The Cryout of Yitzhak Shamir: "Do Not Push Yourself Into the Abyss of History!"
by Gad Nahshon
Every American Jewish or gentile who cares about the future of Israel in our new century should read a new book called Conversations with Yitzhak Shamir which was translated from the Hebrew original into English by David Aisner. The readers should be thankful to the initiative of Talpiot Press (New York, Jerusalem, 2000) for providing us with the opportunity to learn the political world of one of Israel's most distinguished founding fathers. It is not the first book which teaches us about the greatness of Yitzhak Shamir, but it is his most important recent cryout of a leader, 85 years old, who feels that the state of Israel 52 years old, stands today on the brink of an abyss. Shamir is worried that because of many mistakes which have been committed by the myopic political establishment, Israel might endanger its existence as a free state in the Middle-East.
This book was born in response to the Oslo Accords. A friend of Shamir, a lawyer who was shocked by these Accords, Dr. Haim Misgav, approached Shamir in Tel Aviv and suggested he have a set of questions and answers. In 1997, the Israeli Publishing House, Sifriat Hapoalim, published the Hebrew book.
In the preface, Natan Shaham, the editor, concludes that Shamir believes first of all in the supremacy of the ideology. He has a set of values. He is devoted to these values. He believes in values and ideas rather than in personalities. He has been a zealous fighter against the Israeli practice of the direct election of the Prime Minister. Shamir has been a disciple of the legacy and heritage of Zeev Jabotinsky. He joined the 'Irgun' but left it together with Abraham Stern (Yair) to establish a new secret underground anti-British organization, Lehi (The Freedom Fighters of Israel). Later he became the commander of this organization which the British called "The Stern Gang." In the preface, Shaham pointed out "These pages express revisionist ideology, its spirituality, its philosophy, its flair for democracy and value system..." One does not have to always agree with Shamir's concepts of history, Israel's future and the Israeli-Arab conflict but Shamir radiates political honesty and devotion to principles and belief.
A few years ago in one of our interviews, I saw that Shamir could not sleep. He explained to me: "I cannot figure out how come a great military and security leader such as Yitzhak Rabin could sign and support the terrible idiotic Oslo Accords. I felt that Shamir indeed was shocked by the Oslo Accords and its ramifications.
Conversation with Yitzhak Shamir explains the reasons of the shock and frustration of an Israeli Founding Father who was a leader of Herut with its great leader Menachem Begin and later became his political heir serving Israel as a Prime Minister (1986-1992) and also as its Foreign Minister. Shamir was known as a fighter for the liberation of Jews in distress. The Soviet Jewry and later in 1984-1985 miraculous rescue of the Ethiopian Jews. But today he is calling the Jews in the west to make aliyah. And aliyah from this country is the first priority of his agenda: "We do not have other alternative human resources. We need at least a million Olim. Indeed my focus is on the American Jewry," said Shamir who plans a new campaign for aliyah from the North American continent.
Shamir is a believer. He is also an optimist who believes in the slogan: "The eternity of Israel shall never be forsaken." It is not easy to confront the political truth: the 'peace process' according to Shamir "is only a terrible illusion. These Accords are a form of national suicide," said Shamir. "How did Oslo benefit us? The Arabs gained from our withdrawals. Arafat received a "state" on a silver platter and in exchange we received bundles of troubles." As to the issue of the 'Final Status', Shamir remarked: "...the final status needs to ensure Jewish sovereignty over the entirety of Western Eretz-Yisrael. Nothing less than that." Shamir explained in Conversation that his sticker says only the following slogan: "Peace in exchange for peace."
Shamir illuminated the issue of 'peace.' Since everybody loves to present himself and its noble as a 'peace loving person.' Of course Arafat or Assad speak about their peace. In Israel, the members of 'peace now' speak about 'peace.' One can even say that there is in the Theater of the Absurd even 'peace mongers.' But Shamir explained that 'peace' is an empty slogan if you do not put a real substance into it. Shamir said: "The Israeli left has overblown the term 'peace' for its own political needs while portraying the 'right' as the antagonist to peace. It reminds me of the Soviet Union's methods of operation - Lenin coined the slogan that captured the hearts of the Russian people: "Peace and Land." Since then peace has become the central slogan of political movements, generally used in a manipulative manner for various objectives. Indeed we know that Stalin used the peace to advance U.S.S.R.'s Cold War needs.
Why does Shamir reject the notion of peace in the Middle East in our time? Shamir honestly believes that the Arab-Muslin world still believes in its goal: the dismantling of the State of Israel! They used a variety of tactics and strategies in order to reach this goal. Often they used wars, often they used terror, often they are managing a long attrition war. They try to isolate Israel in the international community. They used psychological war or economic war against Israel. Even in the U.N. the P.L.O. never changed its propaganda campaign against Israel as if the peace process was never signed!
Furthermore, Arab countries tend to coordinate their policies against Israel. They also rush to save the terrorist organizations which are fighting to destroy Israel while other Arab leaders give speeches about peace in the Middle-East. Shamir is like millions of Israelis who see that Arabs and Muslims do not condemn the actions of the Hizbullah while they preach peace to the Israelis. Shamir understands that they are not really willing to let Israel live at all in "their" region. At the same time, they press Israel to 'swallow' one more peace loving entity, a new P.L.O. state in the West Bank and Gaza. Can we trust the P.L.O.? Shamir remarks: "There is absolutely no doubt that they do not want us. The PLO's objective is to purify all of Palestine of the Zionist entity. The Arab plan, plain and simple is to expel the Jewish people from their land and to liquidate Jewish sovereignty in Eretz-Yisrael. These are the people with whom the Israeli government signed an agreement, the 'Oslo Accords.' A few years ago I said that the Arabs aren't changing just as the ocean doesn't change and I hold this opinion today as well. The Arabs will not change regardless of what this government or another government of Israel does."
Shamir, of course, is afraid of a new disaster - the willingness of Israel to let Arafat and the PLO declare the establishment of a new state. Shamir does understand the consequences and ramifications of this act as to the future of Israel. This day will be a day of infamy. Also Shamir is worried because most of the Israeli-Arabs tend to define their identity as Palestinian. One should not fool himself: these new almost one million "Israeli-Palestinians" have a natural impulse-instinct inside their souls to achieve a reunion with their Palestinian counterparts behind the 'Green Line.' So perhaps even today, Arafat dreams about 'Greater Palestine', a great country in which the Jewish entity will be reduced to a new ghetto in the region. In Conversation With Yitzhak Shamir, the author, Dr. Misgav, also let the reader peep into Shamir's private life.
Shamir, who was born in Poland as Yezernitsky, became Zionist at an early age, his language was Yiddish but he learned Hebrew. He made aliyah in 1935 as a student, twenty years old. He was a member of Betar, the Jabotinsky-revisionist popular youth movement and it was natural for him to join the 'Irgun' and later the Lehi. In 1944 he married his wife who was born in Bulgaria and spoke Ladino. The ceremony was an underground event. Shamir came in disguise. The Rabbi was Areyeh Levine. It was not easy for Shamir since the British police were looking to capture him as a "terrorist." Shamir was the commander who sent two fighters Eliahu Hakim and Bet-Tsouri to Egypt to assassinate Lord Moyne, a British Minister because he was an enemy of the Jews and the Zionists. The two fighters of the Lehi, were hanged with Hatikvah on their lips. Some argued that Churchill planned to change the policies of British Mandate in favor of the Zionist but he canceled it in response to this event.
As to Shamir's family life, the following is one more story: "My son Yair was born in the underground. For various reasons I could not participate in his circumcision. I remember that there were arguments between the members about whether or not we should lead normal lives, or should we wait until the conclusion of our struggle..."
Shamir's forecasting is not easy to digest but at least Israel will save itself from the abyss of history: "In general, life for us as individuals is characterized by eternal struggle even if at times it is conducted in peaceful ways. We will not be able to survive if we are not prepared for constant struggle. The anthem of the Lehi states: 'Only death will remove you from the front," said Shamir, a 'Founding Father,' one of the last disciples and followers of Jabotinsky's heritage who would like to live in a state of real peace and not in a state of a nightmare as to the future existence of Israel as a Jewish state with Jewish majority. Indeed the 'miracle' of a million new American Olim flying 'El-Al' toward Israel will sweeten his life and will enrich his fountain of optimism and hope.
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