The Israeli "Oslo Abyss"
An Interview With Israel's Elder Leader and Founding Father Itshaq Shamir
By: Gad Nahshon
Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's elder leader, founding father and ex-Prime Minister is very popular today. This Israeli "noca" and statesman, the charismatic leader of Lehi (the so-called "Stern gang"), who dedicated his life in the secret underground fighting to expel the British imperialists from Palestine is the epitome of integrity in politics today. He demonstrates a rare devotion to ideology and to the survival of Israel in the next century.
Shamir told me in this office in Tel Aviv, "The Lehi (Freedom Fighters for Israel) fought to achieve freedom and a free Jewish state. But we did not discuss in the 1940's the issue of what will be the essence of this new born state", but Shamir certainly could not dream that Israel after 50 years of survival will reach its low points. He knows that the Israeli society is frustrated. He knows that the national moral mood is very low. He knows that Israel lost its basic national consensus from too many domestic confrontations. The social-political tension is very high.
Shamir does not like, as a true Israel patriot, to talk about domestic issues but rather as a new prophet, he tends to blame Israel's reality on one thing: "The Oslo Agreements". The changes come from the North. Shamir truly believes that these Agreements have destroyed Israel's normality. He even tends to link our domestic problem to the ramifications of "Oslo", "Oslo is the demon - the monster - a national plague". It is the new Israeli abyss. And Shamir with personal pain has cried out: "Cry out my beloved Israel".
Shamir lives today with a nightmare called "Oslo". And he attacks the Likud government, his own party, for pushing Israel further and deeper into this abyss. The villains, the ones who should be blamed for this abyss, are: Peres and the late Rabin. Shamir told me: "Rabin was 'Mr. Security. I still cannot understand how he could have made this terrible, stupid mistake. How could he?"
Shamir believes that up to 1990 Israel had enjoyed a sort of security paradise. He presented his thesis to me: "In the post-Six Day War era Israel was lucky to have years of national prosperity. We were strong. We had more chances to develop our potential. Our national situation was excellent. Suddenly we signed the Oslo Agreements, accords. I have since then been in a process of shock.
This 'Oslo' is a terrible by-product of national stupid politics. Why?" Before Oslo we knew for sure that the P.L.O. was in a process of disintegration. The P.L.O. reached a point of total bankruptcy. All of the experts told me that in 1991 the P.L.O. lost its prestige and contributions. Many Palestinians offered to help us. The Moss Aliyah from Russia indeed tended to demoralize the P.L.O. Then came the Madrid Conference.
Then I told President Bush: "Please do not talk about the slogan 'Territories for Peace." And he followed my demand. The Americans do keep their promises. The Arabs in Madrid refused to hear about territorial compromise. They were the ones who rejected the idea of peace. They attacked President Bush whenever he mentioned the term "peace".
Suddenly came Peres, Rabin and Yossi Beilin and gave the Arabs who were withering away, the desperate ones, the P.L.O., they gave them a life preserver. Of course, Arafat immediately took it and exploited it to the utmost. Since then they have become the winners. They received Gaza. They are not isolated anymore. They have an Army with weapons. They have a lot of money. We saved their necks and they did not give us anything in return.
The "Oslo" is a stupid decision. Mr. Barab, the labor leader, said that in Oslo we made some mistakes. He is wrong. Oslo was a cosmic mistake. I still think that someone seduced Rabin to support Oslo. Then we have to suffer from terrorism. We let them build the infrastructure for this terror. "We built it in Gaza", said Shamir.
Shamir, 83, is a strong man. He is very active. He tries the change the policies. He admonishes Bibi Netanyahu because he now lets Israel suffer from the "Oslo Abyss". This situation is dangerous. His nightmare is a new erection of a Palestinian Free State. "The P.L.O. was on the verge of collapse. We saved them. They lost their dream of a state. They lost their dream to push us into the sea. But now see for yourself", remarked Shamir.
He pointed out to me that the P.L.O. is honest. They tell you about their wish to take Jerusalem, the Gallilei, Haifa, Jaffa. Now they want to open their own airport in Gaza so that the P.L.O. will be able to bring in millions of Arabs who define themselves as refugees. What is the answer to the P.L.O.'s dreams, wishes and hubris?
Shamir stated: "We need the millions of Jews from the West. We need people. This is a basic guarantee for our survival in the next century. Recently I visited the Town of Ofra and I saw huge, empty lands and said to myself: "Here we should establish our Silicon Israeli Valley. We have a great future: empty lands and good climate located in the center of Israel close to Jerusalem. These are ideal conditions for a new Zionist revolution. Well, Bibi wants to give the P.L.O. 50% of these territories".
Shamir believes that we should strengthen our links to World Jews. He believes that issues such as the "Conversion Law" can be solved. We do not need conflicts with the Jews. Of course, he does not like the aggressive style of some of the new Jewish leaders in America.
"In 1988 I was pressed by Dr. Alexander Shindler about the issue of "Who is a Jew". I was attacked and under pressure. I had, also, to form my government, as well. I wanted to avoid a war with the Jews. Then my solution was: a national unity government. The issue disappeared and the Jews were satisfied. And Agudath Israel was out of my government."
Before I left Shamir, this elder, strong statesman, when I stood up to say goodbye, Shamir said: "I never, ever have given up an inch of land". He is the "Rock". You do not have to agree. But deep inside your heart you know: "Dismantle Oslo before it will dismantle your country for good". "Oslo", Shamir believes, is like an H.I.V. virus inside our veins. It destroys our political mind, our reasonable judgments and our mental balance.
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