Yitzhak Shamir: "Where is the American Jewry?"
by Gad Nahshon
"Where is the American Jewry. American Jews do not come to visit Israel. They keep silent when Israel now needs them so much. We feel so lonely. Some Jews who visited Israel recently suddenly run back to the states. I am shocked by their attitude. I do not hear their voices inside America," said Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's legendary leader, ex-prime minister, a 'founding father' of Israel in his official office in Tel Aviv.
Celebrating his 86 years, Shamir, one of the last disciples of Zeev Jabotinsky, and a guardian angel of his legacy and heritage. Shamir is a great believer in the eternity of Israel. He also believes that a 'miracle' will take place in the future: a massive aliyah from... the U.S.A.! He said that, in the past, people used to tell him that the Jews in the Soviet Union simply lost their identity, a lost case. History shows that they were wrong. Shamir supports the policies of Arik Sharon: "He can also stand firm against American pressures," Shamir once told me. "By the way, Sharon should not send his son, Omri, to meet with Arafat," remarked Shamir, who, in principle, is against Sharon's practice of using his son for governmental missions. It is no secret that Shamir objects to the return of Bibi Netanyahu to power.
Did he change his attitude to Bibi? Can he reconsider his objections? Shamir told me without any hesitation: "I did not change my attitude to Bibi." Indeed many members of the Likud party do believe that Bibi might come back to power in a post-Sharon era. Although there are some more candidates such as Silvan Shalom or Limor Livnat. Shamir always tends to preface the ideology to the personalities. One can learn about his ideology from his conversations with D"r Mishgav which were translated to English by David Aisner (Talpiot Press, 2000) or Conversations with Shamir.
Shamir always told the Israelis that the Oslo Accords were a disaster to Israel. Oslo was typical Israeli stupidity. Shamir systematically cried out: "Do not push yourself into the abyss of history." He always stated that "The P.L.O. 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." He pointed out that the 'peace process' was used by the P.L.O. to destroy Israel. The P.L.O. has managed an 'attrition war' against Israel. Indeed, many Israelis should call Shamir to tell him: "We were wrong. We were victims of the P.L.O. propaganda and lies, as well."
From his office I learned that many Israelis did call Shamir, who is a very modest person. Shamir believes in the motto: "The eternity of Israel shall never be forsaken." He is strong like a rock. He believes also that the Bush administration will not betray Israel. He believes in the coming of olim from America. He believes in the legacy of those fighters of the 'Freedom Fighters of Israel' or the Lehi who sacrificed their lives for the establishment of a Jewish free state, of those who were hanged by the British Mandate's government with Hatikvah on their lips.
Recently, as a tribute to Shamir, Israel's Defense Ministry's official publishing house published a unique touching book Letters to Shulamit. (His son Yair Shamir produced the cover.) It is a collection of 23 letters which Shamir sent in the end of 1946 to his young, wife Shulamit Shamir, who was born in Bulgaria. Shamir, then the commander of the Lehi, was arrested by the British security forces and was exiled to Aritria. Shamir managed to escape from the British prison but he came back to Palestine almost after a year in France.
It is not surprising to find that Shamir wrote in his forward to this intimate-autobiographical documents (letters): "Shulamit and my little son, Yair, were the true heroes of these letters... That's the real truth since the families of the underground's fighters were the epitome of great heroism. This heroism should always be an example to all of us to follow." It should be explained that Shulamit Shamir was also a Lehi's fighter. She met the top secret Lehi small organization (or in the eyes of the British 'The Stern Gang'). They married in the underground. Furthermore, Yair Shamir (Yair was the nickname of the Lehi's founder, Abraham Stern) was born in the underground in August, 1945. It was a terrible period since Shamir could not help Shulamit. He could not, because of his secret activities, even attend his own son's birth. And then when Yair was only one year old, Shamir was arrested. He united with is wife and son in May 1948! It was then a traumatic experience for Shamir , then a thirty year old fighter of the Lehi: "How did they dare to expel me from my own country?" wrote Shamir in Letters to Shulamit.
These letters expressed Shamir's pains, Shamir's frustrations, and Shamir's love for his far away family. It is also an exposition of Shamir's unique characteristics which paved the way for his political career and achievements: modesty, gentleness, honesty, integrity, sensitivity, and dedication to his ideology and way of life. It is not surprising to find that we still relate to Shamir as a unique model or example to be followed. Indeed, Shamir is a lamp shining from above on the ugliness of Israel's political culture. Shamir once stated: "A few years ago, I said that the Arabs are not 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 other governments of Israel does."
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