Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s responses to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s remarks reflect anxiety that if a police investigation does not find him guilty of bribery, it is liable to discover other things. This anxiety is logical for a person who made so much money so quickly.
What did Olmert seek to achieve by telling Shula Zaken his stories of bribery allegedly received by Barak? Probably nothing concrete. Perhaps it gave him a good feeling that he was not the only one; there is someone else who might be worse than he, or maybe it was just useless gossip with no particular purpose. On the other hand, maybe he really knows something. After all, Olmert is not just an ordinary criminal; he is also a lawyer, and it can be assumed that he gained a great deal of expertise in such affairs in the course of his complicated legal affairs. Would Olmert the lawyer have uttered such grave accusations against such a prominent figure if there were no grounds for them, as Barak claimed? It is of course possible, but it is not so logical.
Analytical and conniving
It is clear that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had to order an examination/investigation. The question now is whether the examination will be wholehearted or merely formal. Barak is well connected in both the press and politics and, it can be assumed, in the police. He is also a specialist in escaping embarrassing situations, with the most prominent example being the Tse’elim military accident, in which five soldiers in an elite unit were killed during an exercise whose existence and direction IDF Chief of Staff Barak was responsible for. The only ones put on trial then were the junior officers who commanded the exercise in the field. Barak escaped unscathed, even though he was deeply and continuously involved. It is said of Barak that he has an “analytical” mind; conniving would be more accurate.
Why was the public not bowled over by Olmert’s accusations? Because Barak has done everything possible to attract such suspicions. The former prime minister and kibbutz member has been living in ostentatious wealth in recent years. First one very spacious apartment in the most fashionable high rise in Tel Aviv, then another apartment in another high-rise, and a luxury car. He felt a need to show everyone how successful he was; he enjoyed making people’s eyes pop out. He got money out of rich people who wanted themselves and their friends to be associated with the name of a former IDF chief of staff and prime minister. He was able to turn this urge into piles of money by using the nonbinding title of “consultant.”
Barak’s responses to Olmert’s remarks sound a little hysterical. They radiate fear. Fear of what? Not necessarily because he really took bribes, but because a serious police investigation is liable to discover other cases of unjust enrichment. This is not unimaginable for a person who made so much money in such a short time. That is what Barak is afraid of: that if they do not find bribery, they will find something else.