greetings on his day

The anti-politician in many ways.Anathema to Israel’s liberal secular elite, who regarded him as totally lacking in the “aesthetics” of the “new jew”. Not exactly Abba Eban.  To some a terrorist, to others a true patriot. Not smooth,devoid of drama,majesty and sweep, not given to polemics and long elocutions he was however, a statesman in his own way, and very much a man of the people. Of main street and not of the German Jewish money and limited number of families that tend to run the country like an income trust fund. Not much Shamir could do about that.

He also regarded as completely irrelevant that Palestinian Arabs could debate a distinct cultural,Islamic spiritual and geopolitical tradition in Palestine, and, justifiably, an accumulating dossier of grievances against Zionism, which were shoveled onto on the sediment of long dated Turkish and later British occupation. Jewish sense of history, destiny, and Biblical intrinsic rights trumped these concerns. While it was true  that the Palestinians were used as  as pawns to be mistreated and betrayed by most Arab elite;   King Abdullah, the Hashemite ruler of Jordan, among others, the flashpoint of those grievances rested on those who in the Palestinians perception took their land; to which a Shamir could comprehend but regard it as a secondary factor in the larger scheme of things, an intuitive understanding of Jewish redemption, while also, perhaps, realizing that Zionism was delaying this messianic arrival. Shamir’s concern was always the past Jewish threat in Europe and battling for survival in Palestine, and this focus on sanctuary-homeland led him to a very narrow and stiff Zionist view of the Palestinian conflict and his pessimism for land for peace arrangements, at least in retrospect was not ill-founded.

—During his meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Shamir asked Walesa about continued anti-Semitism in Poland. He mentioned the PLO office in Warsaw and Poland’s arms dealings with Iraq, Iran and Syria, as indication of Poland’s continued anti-Jewish, anti-Israel sentiments.
In response, Walesa turned to Shamir and said, “Mr. Prime Minister, for the Jewish blood that was spilled in Poland, I, on behalf on the Polish people, beg your forgiveness.”
We were all shocked. This was a tremendous statement. Neither I, nor any of us ever expected such a full-hearted apology.
Shamir respectfully accepted his words but continued to challenge him about the PLO office in Warsaw and the arms dealings with Israel’s enemies.
Walesa said, “When I get back to Poland, I will shut down the PLO office immediately and stop selling arms.”
Personally, I thought that he had just committed political suicide. With 25% unemployment in Poland, reducing sales would cause the loss of even more jobs, and I thought that his political career would be finished.
But he did it. He immediately shut down the PLO office. I traveled back to Poland with him and witnessed it. Then he stopped selling arms to Syria, Iraq and Iran.—Read More:

The word of grace is flung from foreign thrones
And strangers lord it in the ruling-hall;
The shield of David rusts upon the wall;
The lion of Judah seeks to roar, and groans..

He asks, “Where are the brave, the mighty? They are bones. / Bar Cochba’s star has suffered its last fall” ( A.M. Klein)

( see link at end) …Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who clung throughout his life to the belief that Israel should hang on to territory and never trust an Arab regime, has died. He was 96 years old.

Israeli media said he died at a nursing home in Herzliya Saturday, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement mourning Shamir’s death.

—Many of his friends and colleagues ascribed his character to his years in the underground in the 1940s, when he sent Jewish fighters out to kill British officers whom he saw as occupiers. He was a wanted man then; to the British rulers of the Palestine mandate he was a terrorist, an assassin. He appeared in public only at night, disguised as a Hasidic rabbi. But Mr. Shamir said he considered those “the best years of my life.” —Read More:

Yitzhak Shamir was a successful politician despite a lack of outward charm and charisma.

Shamir served as prime minister for seven years, from 1983-84 and 1986-92, leading his party to election victories twice, despite lacking much of the outward charm and charisma that characterizes many modern politicians. He was the second longest-serving prime minister after Israel’s founder David Ben-Gurion

Barely over five feet tall and built like a block of granite, Shamir projected an image of uncompromising solidity at a time

Palestinians rose up in the West Bank and Gaza, demanding an end to Israeli occupation.

Defeated in the 1992 election, he stepped down as head of the Likud party and watched from the sidelines as his successor, Yitzhak Rabin, negotiated interim land-for-peace agreements with the Palestinians….

—He and his defense minister, Mr. Rabin, deployed thousands of Israeli troops throughout the occupied territories to quash the rebellion. They failed; the years of violence and death on both sides brought criticism and condemnation from around the world.
The fighting also deepened divisions between Israel’s two political camps: leftists who believed in making concessions to bring peace, and members of the right who believed, as Mr. Shamir once put it, that “Israel’s days without Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip are gone and will not return.” —Read More:

…The agreements, including Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s recognition of Israel, did nothing to ease his suspicion.

In a 1997 interview with the New York-based Jewish Post, he declared: “The Arabs will always dream to destroy us. I do not believe that they will recognize us as part of this region.”

He embraced the ideology of the Revisionists — that Israel is the sole owner of all of the biblical Holy Land, made up of Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.Read More:

Shamir’s views pretty much reflected the Zionism of the British Mandate in Palestine as formulated by Lord Balfour:

For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country … The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudice of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. …


(see link at end)…After the British police killed Mr. Stern in 1942, Mr. Shamir became one of the group’s top commanders. Under his leadership it began a campaign of what it called personal terror, assassinating top British military and government officers, often gunning them down in the street.

To the Jewish public, and even to the other Jewish underground groups, Mr. Shamir’s gang was “lacking even a spark of humanity and Jewish conscience,” Israel Rokach, the mayor of Tel Aviv, said in 1944 after Stern Gang gunmen shot three British police officers on the streets of his city….

—Film director Merav Ktorza and her cameraman Alon Eilat interviewed Eilon in January, 1996. Off camera he told them, “Yitzhak Shamir called me into his office a month before the assassination and told me, `They’re planning to do another Arlosorov on us. Last time they did it, we didn’t get into power for fifty years. I want you to identify anyone you hear of threatening to murder Rabin and stop him.’” In 1933, a left wing leader Chaim Arlosorov was murdered in Tel Aviv and the right wing Revisionists were blamed for it. This was Israel’s first political murder and its repercussions were far stronger than those of the Rabin assassination which saw the new Likud Revisionists assume power within a year.
Shamir was the former head of the Mossad’s European desk and had extensive intelligence ties. He was informed of the impending assassination in October. Two witnesses heard Eilon make this remarkable claim but he would not go on camera with it or any other statement. Shortly after his famous press conference and testimony to the Shamgar Commission, Eilon stopped talking publicly about the assassination.—Read More:

…Years later, however, Mr. Shamir contended that it had been more humane to assassinate specific military or political figures than to attack military installations and possibly kill innocent people, as the other underground groups did. Besides, he once said, “a man who goes forth to take the life of another whom he does not know must believe only one thing: that by his act he will change the course of history.”

Several histories of the period have asserted that he masterminded a failed attempt to kill the British high commissioner, Sir Harold MacMichael, and the killing in Cairo of Britain’s minister of state for the Middle East, Lord Moyne. When Mr. Shamir was asked about these episodes in later years, his denials held a certain evasive tone. Read More:

Klein’s response to Palestinian hostility in “Greeting on This Day” is representative of the Zionist position:

0 Chronicler, pull down the heavy tome;
Open a blank page, fashion a pen from bone;
Dip it in skulls where blood is ink; inscribe
The welcome Jews received on coming home. (9-12)

…The conclusion of Klein’s poem, nevertheless, is a lovely vision:

The muezzin upon the minaret
Announces dawn once more; the Moslem kneels;
Elation lifts the Jew from off his heels;
Izak and Ishmael are cousins met.
No desert cries encircle Omar’s dome,
No tear erodes the Wall of ancient pain;
Once more may brothers dwell in peace at home;
Though blood was spattered, it has left no stain;
The greeting on this day is loud Shalom!
The white dove settles on the roof again. ( richard lemm)

There is no condescension, no privileging of the Jewish position, and the Moslem is granted a humanity equal to that of the Jew. Here, if briefly, Klein establishes metonymic and symbolic equivalencies which resolve the conflict. The resolution, however, is primarily in religious terms: the crucial geopolitical (and economic) oppositions are absent from this discourse. Klein, a sharp political thinker on certain other matters, is unable to acknowledge the preconditions in Palestine for the spiritual tolerance and kinship he envisions. Read More:

…He had a good public relations sense and firmly believed that Israel’s case would be much better understood abroad if it were projected more effectively. Shamir undertook much bridge-building with Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, and proved to be a hard worker who put in 12-hour days at the office. He read profusely every cable, analysis and intelligence report that came across his desk, and had an excellent memory, keen interest in details, and did not indulge in office politics.

It was at that time that he begin to refute the popular perception which still regarded him as an uncompromising ex-Lehi hardliner. He became more tolerant of other views and perspectives, shared by the majority of the formerly Labor-appointed diplomatic staff. He no longer perceived that there is only one way for Israel to follow, but started considering the possibility of a compromise approaches in some areas, while retaining his bed-rock belief in the unity of the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria.Read More:

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