What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace

Ehud Barak in What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace. Courtesy of Film Movement.

What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace is one of two Film Movement documentaries about former Israeli prime ministers in April.

Having watched Never Stop Dreaming on Tuesday night, I decided to watch What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace on Wednesday afternoon. After all, it was Israeli Independence Day so it felt thematically appropriate for the day. Because of Passover, I did not get a chance to watch in time for its VOD release earlier this month. For a film that premiered in late 2020, I’m surprised that it’s taken so long to get a North American release on VOD. Similarly, the AIPAC-focused Kings of Capitol Hill premiered that fall and is still seeking US distribution. Anyway, Ehud Barak was the 10th Prime Minister of Israel, having served 1999-2001. His term ended with a resignation and subsequent defeat to Ariel Sharon.

When one thinks about the former prime minister, controversy is a term that comes to mind. People either like him or they do not. He wasn’t without taking risks during his career. Some of them were not good risks, such as the assassination attempt Saddam Hussein. I’ll get into it in a moment but there’s also the efforts to end the conflict with the Palestinians.

Like Rabin before him, he was hopeful to see some sort of peace effort with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. The 2000 Camp David Summit offered one of the best chances at a peace agreement. He probably offered way too much but the Palestinians still rejected it. Will there ever be peace between the two countries? I don’t know. However, he did fulfill one campaign promise by pulling IDF forces out of Southern Lebanon. Interestingly enough, he once proposed a plan to eliminate Yasser Arafat during the 1970s. It’s interesting to think about the what if scenario. What would things be like right now without Arafat in a leadership position for decades? Who would have risen up to fill the vacuum in Palestinian leadership? Would the Oslo Peace Accords have ever been signed? The questions offer lots of food for thought.

Time can be a benefit. It’s been over two decades since Camp David Summit failure. This allows the former prime minister to look back on this time with more clarity. Sure, there will always be criticism but even former President Bill Clinton wrote in his memoir by saying the summit’s failure made him feel like he failed. In any event, Barak is able to ask himself the hard questions of if he’d do things differently. Even if he did, would the results have been the same or not? Had things worked out differently at Camp David, would the Second Intifada have happened? Would there be lasting peace or would it have failed at some point. Unfortunately, asking these questions only lead to even more questions.

Ran Tal’s documentary, What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace, helps put Barak in a new light as he looks back at both his life and Israel’s history.


Film Movement released What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace on Digital/VOD on April 7, 2023. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.