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Barak Sees Defeat for Terrorism

Mideast: At Newport synagogue, Ex-Israeli leader says victory requires 'unflinching political will.'


Surrounded by tight security, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak visited a Newport Beach synagogue Tuesday evening and told a large crowd of local supporters that America and its allies "have to win the first world war of the 21st century and we will." But he cautioned that it would require "an unflinching political will" and could take "half a generation" before victory could be declared.

Barak's speech was interrupted many times by applause, and he was given a standing ovation by the well-heeled crowd when he concluded his remarks.

"These are [terrorists] who don't hesitate to kill 3,000 innocent people and won't hesitate to kill 30,000 or 130,000," he said. This leaves the U.S. and its allies two choices: "to destroy world terrorism or be destroyed."

"American leadership at this time is doing an impressive job," he said, expressing optimism that the anti-terrorist coalition assembled by President Bush would prevail.

As for Israel, Barak said he remains optimistic that the country will eventually find peace, but it may have to surrender some territory to achieve it. He also said he thinks peace will not come to the Middle East until another Palestinian leader, who is trusted by his own people and Israelis alike, assumes the position held by Yasser Arafat.

He said Arafat has chosen to align himself with the terrorists and can no longer be trusted.

The event at Temple Bat Yahm had a post-Sept. 11 tenseness to it, with security--including Barak's bodyguards, State Department personnel and Newport Beach police officers--highly visible all over the synagogue's grounds. Each guest was searched with a metal detector before entering the temple's sanctuary.

Barak served as Israel's top elected official from May 1999 to February 2000. He led ambitious efforts to negotiate peace agreements, first with Syria and later with the Palestinian Authority, helped by President Clinton and his administration.

Before entering politics, Barak served 36 years in the Israeli military and was the most decorated soldier in the nation's history. He also served as Israel's minister of the interior, minister of foreign affairs and defense minister.

Barak's appearance extended Rabbi Mark Miller's tradition of attracting top Israeli politicians to the Newport Beach temple. Yitzchak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu have traveled to the synagogue, along with Henry Kissinger, who spoke on Middle East affairs.

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