In case you missed it, take a listen to Savage’s interview with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
“The lessons are written in the Talmud. Don’t accelerate the Messiah. Don’t try here on earth to act as if He is too patient and you want to prod him into action. Secondly, don’t climb the wall, don’t challenge the biggest powers of the time as we did with the Babylons and later on with the Romans. And third, avoid at any price hatred among brothers within the people of Israel.”
TRANSCRIPT AS FOLLOWS:
Savage: “Today we’re speaking with the tenth Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, on The Savage Nation. He was a leader of the Labor Party until 2011. He previously had held the post of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Israel. But he’s also the most highly decorated soldier in Israel’s history, having taken part in many famous battles and combat missions. It’s an amazing career, an amazing man, and we’re going to begin now. Prime Minister Barak, welcome to The Savage Nation.”
Barak: “Thank you for having me.”
Savage: “Now, you have long been an advocate for a two-state solution in Israel. Can you explain how this would work?”
Barak: “Oh, when the situation is right, it will work very basically simply. It’s painful, but simple. We will delineate a line within the promised Holy Land within which we’ll have, you know, Israel as we know it, the settlement blocks where 80% of the settlers are living together with the Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. And all these areas together do not cover more than six or eight percent of the West Bank, which will be compensated for through certain land swaps. And we will have a line within which we will have a solid Jewish majority for generations to come. Beyond it there will be an area full of Palestinians where we will still control the security events as long as we do not have an acceptable arrangement which protects our security, but basically it will be a place where the Palestinians can have their viable demilitarized Palestinian state. So that’s basically – we will have a wall. They won’t pay for it. We’ll pay for it. But there will be a wall and a border that we hope will be respected. And as the poet Robert Frost once put it, good fences make good neighbors. So this good barrier will help us to cooperate on many issues.”
Savage: And has it (unintelligible)…
Barak: “It’s not (unintelligible) now because the situation is not yet right, but when the time is right, it will be painful but relatively or technically simple.”
Savage: “Prime Minister, you have recommended a two-state solution going back a long time, haven’t you?”
Barak: “Yeah, more than 15 years.”
Savage: “And have any of the Palestinian leaders ever accepted the idea of the Jewish state adjacent to a so-called Palestinian nation?”
Barak: “Yeah, yeah. They accept the Jewish state for sure. I know not at the very beginning when I was a kid and 70 years ago the new general assembly made the partition plan, which ended making a Jewish state and Arab state. Then they rejected an open wall and invited all the Arab countries. We warned them we will never be apologetic of this. And later on, you know, Arafat rejected it in 2000 when…I met with him together with President Clinton trying to achieve peace. We offered a very far-reaching proposal, which might cover metaphorically 95% of whatever he can think of, and asked him to take it (unintelligible) for negotiation. He rejected (unintelligible) so that’s his responsibility. But since then there (unintelligible). Now there is an Arab League proposal (unintelligible) Arabian proposal, which was basically a proposal to make peace based on the 67 lines and recognize Israel and so on. And, you know, these are short of perfect plans. We cannot accept them as they are. We have many reservations. But I do not agree that it cannot be a basis for future negotiation when the Palestinian leadership is ripe for it.”
Savage: “Now this is all discussed in your incredible book My Country, My Life by Ehud Barak that’s just been published, Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace. You know, if this were coming from a standard politician who had no military history, people would shrug it off, but it’s coming from a war hero, and that is what’s most intriguing to me. Many people do not understand that you have been there and done that 1000 times over. And one of your main points in this book that I found most intriguing, Mr. Barak, is that you say the democratic principles and the core values of Zionism are what you’re standing for, but you also say that Israel’s own security and national interest would dictate that however long it might take, a two-state solution is the only conceivable destination. Now, many people would argue — and that would be mainly Americans I would assume, except perhaps the ultra-orthodox in Israel as well — that not one hector of Jewish land should be given to the Palestinians, which I find untenable because there are four million people who don’t agree with that position and they’re not going anywhere. But aside from that, how would you prevent a Palestinian nation in the future from wanting what Israel has, which would be an air force and an army? And once that air force and army were to be developed, would they not then continue on the footing that they’re on now, which is to annihilate the Jewish presence?”
Barak: “Oh, it’s a complicated question. It might take an hour to fully answer. But let me put the following (unintelligible). First of all, in Israel most of people with my background, most of people who spent decades fighting for Israel’s security, be it in the IDS, in the armed forces, or in the secret service in Shabak, or in the Mossad, or in the police, 90% of them believe, like me and like our government, that the objective and the only sustainable arrangement is a two-state solution. So that’s for one. Second…”
Savage: “Well that’s very important for us to hear, because we don’t hear from your side of the aisle. We only hear from the religious. So let’s let that go, because as you say it’s far too complicated for a brief interview on the radio, and I know your time is very short. Now, I want to go, if you don’t mind, Prime Minister Barak, to the shared capital in Jerusalem. I visited with President Trump in the White House a few weeks ago. I was a guest of his for over 30 minutes, and then with the Vice President for 30 minutes. I’m a great supporter of President Trump. However, I’ve expressed on this program as of this Monday that I think the timing was terrible to open the embassy and move the embassy to Jerusalem. Do you believe the movement of America’s embassy was wise at this time?”
Barak: “Yeah, it was wise, important, and we are thankful as Israelis for President Trump for making this decision. It had to happen, to the best of my judgment, 70 years ago, immediately after President Truman was the first to recognize the newly emerging state of Israel. For sure it had to happen in the last 25 years, when a bipartisan resolution in Congress almost gave an order to the president to do it. I think that unlike the urban legend that it should alienate the Palestinians and the Arabs, it does not really exclude the possibility — I would say the certainty — that once the Palestinians come to grip with reality and become ready to strike a deal with us, they will have their own Palestinian state with a capital. Probably some suburbs of Jerusalem might be included in the capital that they might call Al-Quds, which is Jerusalem in Arabic. And for sure an American embassy will be established there. So I don’t see the great story or the great reason for alienation. And I found it symbolic that it happened exactly on the 70th anniversary of the announcement of Israel. And probably the reason for a lot of the Palestinian rage is the fact that this is the day where they celebrate what they call the catastrophe, the Nakba, namely the establishment of Israel.(Unintelligible) old enough to remember that’s what I put to Clinton and Arafat when we sat together at Camp David in 2000. I told the President, “Mr. President, you had not yet been born.” I mean Clinton. But Arafat was a young teenager and I was a kid. And we well remember after this partition plan at the UN in November ’47 to establish two states, Jewish state and Arab state, Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel, accepted on behalf of the Zionist movement. He accepted the plan, and the Palestinians rejected it. And the moment Israel came into existence, they invited all the Arab armies from five different armies to try to kill baby Israel before it can stand on its feet. And that’s why I told Clinton in front of Arafat, “We will never be apologetic, neither about this issue of what you call the catastrophe and not even for the issue of refugees.” Because it’s true that 650,000 Arabs left what became Israel, but 650,000 Jews from all over the Arab world came into Israel. We never called them refugees. We called them brothers. We absorbed them. And nowadays a majority of Israel are the offspring of these Jews who were expelled from the Arab world.”
Savage: “You know, I’m reading your incredible book, My Country, My Life. Again, ladies and gentlemen of The Savage Nation in America and around the world, we’re speaking with Ehud Barak, who has written an amazing book that I recommend, My Country, My Life. It’s more than politics. It’s also a personal story of Mr. Barak. But, you know, we’re speaking about the shared capital for the moment, and you know more about it than I do. What I fear is that this became a galvanizing moment for the enemies of Israel, especially Turkey now, which has a sizeable military. Do you think that that is more posturing than it is a threat to the survival of Israel?”
Barak: “Look, after 70 years, seven wars, two intifadas, an infinite number of operations in between, Israel – and that’s one of our major achievements. The strongest country 1000 miles around Jerusalem, from Benghazi in Libya to Tehran, including those two capitals, no single enemy or combination of neighbors can create an existential threat to Israel. Of course they can harass us. They can cost us loss of life. They can impose a war. You know, usually a war can be imposed by one side. But Israel is strong enough. And I’m confident that out of this position of strength we should master the self-confidence to be ready to defend ourselves. Turkey is not an enemy for fighting. You know? We have a very close economic relationship. There are many other interests than war. The rhetoric of Erdoğan is hard to absorb and listen to and should be responded to from time to time. But there are too many interests between us and Turkey to let it deteriorate into actual war. But let’s not worry about the Hezbollah in Lebanon or probably some Iranian proxies. But even Iran has a potential in the long term, if they come back to develop nuclear weapons and won’t be blocked – I – I don’t see a reason why they shouldn’t be blocked — it might gradually develop into a major threat. But it looks now nothing is an existential threat for Israel, so we should stop frightening ourselves. Even the tiny demilitarized Palestinian state surrounded all around by Israel was such a major player and allegedly even nuclear power. So what the hell the Palestinian state can do to Israel? We have much more to worry about if it is a failing state, if it becomes something like certain parts of Syria or like Iraq at some stages. You know? The (unintelligible) or Somalia, Somaliland. A Palestinian state cannot be a real threat to Israel.”
Savage: “You know, we’re speaking again about probably the most important issue in the world, which is the Middle East, which the whole world seems to revolve around and has for a couple of thousand years, with Prime Minister Ehud Barak. His great book is My Country, My Life. I recommend it to everyone. And I’d like to continue at this time with the issue of the Iran nuclear deal. I personally do agree that Trump was right and destroying the Iran nuclear deal was the right move. What do you think, Mr. Barak?”
Barak: “You know, in the years 2009 up to 2012 I was more hawkish than Netanyahu and Lieberman about the need for Israel to be ready. But they were part of it of course. (Unintelligible) to develop operation capabilities to prepare the ground for international legitimacy for Israel to strike. And when it becomes kind of a compelling imperative to strike because they are going to enter into what I call the zone of immunity where our operation cannot delay for long enough, to be ready to strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities. But once President Obama signed the deal, it became a deal. I saw it as a bad deal. You know, when I was asked about it, I answered, “I have mixed feelings about the Obama deal.” I was asked, “What do you mean by mixed feelings?” I answered, “It’s like seeing your mother-in-law driving your new BMW over the cliff.” So it’s really a bizarre feeling, but something that became a reality once the president signed it. The same applies now. I thought that there are more logical ways to deal with the violations of the Iranians. Basically they are doing very bad things, but none of them is explicitly a breaking of the deal. You know (unintelligible) is an important issue. And it has to do with the nuclear capability, it relates to is, but it’s not part of the deal whether we like it or not. Sowing insurgency or terror all over the Middle East is a bad thing, but it’s not part of the deal. So a more logical approach in my judgment was to call upon the Europeans, probably Russia, and together coordinate and appeal to the Iranians to change their behavior or else. But that is part of the deal. And you have to remember that even when America pulls out of the deal, the deal is still there. Once President Trump announced it, once again it’s part of reality. It’s good and bad news in it. The good news now is the Iranians are so afraid, so frightened now. They suspect that President Trump, now with Pompeo on one side and Bolton on the other side might enter, as they suspect, a period where America will look for the slightest violation or even fabricate a violation of the agreement in order to strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities. So the Iranians are so worried about it that they are behaving much more cautiously. We could see it even a few days ago when Israel hit very hard on the deployment in Syria and they didn’t respond practically. And they might be very cautious in the coming months as well. Probably the same happen with Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Basically he completed his acquiring of technology to produce both atom bombs and hydrogen bombs, but he felt that the new administration is totally unpredictable. And so he decided better to warm up relationship with the South and to make some announcement that appeared to be conciliatory. So he will dismantle his test site because he doesn’t need it anymore. He never said he will dismantle the nuclear arsenal. So once again, he’s more cautious now. He probably says, ‘Let’s wait until the midterm or probably until 2020 and see what happens.’That’s what his father did. That’s what his grandfather did under a similar situation, and they’re very used to it. So I think this is the bad news. There is good news, but there is bad news as well. When the summit in Singapore happens next month — probably the 12th of June if it will really happen — the North Korean negotiators will come and raise the question, does it make sense to sign an agreement with the American president if the next president can wake up a certain morning and decide to cancel it? (Unintelligible) Iranians if certain point in the future, let’s say three or four years from now, they decide to break out and resume enrichment of uranium they will argue that the first to break the agreement were the Americans themselves. So it’s complicated. But, you know, once he did it, it’s the reality, and I recommend to Netanyahu and to the people around Trump, probably Bolton, to sit down behind closed doors and make sure we will know what happens in Iran. Then to make sure that we agree on what defines break out, what defines a run towards nuclear weapons. And then at what stage and with what parameters or milestones around us we have to bring back the surgical military option, American or Israeli, to the table.”
Savage: “We are speaking with the tenth prime minister of Israel and the most highly decorated soldier in Israel’s history and a scholar, Ehud Barak, and his fabulous book, My Country, My Life. Mr. Barak, you have a chapter entitled, “Hate Versus Hope,” which I think goes to the entire core of our discussion today. How in the world are those of us who support the state of Israel to believe that those who were raised to hate the Jews from the time they are born in certain areas of the Arab world are ever going to learn to embrace their Jewish neighbors?”
Barak: “I think it will start with what we call the iron wall. Of course a pre-condition to exist in the Middle East is to be strong, stronger than anyone else around you. These ideals were shaped by Jabotinsky, who was the right wing original visionary by Ben-Gurion and his followers, including Rabin and myself. We built this iron wall. Israel is the strongest, so they can think, they can dream, they can wish, but they cannot destroy Israel. There is a certain asymmetry that was identified already by Ben-Gurion between us and our enemies. Israel has to win each and every war. Our enemies have to win only once. So this make us the party who is interested in being ready to defeat an enemy when we are attacked. But because we develop, advance, even strengthen during those long intervals between wars. We have a strong interest to delay wars, because after every war there will come the next one, so we’re not interested in many wars. So you cannot easily translate or transform the behavior or beliefs. The Middle East is a tough neighborhood. No mercy for the weak, no second opportunity for those who cannot defend themselves. The Mid East is very different from the Midwest. But no person can choose his parents. They are whoever they were. And no nation can choose its neighbors. They are whoever they are. And we have to settle. But I am an optimist. We are stronger. So now we have to master the political will to search for opportunities to relax the situation. (Unintelligible) you might hear that the Arabs are the same Arabs and no hope and nothing can happen. It’s not true. In ’67, 50 years ago, I was a young captain when we conquered all the defeated three Arab armies within six days. Our government thought that except for Jerusalem the rest of the territories that we acquired would be the posit for peace negotiations. But the Arab (unintelligible) the Arab League in late ’67 had decided on the famous three no’s — no recognition, no negotiation no peace with Israel. Whatever was taken out by force will be brought back by force. But a lot has been changed since then. For 40 years we had peace with the strongest and most important Arab country named Egypt. It stood even when Israeli tanks rode into a neighboring Arab capital in Beirut several decades ago. It stood even when Muslim Brotherhood Morsi took over Egypt. And it’s not like the peace that you have with Canada, but it’s something very stable.”
Savage: “So you also now have a great ally in Saudi Arabia, which is quite unbelievable. And this is wonderful, given that Trump has reached out to Saudi Arabia. You now have two of the strongest Arab nations on earth as your allies. Isn’t that true?”
Barak: “Yeah. You know, they are not exactly allies, but there is an opportunity here — which in a way we are missing, we are not doing it intensively enough — to establish a regional arrangement with the Gulf states, with Saudi Arabia, with Egypt, with Jordan, based on the common interests to neutralize or put at bay the Iranian hegemonic and nuclear intentions as well as struggling together against radical Muslim terror and join hands in other projects. So we have a lot of common interests, but it won’t fly if Israel is not ready to take certain steps towards the Palestinians, not because MbS or MbZ or Sisi or King Abdullah are in a love affair with the Palestinians, but their publics are. And those moderate leaders do not feel safe in their own sheikhs and engage publicly in Israel, accept Israel, normalize relation with Israel as long as the Palestinians, as they describe it, are under Israeli boot. So we have to think of it in a more wider perspective. It will take time, but I am an optimist. When you go to Northern Ireland, you see what happened in Belfast. No one believed that it could be solved.”
Barak: “It is about to be solved.”
Barak: “Go to Bosnia or Serbia, former Yugoslavia.”
Barak: “These are conflicts of hundreds of years that no one believed…”
Barak: “…could be solved, and they’re on the way to being solved.”
Barak: “Once we start it – and I told people — I wrote it in my book as well — ‘Even if it takes 5, 15, or 50 years,’ I said, “when the time will come to make the deal, you will need a magnifying glass to see the differences between what was on the table already in 2000 at Camp David and what ended up to be the real agreement. I think that…”
Savage: “Before we go, I know that your time is very, very short. We’re speaking with Prime Minister Ehud Barak with his amazing book My Country, My Life, which you really should read if you want to know anything about the Middle East. I have one last question, which is you’re very critical in your book about the right-wing government, which you say is chipping away at the core principles that founded the state of Israel. Could you elaborate on that for a moment?”
Barak: “Yeah. Look, first of all I should tell you it’s my government. It’s a legally elected government. It’s a legitimate government of Israel led by Netanyahu whom I know from the time he was 20 years old, young lieutenant under my command. And I’m the only one who defeated him in the ballot some 20 years ago, but he came again and served as the Minister of Defense. So I have no doubt that this government is patriotic. They want what’s good for Israel as well as I do. But I think that they are wrong. And the main mistake is their belief — I call it a belief with a messianic tinge — that Israel is having a sacred mission to get over the whole biblical land in one state. And the realities are painful but simple. Over this area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, a small piece of area, there live 13 million people, 6.5 million Jews and 6.5 million Arabs. So if all this block of Palestinians can vote for the Knesset, it will become in a short time a bi-national state with Muslim majority and a permanent civil war. If they cannot vote, if a block of millions of Palestinians permanently cannot vote, that’s not democracy. So the one-state idea leads inevitably into either non-Jewish or non-democratic state. Neither is the Zionist dream. And I insist that the better way for Israel, however painful it is, is to be capable of delineating this line within the Holy Land and make a place for a Palestinian entity. It serves the security of Israel rather than risk it. And it’s not cancelling the right we have from history, from Heaven, from the Bible, from the community of nations in the last hundred years. But the question, to what extent you implement your rights, has to do with common sense, with sober look into reality and capacity to come to grip with it. And it happened even in the biblical time. Even during the dynasty of David and Solomon, kings, our old kings the promise and the right and the divine promise for the control of the Holy Land was there. But the actual borders looked like accordion based on the concrete geopolitical reality.”
Savage: “I really want to thank you for being with us on The Savage Nation because I think you’ve made the case for your position much more clear to Americans who are 100% in support of Israel, meaning Israel right or wrong. And the religious community in America, the ultra-religious community, are those who not only in Israel but in America are insisting upon all or nothing, meaning 100% biblical, 100% Jewish. And you’re saying that’s an untenable situation. Isn’t that right?”
Barak: “Yeah, unfortunately it’s right. We would be happy if there was somehow an empty land for people without a state, but it’s not an empty land. There are millions of Palestinians there, whether we like it or not. And they are not going to disappear. They are human beings. My position does not stem from the need of justice for the Palestinian. It stems from my deep worry and anxiety about our own future, our own security, our own identity. It’s in order to defend ourselves. We need a border within which we will have a solid Jewish majority for generations to come. And we cannot rely just on divine intervention. I know that many believers are listening and they are confident that at the right point the divine intervention will come, but as a lesson from the two cases of destruction of our temples and our sovereign continuity in the land of Israel, the lessons are written in the Talmud. Don’t accelerate the Messiah. Don’t try here on earth to act as if He is too patient and you want to prod him into action. Secondly, don’t climb the wall, don’t challenge the biggest powers of the time as we did with the Babylons and later on with the Romans. And third, avoid at any price hatred among brothers within the people of Israel. And somehow I stick to these lessons of the Talmud, and our government seems sometimes to ignore them, or at least behave as if these principles deserve being ignored.”
Savage: “Well, again, I recommend to all of my listeners in America and around the world, you must read My Country, My Life from Ehud Barak. Because these positions, if expressed by a typical dove or a peacenik in America would be rejected by the let us say more nationalistic amongst my audience, but coming from you, it’s a different story entirely, having been a prime minister and a war hero and fought in so many wars, what you have personally lived through. I’m reading your biography. It’s astounding, which we can’t even get into, to read that your paternal grandparents, God rest their souls, Frieda and Reuven Brog, murdered in northern Lithuania, leaving your father orphaned at the age of two. I think all of these issues have shaped you into the statesman and warrior that you are. And coming from you, it has a different meaning than coming from let’s say a typical peacenik.”
Savage: “So the last question of the day, and I know that you have to do other interviews, would be what is the likelihood in your opinion, given the climate of today, given the fact that there are no term limits in Israel, which I find astounding. Great Benjamin Netanyahu’s been Prime Minister for a very long time. What is the likelihood of Israel ever moving, not ever but moving in the near future, to the vision that you have of a two-state solution?”
Barak: “It’s not clear. You know, it needs a change in power in Israel, and it’s done only through the ballots. You know, we are a democracy as you are. So one of my purposes is to try to wake up the people to make the people be aware of these developments. In fact I have a lot of empathy to Netanyahu. He’s (unintelligible) sincere person, soulful, knowledgeable, and with many achievements. But I think that he is wrong, and in recent years he is somehow led or dragged into dangerous policies by the extreme right wing in Israel, and he became too pessimistic, anxious himself, victimized. And I think that this should be corrected. Hopefully he will do it alone. He has a lot of troubles. As President Trump says (unintelligible) investigation that for him I hope it will end up with nothing, but it’s not clear how it will end. But basically without changing the direction in government in Israel, it probably will not happen. But I should tell you honestly that even on the other side, the Palestinian side, I don’t see the great readiness or ripeness for it (unintelligible) declining leader with anti-Semitic slogans feeling (unintelligible) himself. That’s not an easy situation, but I am confident that the time for turnaround will come. We have been through a lot of troubles in our long history along the millenniums and the short history along the last 70 or 120 years and we will overcome. At a certain point our great people will come to grip with reality and realize that there is a need for change of direction.”
Savage: “You know, the last line in your book My Country, My Life is a quote from Theodor Herzl that you quote, which I’d like to quote on the radio show right now, which is, ‘If you will it, it is not a dream.’ And I think that’s your motto, is it not?”
Barak: “Yeah, in a way. It’s the motto of Zionism all along the way in the last 120 years. And when he said it, he said within 50 years we can have a Jewish state. Judenstaat he called it, not a Jewish state but a state for the Jews. And he said if you would believe it, it won’t be a dream, and it happened exactly 50 years after he made this first statement in Basel in 1897.”
Savage: “Again, ladies and gentlemen, I recommend the book My Country, My Life by Ehud Barak. Mr. Barak, thank you very much for being with us on The Savage Nation. I think that your positions will set off shockwaves not only amongst my audience, and we’re going to argue over this a little later on in the program, but for weeks to come. And I appreciate you’re being with us. Are you visiting with President Trump on this trip by the way?”
Barak: “No. (Unintelligible) to meet with all American presidents since Ford, but not yet with President Trump. (Unintelligible)…”
Savage: “Why is that? Why do you think that is?”
Barak: “Oh, I think the reason is that I’m neither the Prime Minister now nor the Minister of Defense, so he’s supposed to meet with the formal elected leaders of the State.”
Savage: “I see. Okay, we’ll leave it at that, because I’m not Prime Minister nor Director of Defense and yet I visited with him. I think he should visit with you. In fact after this interview, I will tell you right now, with your permission I’m going to send him an audio copy of this interview to the White House. What do you think of that?”
Barak: “Okay. You can always do it. Yeah. Thank you very much for having me.”
Savage: “Good luck with your book. Bye now.”
More on the Interview Below:
Radio host Dr. Michael Savage recently spoke with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak on his nationally syndicated program The Savage Nation. Tensions have been rising in the volatile region in reaction to policies set forth by the Trump administration including the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and America’s departure from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Barak, the joint most highly decorated soldier in Israel’s history and the once the commander of Israel’s elite special forces, has been a steadfast supporter of peace for Israel and its neighbors. In his 2018 memoir My Country, My Life, Barak chronicles his role in the nation’s past and looks ahead to the challenges that lie before the Jewish state.
In candid conversation, Barak offered his insight with Dr. Savage and his audience.
Barak on Turkey and its relationship with Israel:
Savage: We’re speaking about the shared capital for the moment, and you know more about it than I do. What I fear is that this became a galvanizing moment for the enemies of Israel especially Turkey now which has a sizable military. Do you think that that is more posturing than it is a threat to the survival of Israel?
Barak: Look, after seventy years, seven walls, two dividers, infinite number of operations in between Israel. That one of the major achievement. We are the strongest country, thousand miles around Jerusalem from Benghazi in Libya to Tehran including those two capitals. No single enemy or combination of neighbors can create an existential threat to Israel. Of course, they can cause loss of life, they can impose a war, usually a war can be imposed by one side. Israel is strong enough. I am confident that out of this position of strength, we should master the self-confidence to be ready to defend ourselves. Turkey is not an enemy for fighting. We have a very close economic relationship, there many other interests involved. It’s the rhetoric of Erdogan is hard to be absorbed and listened to and should be responded to from time to time. But there are too many interests between us and Turkey to let it deteriorate into war.
“Don’t accelerate [the coming of the] Messiah.” – Ehud Barak
On the Iran Nuclear Deal:
Savage: I’d like to continue at this time with the issue of the Iran Nuclear Deal. I personally do agree that Trump was right and destroying the Iran Nuclear Deal was the right move. What do you think, Mr. Barack?
Barak: In the years 2009 to 2012, I was more focused than Netanyahu and Lieberman about the need for Israel to be ready, but they were a part of it. Of course, Bibi supported as well as Lieberman way to develop operation capabilities to prepare the ground for international legitimacy for Israel to strike. And when it becomes kind of a compelling imperative to strike because they are going to do enter into what I call ‘The Zone of Immunity” where our operation cannot be delayed for long enough to be ready to strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities. But once President Obama signed the deal, it became a deal. It’s a bad deal. When I was asked about it I answered, “I have mixed feelings about Obama deal.” I was asked, “What do you mean by mixed feelings?” I answered, “It’s like seeing your mother-in-law driving your new BMW over the cliff.” It really is a feeling, but something that became a reality once the President signed it.
The same applies now. I thought that there are more logical ways to deal with the violations of the Iranians. Basically, they are doing very bad things, but none of them is explicitly a breaking of the deal. Besides it’s an important issue and it has to do with the nuclear capability. It relates to it, but it’s not part of their deal whether we like it or not. Sowing insurgency or terror all over the Middle East is a bad thing but it is not a part of the deal.
So the more logical approach, in my judgment, was to call upon the Europeans, the Russians and together coordinate an appeal to the Iranians to change their behavior or else. But that is part of the deal and you have to remember this: Even when America pulled out of the deal, the deal is still there. Once President Trump announced it, once again it’s part of reality. It’s a good and bad news. The good news is that the Iranians are so frightened now that they suspect that President Trump now with Pompeo on one side and Bolton of the other side, they suspect a period where America will look for the slightest violation or even fabricated violation of the agreement in order to strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities. The Iranians are so worried about it that they are behaving much more cautiously. We could see this even a few days ago when Israel hit very hard their deployment in Syria. They didn’t respond practically and they might be very cautious in the coming months as well.
“If you will it, it is not a dream.” – Ehud Barak, My Country, My Life
On why a two state solution is the only solution offering Israel long term survival:
Savage: If this were coming from a standard politician who had no military history, people would shrug it off, but it’s coming from a war hero and that is what’s most intriguing to me. Many people do not understand that you have been there and done that a thousand times over. One of your main points in this book that I found most intriguing, Mr. Barack, is that you say the democratic principles and the core values of Zionism are what you’re standing for but you also say that Israel’s own security and national interest would dictate that however long it might take a two-state solution is the only conceivable destination. Now, many people would argue and that would be mainly Americans I would assume except perhaps the ultra-orthodox in Israel as well that not one hectare of Jewish land should be given to the Palestinians which I find untenable because there are four million people who don’t agree with that position and they’re not going anywhere. But aside from that how would you prevent a Palestinian nation in the future from wanting what Israel has which would be an air force and an army and once that air force and army would be developed would they not then continue on the footing that they’re on now which is to annihilate the Jewish presence?
Barak: Oh, it’s a complicated question. It might take an hour to fully answer, but let me put the following statement. First of all in Israel, most people with my background, most people who spent decades fighting for Israel’s security being in the IDF or in the Armed Forces or in the Secret Service in Shabak or in the Mossad or in the police, 90% of them believe like me and I like our government that the objective and the only sustainable arrangement is a two-state solution.
“They say in the Middle East a pessimist is simply an optimist with experience.” – Ehud Barak
Listeners to the Savage Nation weighed in on Twitter with response to the interview saying:
Michael, it was very informative to hear Barack’s solution to a very complex issue. However, the Palestinians have been offered several opportunities to resolve this situation but have rejected them all and have never negotiated in good faith. A two state solution was offered.
As a Lebanese druze American ( who voted for trump )I was honestly intrigued by your conversation with barak. Valuable in a time where fire spreads widely. Keep going Dr.Savage your one of a kind !
Compared to coverage of the Royal Wedding, the whole interview was newsworthy. I particularly liked when he said: “Don’t accelerate [the coming of the] Messiah.” A great quote right there.