Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Yitzhak Shamir: "American Jews Make Aliyah! Save Israel!"

by Gad Nahshon

In the book (Hebrew) "Conversation with Shamir" by Dr. Haim Misgav (Sifriat Poalim-1947, Tel Aviv) Shamir, Israel's great former Prime Minister and the last great "Mohican" of Jabotinsky's legacy said: "Was I a charismatic person? Everyone used to mock my so call charisma." That's true, but today it is very important that every Israeli should listen to this leader who, at 84, has a unique sense of integrity. Integrity is more important than charisma. Shamir is still dedicated to the best ideas of the revisionist ideology. He stands like an old rock. He fights for his truth. One does not have to always agree or follow his conviction and assessments but, at least, with Shamir a 'founding father' of the state of Israel, the commander of 'Lehi' (Freedom Fighters of Israel), an ex-Mossad official, a leader together with Menachem Begin of the Herut-Likud party for many years, with Shamir, you know exactly where he stands on Israel's and the Jewish peoples vital issues.

In 'conversations', a book which should be translated into English as soon as possible, Shamir said: "As the years passed by I feel more and more a sense of loneliness. People of my generation are dying. Also many young people that I liked are disappearing and I miss them all. I miss, especially, all of my friends, the members of the underground organizations Lehi and the 'Irgun'. They passed away. Often I feel very, very lonely. It is also the way of nature that my loneliness is growing and keeps growing."

Shamir is worried that, in Israel, one cannot find a leader to replace him, a leader who will carry the torch of Shamir's legacy or Jabotinsky's legacy. Shamir, in his office in Tel Aviv, is aware of the new waves of crises and confrontations which can endanger the well being of the State of Israel in the next century. He is very sad that only a few people in Israel believe in any ideology. Shamir knows that the national level of morality is very low. He knows that a wave of pessimism became a new fashion in Israel's society. It radiates a state of weakness which our enemies are fast to exploit. The term 'defiance' which so much defines Shamir's policies as a leader of the 'National Camp' - Likud as well as Prime Minister, does not exist in Israel. Shamir is worried about Israel's new political defeatism. What's going on? Is Israel preparing itself for the new millennium?

When I came to see Shamir in his office in Tel-Aviv, I was welcomed with a "S.O.S." Shamir stated immediately that we should discuss, first of all, the issue of demography or Aliyah from the U.S. Shamir asked me to find those activists who will dedicate themselves to the promotion of Aliyah from this country. Shamir said that the future of Israel is at stake if Jews from the U.S. will not make Aliyah! This is, from Shamir's vantage point, an emergency situation! Shamir said: "We must develop a massive new movement of Olim from the U.S. We need at least 10 million Jews in Israel. I fought for Aliyah from Russia before anyone else. The Russian Aliyah of 60,000 Olim a year still exists but the new potential resource of Olim s the U.S. and American Jewry. I am very sad that the issue of Aliyah has been neglected by the Israeli political establishment as well as by Netanyahu's government. We do not discuss the demographic issues. This issue must be our number one priority! Without new waves of massive Aliyah we will not be able to exist. It is more important than our military-security strength."

He knows that there are parties in Israel whose policies are detrimental to the idea of Aliyah. Some are attacking the Russian Olim, some are attacking the Reform Jews, but Shamir loves each Oleh - each immigrant to Israel. He will never give up Jews because they belong to the Reform movement. He fights for good laws of absorption. He even blames Israeli Rabbis for being too rigid in the issues of conversions. Shamir is aware of the ultimate importance of demography: "The Jewish Agency is too weak. I fought as a Prime Minister with Jewish leaders and the American leaders so that every Russian Jew will come to Israel. I supported our 'liaison' organization inside the S.S.S.R. It was a long fight but Israel gained a million Olim. Today we need a revolution in the state of Aliyah from the U.S. Who is going to help me with this challenge?"

Shamir also is looking for Aliyah from France today. Shamir believes that Israel must have more Jews than the Diaspora. Shamir knows that the Israeli government, today, is not going to take the challenge. He knows that there are leaders in the U.S. who do not like to promote Aliyah inside the 'Federations'. He is also against the new Charles Bronfman project - 'Birthdate', to bring young Jews to Israel for only 10 days. "This idea is nothing," Shamir remarked. He is looking for a massive new breakthrough. In order to prepare the ground for Aliyah, Shamir suggested establishing a network of Hebrew schools in America. There was an idea to develop a project between the Israeli Education Ministry and the 'Federations'. But nothing came out of it. "We must promote Hebrew in America," Shamir said. This is the background for promoting Aliyah from America.

There are around 13 million Jews all over the world. Shamir is praying that Israel will have at least 51% of this total Jewish population! Shamir pointed out to me the recent unbelievable irony of 'Reverse Aliyah' or 'Israelis who fight for Palestinian Aliyah.' This is the old-new idea of 'enriching' the 1948's Arab refugees of around a million or more with an Israeli Arab 'Law of Return!' Shamir explained: "The Arabs, the Palestinians, the Israeli Arabs, do not want peace with us. The Arabs might be our Trojan horse. Recently, Yossi Beilin, Israel's Justice Minister, suggested that in principle, we should let Arab refugees return to Israel. Another member of the Knesset Yossi Kats declared that he is ready to absorb 100,000 refugees. Recently, the Prime Minister of Lebanon said that Israel should allow 250,000 refugees to come back to Israel. So will we face a new Arabization of Israel? What is my solution? "We need more Jews to come to Israel as well as to the West Bank."

Shamir still believes that we must defend the northern border of Israel. First, we should not evacuate the area of South Lebanon without an agreement with this government. We must secure the well being of 150,000 Israelis who live in this area. Second, we should not ever evacuate the Golan Heights. Begin was right when he said that the Golan is an integral part of Israel. Shamir remarked that the way to save Israel is: "Do not give up even an inch of our land (Golan or the West Bank). We should not retreat from this territory. And we must enjoy urgently a massive Aliyah." Shamir told me, when we discussed the issue of Israel's leaders, that he hopes that Bibi will never again come to power. Shamir believed that Bibi did not follow the Revisionist ideology and made many mistakes.

Shamir left Likud but returned recently. He is willing to support the new Likud leader Arik Sharon. On the other hand, Shamir said that Benny Begin disappointed him because as the son of Menachem Begin, he deserted the battle of the Israeli National Camp. "His father waited 29 years until he became Israel's Prime Minister in May 1997. His father never ran away from the battle," said Shamir. As to the new Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, Shamir remarked in his 'conversations': "He is not a reason for celebration in Israel. He does not have fresh new ideas. He does not follow the legacy of the true Zionists. He is only looking for personal achievements. He is a pragmatist and opportunist per se. He used to run away from responsibility. Like Netanyahu, he does not have a sense of intellectual creativity. From an ideology point of view, the two should not be the ones who can lead the country and deal with the future challenges." Shamir believes that the Israeli left mobilized Barak only as a tool to beat Netanyahu in the election: "I appointed Barak as Israel's Chief of Staff and I was aware then that he had relations with the Labor Party," said Shamir in 'Conversations.' But Shamir told me: "Today, I am angry with Barak only because he declines to carry on the flag of massive Aliyah to Israel. We need a population of ten million Jews in Israel!" Shamir thinks that this massive Aliyah will help to solve many of Israel's domestic issues and confrontations. "It will stop our national fights and the process of our disintegration. It will serve as our new 'National Cement.' It will dismantle our national wave of pessimism. It will bring birth to a new wave of national optimism. It will develop our sense of national morality. I remember the year 1967 - people said then that Israel will disappear. Some said that our youth are just corrupted. But when the Six Day War took place, suddenly Israelis turned to be like lions. Suddenly everyone turned to be new optimists. Therefore, I believe in the future of Israel and I believe in its eternity as well."

Shamir also believes that we must dismantle the basic law of direct election of our Prime Minister. Shamir would like to have a new reformed system of election and he understands that we must reform the 'coalition government' as a system. We need a new kind of an executive branch. Shamir, like Ben-Gurion, would like to take a lesson from British politics. Israel needs stability and not a system which favors political blackmail and extortions. It is no secret that Shamir believes that the 'Oslo Agreements' and its ramifications are the climax of political stupidity. Following this agreement can cause the destruction of the state of Israel. Shamir also objects to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He defines it as 'The State of Arafat'. Palestinian State means more troubles for Israel in the future. Shamir believes that the peace dynamic inside the Arab world is only our wishful thinking or imagination. He still believes that the Arabs or the Palestinians will never agree to live in a true peace with Israel.

In 'Conversation', Shamir was asked: "Do you believe that they (the Arabs) are looking to destroy the Jewish independent entity?" Shamir declared: "I have not doubt about it. But they would like to accomplish this goal, gradually. They know that they can not confront us openly." Shamir argues that the Arabs take advantage of our weakness and step by step they might achieve their ultimate goal of destroying the State of Israel.

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