Israel's Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, who previously served as Israel's Prime Minister (1999-2001) and IDF Chief of Staff (1991-1995), made a surprise announcement in a press conference today, saying he will be retiring from politics to spend more time with his family. Barak will continue to serve as Israel's Minister of Defense until the next government is formed following the January 2013 elections. This is Barak's second announcement of retirement from politics, the first one coming in 2001 after his defeat in the 2001 general elections.
Barak's popularity has significantly diminished in recent years, after he split from the Labor Party, which he headed, to form a new party, HaAtzmaut. The split insured that Barak could stay in Netanyahu's government after most of the Labor's Member of Knesset (the legislature of Israel) wanted to quit the government. Prior to Barak's announcement, his party, which has five MKs who all split from the Labor Party, was hovering around the 2 per cent election threshold.
Dudi Rosenthal joked on Twitter about Barak's dwindling popularity and options:
המוזיקה נפסקה, כולם מיהרו לתפוס כיסאות ורק אהוד ברק ממשיך לרוץ מסביב כמו מפגר
@DudiRosenthal: The music stopped and everyone rushed to grab a seat, and only Ehud Barak is still running around like an idiot.
Israeli law dictates that at least a third of a party's MKs need to split from their party to be able to form a new party. Barak managed to convince four Labor MKs to split with him (the Labor had 13 seats), but today's announcement ensures that his new HaAtzmaut party now has little to no chance of getting elected.
Israeli journalist Dimi Reider commented:
@dimireider: What a wonderful “F**k You, you're on your own” to the invertebrates who joined him in the Atzmaut farce
Since Barak split the Labor party, which currently has only eight MKs left, the party has been gaining popularity in the polls. Gil Gangnam Klein quipped:
באתי, הרסתי כל מפלגה שיכלתי, פרשתי. #אהוד.ברק.אוטוביוגרפיה
@Garkler: I came, I destroyed every party I could, I retired. #EhudBarakAutobiography
Leftist meme-creator, John Brown, doctored the image of US President Nixon after he resigned in disgrace:
During the Press conference, Barak cited the lack of passion for politics as one reason he's retiring. Noa Mashiah tweeted about this:
כשברק אומר שהפוליטיקה לא היתה אצלו מושא תשוקה, זיינת אותנו בלי חשק?
@mashiahno: When Barak says that politics has never been his desire, [does that mean] you f**ked us without passion?
Jonathan joked on Twitter:
אתם סתם קטנוניים ומתעלמים מכל הדברים הטובים שברק עשה. הייתי מפרט, אבל כבר כתבתי את זה בשירות המיקרו-בלוגינג המתחרה שמגביל סטטוסים לאפס תווים
@CatRobotIL: You're just being petty and ignore all the good things Barak has done. I would elaborate, but I already wrote about it in a competing micro-blogging service that limits updates to zero characters.
Some netizens wrote about Barak's role in commanding over the recent Pillar of Defense Operation in Gaza.
Blogger Ido Kenan wrote:
אז עמוד ענן היה מתנת פרידה? איזה חמודוש, לא היית צריך!
So Pillar of Defense was a going away present? What a cutie, you really shouldn't have
Leftist activist Shachat B. Cotani wrote:
להתראות ותודה על המתים
So long and thanks for the dead
Leading migrant rights lawyer, Yadin Elam, posted Barak's recent campaign poster, which states that “we need a responsible adult here”, and ridiculed it by quoting the lyrics of a famous Zohar Argov song:
אז כבר לא צריך כאן מבוגר אחראי? נישאר יתומים?
בדד? בלי עתיד, בלי תקווה, בלי חלום?
So we no longer need a responsible adult here? We will be orphaned? Alone? Without a future, without hope, without a dream?
Assaf Appelboim tweeted:
מכירים את זה שאחרי הרבה זמן פורשים בשיא? אז ברק, רק ההיפך.
@Appelboy7: You know when after a long time people quit while they're ahead? Well Barak [did] just the opposite.
Dkapuchino mocked Barak's lavish lifestyle in tweeting:
זה השלב שהוא פורש לנהל חיים צנועים בבקתה הצנועה שלו במגדל גינדי?
@dkapuchino: Is this the part when he retires to lead a modest life in his modest hut in the Gindi Towers? [Barak's pricey place of residence]