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Ehud Barak predicts bloodshed during anti-reform protests

"Some people might lose their lives along the way," the former premier said.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at a protest in Tel Aviv against the government's planned judicial reforms, Feb. 25, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at a protest in Tel Aviv against the government's planned judicial reforms, Feb. 25, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak predicts a descent into bloodshed amid ongoing protests against the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform initiative.

“[The opponents of reform] will not stop. We will block this attempt on the life of Israel as a democracy and we will win this battle,” Barak told CBS in an interview.

“There will be ups and downs, it might take time. Some people might lose their lives along the way. I told the people we will have to face toil and sweat and tears; hopefully no blood, but there might be some violence. … We will put an end to it whatever the price will be,” he added.

In July, Israeli Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel-Atbaryan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, exposed what she claimed was Barak’s longstanding plan to bring down the government.

In the Twitter post, Distel-Atbaryan described an interview with Barak from July 2020 on Forum 555, a group of retired pilots and navigators. The plan, she noted, included deliberately inflaming the civilian population, creating a false representation of a danger to democracy, and bankrolling protests, including purchasing flags.

Asked during the interview about a possible reprise of the “success of 1999,” when he was elected prime minister, Barak said, “A friend of mine, a historian, once told me, ‘Ehud, they will call you when bodies are floating in the Yarkon River [in north Tel Aviv].’ I wish to stress: not the bodies of illegally residing Palestinians from the territories will be floating, and not Israeli Arabs. The floating bodies will be of Jews that were killed by Jews.”

In an address to London-based think tank Chatham House in March, Barak went into greater detail regarding how protests could bring down a government.

He referred to the research of Professor Erica Chenoweth and political scientist Maria J. Stephan, who co-authored the 2012 book “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict.”

Barak said the two researchers looked at hundreds of civil protests from 1900 to 2006, and “they found a common denominator”—protests that succeeded included 3.5% of the population, or roughly 8% of the adult population, and “tenaciously and persistently” kept up the protests, boycotts and civil disobedience.

“At the end the government either falls or capitulates,” said Barak. “We already crossed this number in less than three months so we are heading in the right direction.”

Last month, the Likud Party denounced Barak for posting to social media a video that compares Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.

“Ehud ‘Hot Neck’ Barak, partner of the pedophile Epstein, has finally gone off the rails,” Likud said in response, in reference to a 2016 photo of Barak entering the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s New York residence wearing a neck warner.

“After saying that he will lead anti-government protests until there are ‘bodies floating in the Yarkon’ and he’s called back to take the reins of power, Barak continues to incite the assassination of a sitting Israeli prime minister and compares him to Hitler,” added the party.

Israeli Transportation Minister Miri Regev recently sent a letter to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara calling for a probe to be opened against Barak for allegedly inciting a coup d’état.

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