Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL


By: Gad Nahshon

"The Arabs always will dream to destroy us. I do not believe that they will recognize us as part of this region. In their hate for the Jews they form one united camp. They will forever express their objection to our Jewish sovereignty in Israel. They are waiting for the right opportunity to destroy Israel. We have to understand that our existence has nothing to do with them. We have to build our eternal wall of Iron and preserve our military superiority," Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's ex-Prime Minister and one of Israel's famous "Founding Fathers" told me during a visit to his Tel Aviv office.

Shamir, 82, is still a powerful leader. He has a unique integrity. He loves to talk about his past in the Lechi (Israel Freedom Fighters) when he fought against the British imperialism, about Israel's current politics and lack of ideological commitment and he loves to talk about his love for the Yiddish theatre, as well. Shamir always demonstrated a sense of devotion to values and to the legacy of Zeev Jabotinsky. He also is known as a courageous politician.

"The Oslo agreements were a terrible mistake and simply a disaster to Israel's interests. I would like to note that Oslo is not a follow-up of my Madrid talks of 1989. There is even a contradiction between the two conferences. Bibi, who was elected on May 29th, should have gone back to my peace initiative which I followed until 1992. But Bibi declared his wish to follow up the Oslo agreements. Now he is in trouble. He encounters problems with them and being attacked from his Right camp. Now he is hovering between the two worlds because his policy contradicts his own ideology," remarked Shamir, who is looking for a strong Likud, a National camp, to lead the country in the 21st century.

Shamir is not afraid of the coming of potential U.S.A. pressures. "I think that the Americans will appreciate our stability. We only must demonstrate toughness. We are viewed as their partners. We have to be serious. They do not like people who cheat on them." What do you think about our peace with Egypt?

"The peace did not de facto change anything."

What do you think about the prospect of a Palestinian State?

"Henry Kissinger objected to this idea. There is no place for an independent Palestinian State. In Camp David, Begin agreed to give them autonomy, but never a state. We need also to negotiate our borders. I hope that they will not manage to force us to establish a Palestinian State. It will never come true."

Recently one can record a new process of erosion in the Israeli resistance to the establishment of a Palestinian State. But Shamir will never change his mind, believing that this state means a serious blow to Israel's survival as a Jewish State.

What is your assessment of the identity of Israel's Arab citizens?

"I think that a process of "Palestinization" is taking place inside the Israeli-Arab community. Many believe that in the future a new Palestinian State would rise in Eretz-Israel."

What do you think about the new executive branch basic law?

"I objected to the idea of direct election of our Prime Minister. This system is strange to our mentality and political culture. I do not believe in the cult of personality. We talk about Israel's political life not of Americas. We are looking for a serious political platform and not form the personality."

Do you like the election system in Israel:

"No. The new law reinforced the weakness of our election system. The two major parties lost power. We have over- pluralism and too many factions in the Knesset. I will support a revision of our election system based on mixing proportional and regional aspects."

What do you think about the Diaspora Jews?

"We need Israel in order to absorb all the Jews in the Diaspora. There is no alternative to Israel. I am optimistic. They used to say that the Russian Jews are a lost case. They made a mistake as almost a million Jews made Aliyah. We need 4.5 million Jews from America. There is a potential of Aliyah because many Jews in America are afraid that their children would assimilate. I think that we need in the Jewish Agency a new wave of activity. I hope to see the majority of my people living in Israel," Shamir told me at the end of our enriching interview.

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