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If you like Ehud Barak's story, you might also like:
George Mitchell,
Shimon Peres,
Colin Powell,
Norman Schwarzkopf
and Elie Wiesel

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Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Ehud Barak in the Achievement Curriculum section:
Global Conflicts

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Ehud Barak
 
Ehud Barak
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Ehud Barak Biography

Former Prime Minister of Israel

Ehud Barak Date of birth: February 12, 1942

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  Ehud Barak

Born at Kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon, Ehud Barak enlisted in the Israeli Army at age 17, and saw significant action leading a commando unit in the 1967 Six-Day War. His superiors noted his exceptional bravery and coolness under fire. When hostilities erupted again in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Barak commanded a tank battalion on the Sinai front.

Ehud Barak Biography Photo
Although his academic education was repeatedly interrupted by calls to active duty, Barak found time to earn an undergraduate degree in Physics and Mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a Masters in Economic Engineering Systems from Stanford University. In addition to his scientific and military interests, he is a talented pianist and linguist.

For many years, he led Israel's elite anti-terrorist unit, on one occasion successfully storming a hijacked airliner in Tel Aviv, and on another -- disguised as a woman -- leading a raid against the organization that murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He also played a pivotal role in planning what has been described as the most audacious and perfectly executed special forces operation in history, the Entebbe raid and hostage rescue mission. After serving as head of Israeli Intelligence and Central Command during the 1980s, Barak was appointed army Chief of Staff, his country's top military leader, in 1991.

Ehud Barak Biography Photo
After five distinguished years as Chief of Staff, Barak stepped down to become Interior Minister in the government headed by his mentor, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The former warrior who fearlessly faced death on the battlefield brought a different kind of courage to his new job, striving to engage the Palestinian leadership in a productive dialogue. In 1995, when Rabin was assassinated by a domestic extremist, Shimon Peres became Prime Minister, and Barak replaced Peres as Foreign Minister. Barak was propelled to leadership of the Labor Party following Peres's narrow electoral loss to Benjamin Netanyahu.

Barak became Prime Minister in his own right when he led the Labor Party to a landslide victory in 1999. As Prime Minister he ended Israel's 17-year occupation of southern Lebanon and offered unprecedented concessions to the Palestinians. Barak's peace offer was rejected, the Palestinians broke off negotiations, and the subsequent outbreak of violence led to Barak's defeat in the next election.

Barak declined an offer to serve as Minister of Defense in the subsequent government headed by Likud leader Ariel Sharon. For the next few years Barak pursued a business career in Israel and the United States, joining private equity firms with interests in security-related industries. In June 2007, Barak was once again elected to lead the Labor Party and was immediately appointed to serve as Minister of Defense in the reorganized coalition government. Although Barak's Labor Party placed fourth in the parliamentary election of February 2009, he was reappointed as Minister of Defense in a new coalition government led by the Likud Party.

As Defense Minister, Barak continued to advocate a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, while supporting the government's hard line on security issues. Many of his allies in the Labor Party, frustrated with the breakdown of peace talks, pressured Barak to leave the coalition, forcing him to choose between his party and the government. In January 2011, he shocked the political world by leaving the party he had led for many years. The other Labor members in the cabinet divided over Barak's decision. Some remained in the coalition alongside him, while others resigned their posts. Ehud Barak continued to serve as Minister of Defense while leading a centrist faction called Independence. At the end of 2012 he announced his decision to retire from electoral politics.




This page last revised on Nov 28, 2012 21:42 EST
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