Yair Shamir: Israel’s New Star
Photo: Israel Sun
By Gad Nahshon,
Exclusively for The Jewish Post
Yair Shamir is a new star in the sky of Israeli politics. He loves to fly, to be in this sky. For 25 years, he was a military pilot, a colonel in the Israeli legendary Air Force. Recently, a new political “block", Ha'Likud-Beytenu, decided to honor him as the fourth candidate at the top of its list of candidates to be members of the 19th Knesset. Yair Shamir, a charming popular man, a real gentleman and a great ‘sabra’, has a unique experience in economy and business, as well as, being an expert in Israel’s security and defense. First, he served as chairman and manager of major governmental companies and corporations such as ‘El-Al.’ He contributed by improving their activities.
Yair Shamir has great experience based on his long activity in the private sector. He built hi-tech corporations, as well. He understands the move from the present to the revolutionary future. He has an excellent sense of the international world of computers, digital, and the internet. He is also an electrical engineer.
Yair decided, only today, before the national election, to jump into the stormy ocean of Israeli politics. Only a few people know that this decision fulfilled his famous father’s dream. His legendary father used to tell me, when I visited him in his Tel Aviv office, that he wished that his son, Yair, would join Israeli politics. He wanted his son to contribute to Israel’s well-being and survival out of the private sector. He felt that Yair could do it and he was right! Sad to say, his father died in 2012, Z”L. Yair’s mother also died recently, Z”L.
Many people, including a well-known Israeli mayor, told me that Yair Shamir has the experience and the talents that Israel needs today. Shamir, as a member of the Knesset’s various committees and as a minister in the government, would be in a position to contribute his unique achievements to Israel’s economy and security.
Yair Shamir would also be unlikely to distance himself from his father’s beliefs, ideas, mission or message. He would more likely build a steel bridge to his father, who was not only a ‘man for all seasons,’ but a balanced, moderate leader. A person, who loved, and was loved by, many people. He was the personification of the Yiddish work, ‘mentch,’ means 'a decent man'. He was also very modest. Yair Shamir told me that his father was a romantic person in the broad sense of this term.
Let me explain. His father was arrested by British agents, in the British Mandate of Palestine: 1922-1948, because he was an anti-British secret fighter, and they sent him to exile in Erithrea (Asmara). The father sent romantic letters to his wife, Shulamit. In the Hebrew book, Letters to Shulamit, Yair Shamir’s painting is on the cover.
The famous, legendary father was Yitzhak Shamir, the best giant of the ‘Founders Generation’ who gave birth to Israel, the Jewish state on May 14, 1948. Let me present, briefly, the life of this father. He was a leader-commander of 'Lehi' (Freedom Fighters of Israel), an underground secretive organization, which was founded by Abraham Stern, known as ‘Yair’, who was murdered by a British agent. The ‘Yair House’ holds Lehi’s archives and is located in Tel Aviv in the same house in which he was killed in 1942. When Yitzhak Shamir and his wife, who was born in Bulgaria and also joined Lehi, had a son they decided to name his Yair in memory of Yair Stern. Later, Shamir expressed, in his Letters to Shulamit, his emotional pains as a father who was far away from his son, his baby, his child. He could not witness his son’s stages of growing. He could only send his love to his family, which was another British cruelty he had to endure. He united with his son Yair only in May of 1948. Shamir joined the Mossad in Europe and was later the Knesset speaker and a member of the Herut and Likud party. He was a disciple of Zeev Jabotinsky. He and Shulamit were members of Beitar, the Right Youth movement. Shamir was Israel’s Foreign Minister and later, its Prime Minister for nearly seven years.
Yair Shamir, in his heart, believes in the eternity of Israel as a Jewish state. Therefore, he would try to bring more Aliyah. Having more Jews in Israel is equivalent to having more oxygen. This mission is not a surprise since his father fought for the freedom of the Soviet Jews and most of them today live in Israel. He sees the problems and national challenges through the glasses of survival. Israel should never expose weaknesses.
Today, it is clear that Arabs, Palestinians, and their Muslim allies, dream of eliminating Israel by all means. Israel does not have a frontier in which to retreat. And the space between a mistake and survival is zero!
In one of his letters to his wife, Yitzhak Shamir wrote about his son, Yair: “Sleep, sleep, my son, you must sleep and grow to become very, very strong. Stronger than my enemies and your enemies, as well.” Yair Shamir certainly would draw conclusions from his father’s biography as a unique political leader who never forgot the past in order not to repeat it.
I asked Yair Shamir why he now decided to jump into the Israeli political scene which many experts consider a jungle. Why did he consider this to be the right timing? He said: “I felt that his is my last chance. It is the last hour for me, to be able to contribute to Israel’s well-being, economy and security. These contributions are based on my rich and great personal experiences. Of course, there is an aspect of age. Now it is a good time, the last one for my future contribution.” He also volunteered to help the country. He was the Chairman of the Israeli Air Industry without any pay or wage.
I asked about his goals and preferences. He replied: “Today, we are focusing on external issues. We are focusing on the Palestinian issues. We have layers upon layers of our society: cultural, economical and aging. We tend to forget and ignore our internal issues. I prefer to challenge our internal topics and subjects, first of all. For example, housing. We must encourage the private sector to challenge it and not the Israeli government.” Shamir wants to reform Israel’s transportation issues. He likes to see a train from el Aviv to Eilat. It would help the growth of the economy. It would help to improve employment. Why? It should be easy for any Israeli to live in the south, the Negev, and work in the Tel Aviv region (Dan region).
I asked Shamir what he thinks about the Israeli politics. He said: “We have 34 parties! We had 23 governments since 1948! Let’s start a reform by pushing for a united system and more integration among the parties.” What does he think about out problems with the Palestinians? “I do not see any solution. You see, recently, a notorious Hamas leader declared, in Gaza, that his holy goal, first of all, is to eliminate Israel.” At least this leader, Mashal, is honest. We cannot now, or ever, believe in the Arab’s declarations or promises. My famous Aba used to tell me that without military supremacy, Israel would reach the abyss.
What about Israel’s isolation? “It does not scare me. We should not exaggerate. It is not so bad. Recently, 19 new consulates were established in Israel. I think that this isolation would not grow. The reality does not justify a fear.” How does he estimate the achievement of Abbas (Abu-Maazen) in the UN’s General Assembly? “It does not bother me. The UN has a long record of great hypocrisy. It does not challenge urgent problems. For example, the tens of thousands of Syrians being murdered by their own government. Ben Gurion used to mock the UN by defining it as ‘um-shmum.’ (The UN is a joke, a dead entity.) There are 100 pro-Arab members out of a total of 193 members. Their goal and policy is to scare Israeli public opinion. They try to seduce it. Why? They are looking for an Israeli to agree to their precedent.” Also, Israel never should think that Abbas and his Palestinian Authority would achieve a union with the Hamas. It would always be an artificial one, said Yair.
My last question was can you assess the future of US-Israeli relations? “Recently, I met the delegation of the pro-Israeli lobby, AIPAC. I came to the conclusion that we should not be afraid of anti-Israeli decisions. Why? I am sure that the U.S.A. has a deep feeling for Israel’s survival and security in the Middle East. We both have the same set of values! America sees Israel’s unique power and importance. Israel is a strong and stable democracy. Israel is also an Iron Wall against the Arabs and those in the Muslim world who are anti-American or part of the anti-West movement. Today, we are facing earthquakes, the Arab Spring. So we have to wait until it would be quiet.”
Israel, therefore, is an asset. Yair Shamir sees Israel as a country that can help the USA and the West to challenge Muslim terrorism (Al Qaeda, Jihadism, fundamentalism, extremism, the Muslim Brotherhood, Sharia and so on). We are facing, in our global village, an international wave of Muslim imperialism and forced dictatorships.
Yair Shamir is clearly a new star who built his professional life with his own hands.