Gruff And Very Tough

Israel bets that an enigmatic ex-commando can make peace and heal the nation's religious divisions

James Carville couldn't take his eyes off his client's small, pudgy hands. A killer's hands. "I couldn't, like, concentrate," the American political consultant recalls of his initial encounter with Ehud Barak, Israel's most decorated soldier and its new Prime Minister-elect. "I just kept wondering how many people he'd killed." By the time they met again to launch his campaign, Carville had a different question in mind: How would they make candidate Barak, legendary commando and former army chief, equally lethal in politics?

Last week's stunning election results prove they figured it out. Once an ill-adapted politician disparaged in his own Labor...

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