WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ehud Barak predicted to a group of schoolchildren that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad would be removed from power by Passover.
“Before Pesach, I believe, he won’t be in power any more,” the Israeli defense minister, who is in Washington to address the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, said Thursday when meeting with students at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital.
“He orders his security to shoot his own cities,” Barak said of Assad. “His people don’t want him any more. In days of cell phone cameras, emails and YouTube, no dictator can escape the feelings of his people.”
Until unrest erupted earlier this year in Syria, Israel’s posture was that the Assad regime was the least worst of the alternatives; now Israeli leaders see the Syrian regime’s likely demise as a harbinger of reduced Iranian influence in the region, which Israel would welcome.
Barak toured JPDS on a day that it was commemorating Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister assassinated by a Jewish extremist. Rabin was Barak’s mentor.
Barak, who was prime minister from 1999 to 2001, suggested he did not seek the post but happened into it because of the leadership vacuum left by Rabin, who was killed in 1995.
“I didn’t want it,” he told a pupil who asked why he sought it. “I came into through happenstance. I wanted to make Israel a better place.”