Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's Ex-Prime Minister: "Bibi Dismantled the Likud as a Party"
by Gad Nahshon
"Bibi dismantled the Likud as a party," stated Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's ex-Prime Minister, a 'Founding Father' of the state of Israel, still a popular leader-statesman in his office in Tel Aviv. Shamir believes that ideology is the blood of the party. He also believes in the notion that the idea comes before the personality. He is an example of personal integrity.
Shamir is not the only one who is crying because he feels that the Likud is dying. Many members of the party expressed pessimism as to the future of the Likud. Shamir also expressed objection to the law of direct election of the Prime Minister. He believes that we should not copy American politics. "We should elect an ideology and not a personality, per se."
Yitzhak Shamir is still an Israeli political asset. Many Israeli's listened to his views because they know that he has integrity. He is following, always, the same line of thoughts. He is still a rock.
Recently, he returned from the U.S.A. He was honored there by 'Israel Bonds' and its president Gideon Patt. Shamir was the guest of honor together with the famous Russian leader, Mikhael Gorbachov. Shamir told me: "This Bond's Dinner was dedicated to commemorate the legendary struggle of the American Jewish Community for the redemption of Soviet Jewry.
1,200 guests attended this dinner. All of them took part in the great battle of freedom. Let me tell you a story: George Shultz once told me that Gorbachov used to complain to him: "Why do you push the issue of the Jews whenever you meet me? Why?" I should point out to you that Gorbachov simply wanted to stop the Jewish emigration because he knew that Russia was losing its best resources. But he never tried to close the gates of Russia." Shamir, who was one of the first Israelis to fight for the freedom of the Jews believes that many Jews will emigrate from Russia as a result of the coming back of the open Russian wave of anti-Semitism: "I do not believe that we will face pogroms again," remarked Shamir.
"A million Jews left the former Soviet union, what a success! I still remember those days in which people told me they will not come," said Shamir who is still active at 83. Recently, sad to say, the Israeli society faces a new wave of ethnic (Hebrew; 'Edot') conflicts: Sheparadim vs. Ashkenasim. The source is a wave of 'political ethnicity.' Politicians who are not responsible tend to use the 'Edot' as a political ladder. Shamir told me: "First we should not overreact.
It is a mistake to relate to the Jews from North-Africa as the ones who have suffered from the massive Russian aliyah. I do not think that the Moroccan Israelis lost their greatness because of the Russian Jews. Also we should not exaggerate the scope of hostility between these Jews or Israelis. Sad to say, there were confrontations between Russians and Moroccans in the last municipal elections. When the Olim from Russia came, everyone understood the blessing," remarked Shamir.
He also stated the fact that Israel has neglected the issues of aliyah and the Diaspora Jews: "Look, they took out the Ethiopian Jews from the hostels and they settled the Russian Olim over there. So, can you be surprised that there is hostility? Also, the fact that the Russians established their own party (Israel Bealiyah) has mobilized hostility against them. What can we do?
The Russians came with the potential of high socio-economic mobility. There are many of them in our hi-tech industry. On the other hand, many Jews from Morocco immigrated to France and contributed to the French nation. The Russians saved us. They are our blessing. However, parties such as Shas have been negative towards the Russian Olim. Well, I am optimistic and the future will solve this problem," said Shamir. He also complained that "Bibi does not care about aliyah." Israel does not have a policy of the Diaspora (or in Hebrew: 'The Tpotsot')
Shamir believes that we urgently need a new vital organization or a new agency. He is very disappointed by the work of the Jewish agency: "My message is very clear. We need to build a new structure of Jewish education in the Diaspora. We need daily schools in Hebrew. We need pluralism. I see my message as the basis for potential waves of aliyah from the U.S.A. This is my dream. Many Jewish leaders came to see me. Rabbi Jerome Epstein, for example, told me about the Hebrew schools which were established by his great conservative movement. We would like to develop in America a united movement of Hebrew culture. Many leaders here were very happy to find that I pay attention to their achievements.
They liked the fact that I wanted to know about their activities in the field of education," said Shamir, who understands the urgent demographic needs of Israel.
As to the issue of pluralism. Shamir stated: "We need to find a solution to avoid separation between Israel and America. I tend to support the American. I think that our chief Rabbis do not like to convert. And we need conversions. In the past I made efforts to find a common background for all of the religious movements. There are great leaders, the moderate ones such as Dr. Norman Lamm. As to the reform movements, I learned that this movement promoted aliyah and the studying of Hebrew.
As I said before, no one in Israel is deeply interested in Diaspora or aliyah. Dr. Jacob Neeman was in the picture but left it. This topic of aliyah is simply an Israeli orphan,' concluded Shamir.
It is not a secret that Mr. Shamir is critical of Bibi Netanyahu, especially because of the 'Oslo Accords.' Shamir argued that Bibi had no obligation to follow the Oslo agreements which Shamir views as Israel's abyss: "I still can not understand why Rabin, 'Mr. Security,' gave in to this stupidity," said Shamir who today, of course, objects to the new WLI agreements. "First, Bibi destroyed the Likud party. His duty was to prevent its disintegration. Responsible leadership meant also to lead and prevent the polarization inside this party.
In addition, there is a political danger because the two big parties are losing power in favor of many small parties. Bibi only cares for his personal rule. In the past I initiated a national united government. We must look for a national consensus.
We have too many parties. We must defend out system. We must dismantle the law of direct election of the Prime Minister as soon as possible," said Shamir. He cannot live with the fact of Israel's new deployment. "We give land. We give land without Palestinian population. We give land close to the center of Israel. My dream is to establish a huge hi-tech center over there. I dream of bringing olim over there.
Netanyahu, simply, gave in to American pressures. What are we going to do when the P.L.O. will declare Jerusalem as its capital? Arafat is working hard for his Palestinian state. Sharon? He surprised me. He will work out the permanent settlement with the P.L.O.? I do not trust him anymore," argued Shamir, still willing to fight for his views and beliefs.
He suffers from political pains and disappointments, as well. He lives with nightmares but also with the same spirit that motivated him for many years since he joined the 'Freedom Fighters of Israel'. We still have the same problem of survival. They will not agree to our presence in the Middle East.
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