In Plain Language: The Shamir legacy

Israel, a most progressive country, is great at recycling former political higher-ups.

July 5, 2012 12:06
Yitzhak Shamir's funeral

Yitzhak Shamir's funeral 370. (photo credit: ReutersMarc Israel Sellem)

I had the privilege of meeting Yitzhak Shamir on numerous occasions, primarily at rabbinic gatherings both in Israel and abroad, where I lived during his tenure as prime minister. When visiting Israel and staying in Jerusalem, I would wait for him on Aza Street on Shabbat afternoons, when he would habitually stroll with his guards through the Rehavia neighborhood, meeting and greeting the locals and tourists alike. I was always struck by the fact that he didn’t look very “presidential,” as he was quite short and grandfatherly, and dressed rather casually.

Later, I came to understand that Israeli prime ministers were elected more on the merit system than by virtue of their looks or charisma. In fact, many of our greatest statesmen were somewhat “vertically challenged” – David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and our present PM among them – and yet they possessed a commanding presence that emanated from their superior intellect and fierce devotion to the state.


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