Thoughts on Shamir
Sir, – Greer Fay Cashman’s report on the funeral of Yitzhak
Shamir (“Many dignitaries at Mount Herzl bid final farewell to Israel’s seventh
prime minister,” July 3) most certainly exhibited the respect due this great
The eulogies given by those who were vehemently opposed to his views
are a testimony to Shamir’s character, nobility and high ethical code. He took
great pride in the fact that he never ceded an inch of the Land of
May he rest in peace.
Sir, – Yitzhak
Shamir was a grand master of strategy. He always tried to avoid the tactics of
war. In 1991 he had to stand up to then-US secretary of state James Baker after
Baker’s rough and very public rebuke to Shamir, “give me a call when you’re
serious about peace.”
We were blessed to have Shamir. The world could
learn from studying his major decisions.
In all the recollections about Yitzhak Shamir, one of his greatest achievements
has been forgotten.
When Russian Jews were allowed to leave the Soviet
Union, the United States was willing to grant them refugee status, and indeed
It was impossible to conceive what could be done about
this, for how could anyone interfere with free choice, even if it had been
influenced by years of anti- Zionist propaganda, and even if it meant the loss
of a vast proportion of the Jewish people who remained? It was Shamir who did
something, to my mind more courageous than any conventional act of courage: He
asked US President Ronald Reagan to revoke their refugee status on the grounds
that they were not refugees at all. They had a homeland, Israel. As a result, a
huge proportion of Russian Jews ultimately wound up here.
ability to act in a way that ran counter to a popular ideal – the inviolability
of free choice – could only have been done out of great love. It was a decision
that only a mother or father could understand.
– The piece by Ayanawo Fareda Sanbatu on Yitzhak Shamir (“The Ethiopian Jewish
community remembers a great leader,” Comment & Features, July 3) drew my
No doubt, Shamir made history when he resolved to make members
of the Ethiopian Jewish community part and parcel of the modern State of Israel.
Both operations that airlifted Ethiopian Jews to Israel, in the 1980s and early
1990s, involved coordination with key elements of the Ethiopian
Indeed, it took a determined leader like Shamir to help this
community make the transformation from an agrarian African environment to an
industrialized Western democratic framework.
ESAYAS B. GEBRE-MESKEL
Sir, – It’s a shame we hear the summation of one’s life and
accomplishments only after he’s in the ground.
Yitzhak Shamir was a most
admirable man. Reading all the articles about him and then looking at all the
clowns running (or opposing) the government today makes me very sad for the
future of the State of Israel.
But I did get a chuckle reading “Thousands
mourn Shamir in the Knesset” (July 3), where former prime minister Ehud Olmert,
currently in the middle of several corruption trials, eulogized Shamir by saying
that “he was straight as a ruler” (or arrow, as we say in
Olmert admires someone who’s straight and honest? What would he
know about it?
Kadima Look deep
Sir, – Sometimes it is necessary to
dig deep to discover the truth.
“Digging through the remnants of a
Palestinian village abandoned in 1948 and later bulldozed, archeologists came
upon an ancient Jewish village centered around the large synagogue”
(“Archeologists uncover Roman-era synagogue,” June 3).
Perhaps this will
persuade the UN Human Rights Council to rethink its conclusions regarding the
“Jewish occupation of Arab lands,” although most likely it will continue to
ignore history and the facts that are in the ground.
Let us know
Sir, – Gershon Baskin (“Is my Zionist dream dead?,”
Encountering Peace, July 3) poignantly asks if our prime minister is “lying” to
us. Nowhere in his passionate, heartfelt cry does he ask the same question of
those who refuse to negotiate with us without preconditions.
has called on our neighbors with the same plea, in Arabic. If so, he should let
us know of any response.
Sir, – Gershon Baskin
asks whether there is a place in the State of Israel for a Jew, a
I sincerely hope there is, because it has already been made
abundantly clear by the Palestinian leadership that in the new Palestinian state
no Jews will be allowed. Furthermore, most of the Arab countries in the area do
not seem particularly welcoming to us either.
Doesn’t get it
Sir, – Where’s the outrage? Where are the protests? Our prime
minister and finance minister are doubling the 2013 budget deficit target to 3
percent of the gross domestic product despite strong opposition from central
bank and Treasury officials (“Government approves expansion of budget deficit
target to 3%,” July 2).
Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel,
shepherded the State of Israel to safety during the stormiest of economic times
and received plaudits worldwide not only for maintaining fiscal integrity but
for surpassing all economic goals.
Now he has warned that the move could
have disastrous consequences for the economy.
I don’t get it. I just
don’t get it.
Lost in translation
– Jay Bushinsky (“The creeping annexation of Judea and Samaria,” Observations,
June 29) suggests that one way to achieve “genuine integration” and
rapprochement between Jew and Arab is to master each other’s
Better understanding of the other certainly is a laudable goal,
as I learned, for example, from my Arabic speaking son’s experiences with Beduin
patients when he was a med student at Ben-Gurion University.
goes terribly wrong, however, with his piein- the-sky assertion that Palestinian
Arabs should study formal Hebrew “so they can appreciate the scope of Hebraic
culture from biblical times to the contemporary era.” The fact is, the PA would
never allow a program that exposes the Jewish nation’s intimate, historical
connection to the land.
First things first: Ask the PA’s political,
religious and academic leadership to cease their saber-rattling and show
evidence of a true desire for coexistence, if not outright peace – in Arabic,
for their own people.
Jerusalem The writer is director of the
Israel office of the Zionist Organization of America
Balance is enough
Hats off to Ilya Meyer (“A view from Sweden: Raoul Wallenberg – sullying a
hero’s reputation,” Observations, June 29) for the terrific work he is doing
with young Swedes about showing them what Israel really is.
these young people – the future leaders of Sweden, after all – will adopt a more
balanced attitude toward us. (I don’t dare dream about a sympathetic attitude.)