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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

Ehud Barak can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

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

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Ehud Barak
 
Ehud Barak
Profile of Ehud Barak Biography of Ehud Barak Interview with Ehud Barak Ehud Barak Photo Gallery

Ehud Barak Interview (page: 6 / 8)

Former Prime Minister of Israel

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  Ehud Barak

Were you ever afraid during any of these operations?

Ehud Barak Interview Photo
Ehud Barak: Fear is very normal. You have to overcome it. I remember it more as an experience of pre-battle, before the operation, than something that really strikes you during it. It comes to your awareness only when you sit idle, where some circumstances impose a lack of action upon you and you can't do anything. Then it works on you. It works on every human being, including experienced commanders. But when you see the people around you, you think there's a kind of luck that joins us, not just that led me into this unit or someone else to another place, but also during battle.

I've seen some of my best friends, who could have become prime ministers or professors and leaders of Israeli society in every field of life -- just out of something that no one could control -- they got series of bullets in the chest or head or neck. I still remember a lieutenant colonel, at the height of the Yom Kippur war -- a brilliant officer and brilliant scientist. In fact, in his youth he was a commander in the parachutists, and then a commander in the leading high tech confidential unit of that time. When he heard there was a battle, he came like a horse that smells it, and he joined us as a fifth member of the group.


We were at the height of the battle shooting at the Egyptian tanks from some thousand meters, and Egyptian soldiers just under our feet, and the Egyptian missiles from the flank, from some two-and-a-half kilometers. And he was shot at from maybe ten yards from someone that we have seen before. We have tried to crush him with the -- how you call it -- the chains of the tank. But when we rolled back to crush someone else, it came out that he comes out of his fox hole and raised his Kalashnikov once again and shot my friend here. And I still remember, you know, how he kind of-- he just turned to me and said something that is kind of -- maybe a foot and a half kind of stream of blood from his neck. And I tried to stop it, and he was heavy enough to slip into the turret, and he lost his life a few minutes later. I lost my best friends in the battlefield, especially in the Yom Kippur War.



The war caught me at Stanford University. I was a graduate student maybe some six weeks. You know, I came to this --'73 year and just began, you know. And I was called from Yom Kippur in California, Yom Kippur was already -- you know, coming ten hours later than in Israel so we were just after the Yom Kippur ceremony in the kind of Hillel auditorium of Stanford University, when... I woke up in the morning and was told that there is a war in Israel. I called the attaché in the embassy and said, "I'm a lieutenant colonel. I'm moving immediately." So the general told me, "Oh, I don't think we are missing a major war." I told him "What is--" I asked him, "What is we? You are here on official loan. I'm still a commander. I cannot afford being out of the country even if in a not very serious kind of war. I'm going there. I will call you from New York." And I went immediately to the airport, San Francisco airport. I kissed my wife. My eldest daughter was maybe two years old.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity


Ehud Barak Interview Photo

She is a corporate lawyer in Manhattan now, but she was only two years old then. I went back, and I couldn't call my wife for three weeks. She was left in the hands of the Palo Alto Jewish community and some students that stayed there.






I commanded a tank battalion in some of the most bitter battles I ever participated in. And I still remember when I called from her from Suez after we kind of encircled the Third Army at the end of the war, and I began to read to her the names of our friends that were lost, most of them company commanders and battalion commanders that lost their lives since they were the first to climb to a fire position. And I remember her crying in the telephone. She was watching the CBS, something that was inconceivable for us, Egyptian infantry crossing the Canal. Israeli soldiers and officers prisoners at the hands of Egyptians, and she couldn't hear from me.


It took me four or five months to come back to Stanford to get her. I could not continue my studies. But the memory was there, how good it was, and I came there five years later to complete my graduate studies as a colonel.

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This page last revised on Sep 22, 2010 14:42 EDT