, you were very pessimistic. You said, "No good," when someone asked you how things were going."] No, I'm saying even now, if I have to summarize the situation - in one word it's good, in two words, not good.
  • The Left is acting like a young child, saying 'I want peace'... A child says 'I want candy right away,' an adult takes all of the factors into account and understands who he's dealing with.

Quotes about Barak

  • His knowledge of war has fed a passion for peace."

External links

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