Epstein was 'a terrible version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'

Ehud Barak met with Jeffrey Epstein dozens of times, flew on private plane — report

Former prime minister visited disgraced financier and child abuser about 30 times in 2013-2017, including 2014 private flight in Florida

Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a protest in Tel Aviv against the government's planned judicial overhaul, February 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a protest in Tel Aviv against the government's planned judicial overhaul, February 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

Former prime minister Ehud Barak met with the late disgraced financier and child sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein dozens of times beginning in 2013, according to a new report on Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal.

Barak was among the list of Jewish names — including pioneering linguist and left-wing activist Noam Chomsky, longtime Bard College president Leon Botstein, and filmmaker Woody Allen — listed in a newly uncovered private calendar for Epstein, the WSJ reported in the first part of its investigative series on the hugely influential Jewish donor who used his largesse to obscure what investigators uncovered years ago as an elaborate underage sex trafficking ring.

Epstein met with thousands of people over his career and the presence of their names does not itself indicate any evidence of misdeeds.

According to the WSJ’s Wednesday report on the calendar’s contents, Barak visited Epstein about 30 times between 2013 and 2017 at his estates in Florida and New York, including a time in 2014 when the former Israeli premier flew with Epstein on his private aircraft from Palm Beach to Tampa, after which Epstein went on to New York. Barak said his wife and an Israeli security guard were also on that flight. He said he flew with Epstein on his private plans on one other occasion, also with his wife and guards.

According to the report, Barak also met with Epstein monthly for nearly a year, beginning in December 2015.

The meetings came well after Epstein’s 2008-2009 conviction and sentencing for procuring a child for prostitution, but Barak has maintained that he had no knowledge of Epstein’s activities.

Their previously reported ties became an unexpected hot-button issue in the 2019 election campaign in Israel, after Epstein was arrested and later died in prison of an apparent suicide but under mysterious circumstances that have led some to question the suicide determination. At the time, the 66-year-old Epstein was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges following a Miami Herald investigation that uncovered his network of sexual abuse and high-profile connections.

Jeffrey Epstein, on March 28, 2017. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

Barak, who entered a business deal with Epstein in 2015 to fund an Israeli startup, years after the American financier served 18 months for solicitation, has called long-rumored allegations of sex trafficking by Epstein “abhorrent” and said he had officially cut off all business ties with him.

For Wednesday’s WSJ report, Barak said Epstein appears to have been “a terrible version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” describing a person who “seemed an intelligent, well-connected man with many interests, from science to geopolitics.”

Barak said that over the years of meeting with Epstein at his various mansions, he “never participated in any party or any other ‘inappropriate’ event with him” and had “never met him with girls or minors, not even with adult women in the context of any inappropriate behavior.”

The former premier said he first met Epstein in 2003 at an event attended by “American dignitaries” through the late Israeli president and statesman Shimon Peres. The two arranged to meet at a later time in New York. “I came to his house quite a few times with my wife,” Barak claimed, adding that he had met many “interesting people” at Epstein’s homes.

One of those meetings between Epstein and Barak included Chomsky, to discuss “Israel’s policies with regard to Palestinian issues and the international arena,” Chomsky told the WSJ on Tuesday.

Epstein’s calendar also featured other meetings with Barak, such as one that also included an executive at the consulting firm of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Both Chomsky and Botstein also defended their decision to continue meeting with Epstein after his first sex trafficking convictions, with Chomsky saying that Epstein’s prison time indicated a “clean slate” and Botstein invoking Bard’s history of supporting prison rehabilitation programs.

While Epstein did donate to Bard on occasion, Botstein described their relationship to the Wall Street Journal as “sadism on his part” because Epstein was frequently “dangling philanthropic support” he would not commit to.

According to the reports, Epstein also had more than a dozen meetings with Ariane de Rothschild, the chief executive of the Rothschild Group of Swiss Jewish bankers, who had married into the family and was the firm’s chair at the time. De Rothschild herself is not Jewish, but the family has been a prime target of antisemitic conspiracy theories for decades.

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