July 5: Thoughts on Shamir

The eulogies given by those who were vehemently opposed to his views are a testimony to Shamir’s character.

(photo credit:)
(photo credit: )
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 man.
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 Israel.
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.
Bnei Brak
Sir, – 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 many accepted.
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.
Shamir’s 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.
Sir, – The piece by Ayanawo Fareda Sanbatu on Yitzhak Shamir (“The Ethiopian Jewish community remembers a great leader,” Comment & Features, July 3) drew my attention.
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 regime.
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.
Addis Ababa
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 English).
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.
Maybe Baskin 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 Zionist.
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.
Mevaseret Zion
Lost in translation
Sir, – 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 language.
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.
Bushinsky 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.
The writer is director of the Israel office of the Zionist Organization of America

Balance is enough
Sir, – 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.
Hopefully, 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.)