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Israel’s Grittiest Founder

Yitzhak Shamir, who died Saturday, was maligned for his politics. But his bitter realism was prescient.

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Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir attending a street-naming ceremony commemorating deceased members of the Lehi, the underground that fought the British, in Petah Tikva on April 15, 1992. (AFP/Getty Images)
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About a year ago, I was standing with Yitzhak Shamir’s son at a reception in the Tel Aviv area. Yair Shamir looks a great deal like his father; blink and it’s easy to imagine that you’re speaking with the former prime minister, who died this past Saturday at 96. I don’t recall everything Yair and I discussed at that reception, but I do recall how the conversation ended. We were both standing there, glasses of wine in hand, and Yair said to me: “People ask, ‘Must the sword devour forever?’ And the answer is ‘Yes, it will.’ ”

I was dumbstruck.

I was moved, first, by the ease with which some secular Israelis still glide into biblical idiom. After all, Yair could have said, “People ask, ‘Will peace never come?’ ” But he didn’t. He cited the verse, ha-lanetzach tochal cherev, a verse from Samuel II in which Abner, the commander of King Saul’s army, calls out to Joab, who led David’s forces, begging him to bring the fighting between them to an end.

But I was no less struck—and even disturbed—by the ease with which Yair simply answered “yes.” In the American, suburban home in which I was raised, we were taught that war was an aberration. Conflict is solvable. If war persisted, then both sides had been less bold than they needed to be. If Americans and North Vietnamese wanted to, they could figure out a way to end the conflict; the same was clearly true of Jews and Arabs.

It was one of the great principles of liberal Jewish American life, and I believed it with every fiber of my being. At least I did when we moved to Israel some 14 years ago.

Yair’s off-handed but startling comment, one his father surely would have made, was a reminder of what has undoubtedly been the single most difficult dimension of making aliyah—learning to accept, however grudgingly, that the moral assumptions of my old life are wholly inapplicable to the place my family now calls home. The Middle East is not a Hebrew-speaking version of the comfortable, safe, conflict-free suburban Baltimore in which I’d been raised. I had moved, Yair unintentionally reminded me, from the land of Jeffersonian optimism to the land of hard-edged biblical realism. “Yes,” this scion of Israeli royalty said to me in a way that no American probably ever would, “the sword will consume forever.”

The death of Yitzhak Shamir, one of Israel’s gritty, less-celebrated heroes, is a reminder to many of us immigrants that along with the larger houses and seemingly all-pervasive civility, what we had to leave behind was a distinctly American optimism, wholly foreign to the political reality in which we now find ourselves. When I went to the Knesset today to pay my last respects to one of the nation’s founders, I found myself musing on the brusque honesty to which we were saying goodbye. We’d love some of that upbeat American optimism. Shamir would probably have enjoyed it as well; he simply wasn’t willing to pay the price of self-delusion.


Shamir lived a life that left no room for anything but a brutally honest assessment of his surroundings. Born in Ruzhany (today Belarus), he joined Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Zionist Betar movement in his youth and cut short his law studies to make his way to Palestine. His parents and siblings were murdered during the war.

Once in Palestine, Shamir commanded the extreme, sometimes violent Lehi underground group. He was hunted by the British, arrested, and then he escaped. Post-independence, Shamir eventually joined the Mossad and entered politics relatively late in life. When Menachem Begin unexpectedly resigned as prime minister in August 1983, Shamir ascended and served, in total, longer than any other premier besides David Ben-Gurion. Though Shamir attended the Madrid Peace Conference, acceded to American requests not to respond to Iraqi attacks during the First Gulf War, and oversaw Operation Solomon, which brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, his reputation today is primarily that of a hard-liner, a member of the underground in his youth and unyielding with the Arabs later in life.

In the Jewish world, criticizing our leaders, biblical or modern, is not heresy. Abraham, as countless commentators have noted, was hardly the warmest of fathers. King David tolerated no challenges to his rule, turning even his sons into enemies. One of the majestic qualities of the Jewish tradition is that it has long recognized that great leaders are not perfect. We are taught that we can criticize our heroes even as we learn from them.

But these days, we’re much better at the critique than we are at the learning.

Yitzhak Shamir has not escaped this fate. Much maligned in life for his uncompromising positions, he has been treated no more kindly in death. At the Knesset today, I expected throngs of people and a long line, but it was virtually empty. An honor guard, his family in a row of chairs, and maybe a dozen or two onlookers. There were, quite literally, more press photographers than there were people who had come to pay their last respects. The obituaries in Haaretz verged on crudely dismissive. “Farewell to the accidental prime minister,” one obituary’s headline smirked. Another claimed that he was “an honest liar, one we can be proud of.” A “legacy of despair” crowed a third.

Yes, Shamir’s stances on territory, Palestinians, and other issues are out of vogue today, even in parts of his party, Likud. But shouldn’t his passing serve as a reminder of the ashes out of which this country was built and of the extraordinary desperation and conviction that were required to create it?

Must the sword devour forever? We’d like the answer to be no, but Shamir was not inclined to pretense. This was a man, after all, whose father escaped the Nazis only to be stoned to death by his former neighbors (and purported friends) when he returned to Ruzhany. David Landau, the former editor in chief of Haaretz, wrote in his obituary for Shamir that Shamir once said to him, “The Poles imbibe anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” at which point Avi Pazner, Shamir’s spokesman, interjected that “that was off the record.” “No, it wasn’t,” Shamir corrected him. He knew what he knew. He believed what he believed.

Yes, he admitted without remorse, he had ordered the execution of Eliyahu Giladi, a rogue member of the Lehi, back in his underground days, insisting that there had been no alternative. The Stern Gang, which Shamir led after Avraham Stern was killed by the British, crossed lines that the more mainstream Jewish community in Palestine found abhorrent. The Lehi played a role, along with the Haganah and Begin’s Etzel, in the Deir Yassin massacre. Regarding their attempted assassination of Harold MacMichael, commissioner of the British Mandate, a wholly unrepentant Shamir later said: “There are those who say that to kill Martin (a British sergeant) is terrorism, but to attack an army camp is guerrilla warfare and to bomb civilians is professional warfare. But I think it is the same from the moral point of view. Is it better to drop an atomic bomb on a city than to kill a handful of persons? I don’t think so. But nobody says that President Truman was a terrorist.”


It’s good that many Jews struggle with the choices that leaders like Shamir and Begin and Ariel Sharon made. Yet a bit of humility is in order as we assess those who devoted their lives to building the Jewish state. Ours is not the world that Shamir and his generation inherited. Ours is a world in which the Jews are secure, and largely safe, in no small measure as a result of what those men and women did. Are we foolish enough to imagine that the British relinquished their hold on the colonies because early colonial Americans signed petitions? American Revolutionary heroes knew exactly what Shamir and others knew: The British would leave when the costs became too high.

The difference is that the American Revolution has the advantage of having unfolded centuries, rather than decades ago, so many of the disturbing details have been lost. But are we so naïve to imagine that there are not profound parallels and continuities between what unfolded in the 13 colonies in the middle of the 18th century and what happened in Palestine in the middle of the 20th?

Ben-Gurion, Begin, Shamir, and their generation, like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and theirs, believed that freedom would come only with sovereignty and that sovereignty would come only with victory. No matter Labor or Likud, they all shared that belief—and they were all right.

For all the misgivings many now have about Shamir’s intransigence or his specific policies, part of his legacy is that Jews ought not to pretend not to know what, deep down, they know. Yitzhak Shamir knew what he had seen, both in Europe and then in the Arab world, and he knew what it meant. He was no less ambivalent about the Arabs than he was about the Poles and refused to vote for Begin’s peace treaty with Egypt. Presumably in deference to Begin, he abstained, but he made it clear that he thought Israel was paying far too high a price. Today, three and a half decades later, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Cairo and with Israel now missing the Sinai as a buffer, who was wiser? Was it the Nobel Prize-winning Begin who’d turned peacemaker, or Shamir, who had not? Will the sword devour forever? Yes, Shamir sadly believed, it will. Is it possible that he was right?


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yevka says:

Shamir went to the lowest depths of bullying and badgering to secure from administration of George Bush Sr. 10 billion dollars in loan guarantees in order to expand illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank which now has led in these mad times to the larger problems that Israel has hitched itself to. Bush resisted approving the loans but Shamirs style of pit bull pettiness backed Bush into a cowering corner and madness rose victorious.

    JamesGarbarzewich says:

    The loan guarantees were used to bring one million Russian Jews to Israel. This
    has made Israel a powerhouse of technology and start-ups unprecedented in the middle east. Israeli companies are the largest block in the Nasdaq generating billions of dollars traded daily. Largest USA technology companies like Intel, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, HP are heavily invested in Israel and profiting from the technology gold mine.

    Judea and Samaria businesses and products of high standards and quality are exported all over the world. And Palestinians purchase these products in preference to lower quality products af Arab origin.

    You can not hide the truth promulgated by lack of credibility ultra leftists.

    The GDP of Israel is 240 billion USA dollars, GDP/population is over 33,000 USA dollars making Israel one of the most advanced countries in the world. Palestinian construction workers earn over a one billion USA dollars by working in Judea and Samaria. Over 100 million USA dollars in taxes collected by Israel are transferred to the Palestinian Authorities so their government can exist.

    The approval of the loan guarantees by George Wakler Bush have gone a long way. Israel never defaulted on those loan guarantees ans repaid

      JamesGarbarzewich says:

      And has fully repaid them with interest and all.

      Well ultra leftists are liars indulged in deception and falsehood. They are pure camel manure. Yevka go back to your tenth in Allenby square and be ashamed of yourself.

        JamesGarbarzewich says:

        And do not forget that Shamir helped bringing those one million Russian Jews, and persuaded George Walker Bush to approve those loan guarantees.

      Actually, let’s be even more blunt. These weren’t just Russian Jews, they were Jews who were trying to flee the Soviet dictatorship and faced servere persecution for their beliefs.

      The prophets Daniel and Ezekiel have written the final chapters. In GOD’S time, the Bear from the north, aided by Islamic and Europeans, will attempt the final solution. And God will interveine Himself. Not the UN, not Britian, not the Untied States, but the Almight Himself. He will defeat the forces of the evil one Himself, and he will establish the throne of David forever.

    The video is disgusting and entirely inappropriate in the context of an
    obituary. Whatever you think of Yitzhak Shamir, settlers or anything
    else – and you are entitled to your thoughts and opinions, but posting
    this in the context of Yitzhak Shamir obituary shows you as tasteless
    ghoulish troll.

While I respect Daniel Gordis’ desire to express his admiration for Shamir’s patriotism, especially the enormous sacrifices made by many in his generation who saw and experienced firsthand the kind of horrors a younger generation like ours cannot imagine, Shamir was nevertheless an intransigent supporter of Settler Policy that, arguably, has undermined Israel’s ability to thrive as a democracy. Further, certain forecasts that Gordis attributes to Shamir–the implication that he foresaw the “inevitable” result of the recent elections in Egypt–seems like historic hindsight, not real political analysis. While Shamir opposed the peace treaty with Sadat, didn’t it bring Israel peace? And, though the Arab Spring has wrought troubling results in some places, democracy is still a good thing, right? Third, Gordis would have done better to express more ambivalence for what I think was a cold-blooded calculation on Shamir’s part, particularly with his assassination policy. Finally, I am troubled by the ways in which he rehearses the old rules about the Middle East having its own set of rules. There are others who went on aliyah long before Gordis and more recently who believe in their hearts and deeds that those old rules can and must be changed–that decent people from all sides want peace. It may be considered an unrealistic position by some measures but the work they are doing to make peace possible is every bit as visionary, hopeful or forward thinking than what Shamir was given credit for by Gordis.

    Elliott Vizel says:

    Re: the Arab “Spring” – Is democracy a good thing? To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it is actually the worst form of government – with the exception of all the others!! It is all well and good to have the childlike ideals of “Peace, Love and Understanding”, but when you live in a tough neighborhood, you can’t afford to underestimate your neighbors. Shamir knew that better than most, and this is one of the main reasons that Israel is still in existence today, standing as a bulwark for the Jewish people. Just look at the UN, the so-called arena for peaceful diplomatic negotiation – and a lunatic like Richard Falk running the UNHRC show in the region, whose report is so blatantly anti-Israel – this is the same guy who thinks George Bush was behind the 9/11 attack, and who though Khomeini was a great guy when he first met him!! The UN Human Rights Commission is a joke, and even Russia, Cyprus, Norway (Norway!! That bastion of anti-semitism!!) and the USA called him out on the report.

    So yes, let’s negotiate for peace, but from a position of strength, not weakness!!

      Sure, Churchill was funny but he was also elected. Would Israelis rather be ruled by a dictator or a king? Why should Arabs have it any different? It’s not childlike to work for peace. Rabin was no child and he was murdered for it by a Jew. I think the brutal rules of the Middle East are not the exclusive right of Arabs.

    JamesGarbarzewich says:

    Andy who are the “visionary ” individuals working towards peace? Or are they just a fixture of your imagination? Name just a few Moslem leaders that want peace, industry, education, freedom , and are working hard to achieve it. We only hear of Moslem atrocities and terrorism and backwardness. Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan. Islamist hatred by Iran, Turkey, and now Egypt. Hamas Gaza Hizbullah Lebanon . These are not the voices of peace, these are the voices of hatred, violence, armed conflict and killings and killings.

    Shamir was right and do not deny it. Islamists do not want peace. You are delusional, or naive. Thus far he voices of menchkait

      JamesGarbarzewich says:

      Thus far the voices of menchkait are mute in the Islamic world. And remember a mensch is a human being. Only the savages are in control in the Islamic world.

      I think Fayad has done a good job, in partnership with Israelis and Americans, in building the beginnings of stable Palestinian economy in the West Bank. It will take at least a generation but it’s a start. By visionaries, I mean the brave individuals in Jewish Israel who face death threats for reporting on land theft and human rights abuses, two shameful actions that would have disturbed the same Zionist founders who battled Shamir in the 40s.

gemel says:

Here is another portrait – rememberance of Shamir:

Statesmanship means second-guessing history, and Israel swings forever, it seems, between polar opposites, between history and the present no less than between how to resolve our immediate Israel Palestinian conflict and how to live safely within the larger, eternal Israel/Arab conflict. Suddenly, with Egypt’s new swing on the historical pendulum and the possibility that it might no longer recognize Israel’s peace process, Israel is confronted again by its past decisions, by the question of land for peace. Should we, in fact, have given back the Sinai for our peace treaty with Egypt? If we hadn’t, would our southern border have been more secure today? Secure in size? In a buffer zone that would have been so much larger than the entire current map of Israel? A buffer zone that we could have built up as we have the rest of Israel, that might, by virtue of its size alone, have secured our future. Were we wrong? Does might, in fact, make right? No one questions the viability, the right to exist, of large, physically secure countries.

michael perks says:

History, world history, has shown since records began that peace is the rarity.
Yes! Sadly the sword will always devour.

David Cherson says:

Daniel Gordis, like others, errs in calling Shamir the leader of the (so-called) Stern Gang, the LEHI. He was not. Following the assasination (that’s what it was) of Avraham Stern, it was Natan Yellin-Mor who assumed the leadership of LEHI. In the late 1970’s, while living in Israel myself, I had the opportunity to interview Yellin-Mor.

The politics of LEHI could best be described as confused, as they swung from right to left. Yellin-Mor emphasized to me that LEHI saw itself as an anti-imperialist liberation organization, not unlike the future FLN in Algeria. In the 1950’s Yellin-Mor, Uri Avnery, and others attempted to form what was called the Semitic Union, and this was to be a broad based coalition of Arabs and Jews. Unfortunately Israel’s close relationship with (pre-Degalle) France precluded any chance of this being a success.

Apart from his underground activities Shamir’s exemplary service to the state was in his service in Mossad. In fact he was a key underground operative in France and helped obtain uranium for the development of the atomic reactor in Dimona. After that I would not cite Shamir for anything exemplary outside of getting to where he got to in politics.

Daniel Gordis repeats the oft and tired excuse of the ‘rough neighborhood’ that the Middle East is as some sort of justification for Shamir’s intransigence. If we only held on to Sinai we wouldn’t have to worry as much over Mohammed Morsi, etc. That is an extremely flawed argment. You might ask if Israel hadn’t placed all of it’s faith in dictators in the Middle East (in order to keep the status quo) where the relationship between israel and the Arabs would or could be now. In Gordis’s (and others) thinking, the rights of 80 million Eygptians, and millions of other Arabs don’t amount to a hill of beans as long as Israel’s security is “guaranteed”.

I don’t kid myself about who the Arabs were and are, and where they stand in view of the Jewish state. if things had been any different in 1948 there wouldn’t been a Jew left standing.

But politicians like Shamir and Israeli society at large do not serve Israel when they constantly see themselves apart from the area instead of being integrated into it. The ball is not always in the court of our adversaries in this respect.

    Shamir was requested by Yair to break out of Mezra Detention Camp in late 1941, at the same time that Friedman-Yellin-Mor aka Gera was sent out on a mission and arrested and this to replace him. From mid-1942 or so, Lechi was led by a three-man Central Committee: Gera, Eldad and Shamir and all were arrested at various times. Since I knew all three, read all they wrote, heard them lecture, I think I can say that (a) Gera in the 1970s was spinning anachronistic history. He himself became socialist if not semi-communist during 1947 or perhaps in 1939-41 while in Vilna. (b) the best story is when Eldad & I came to Gera’s funeral. We stood on one side with the Lechi nationalists and on the other side, in addition to the Lechi socialists were Uri Avnery, Meri Pail and others. Pail came over and said to Eldad ‘we were wondering if you’d show up’ (Eldad was in a bitter feud with Gera for supporting the FLN in the 1950s and the PLO too. Eldad replied ‘by me, he died years ago. today I came to bury him’.

    NormanF says:

    I don’t see the Arabs as a civilization. That presumes they have one. They murder each other when there are no Jews or Christians around for them to murder. They hate the Jews because the Jews succeeded where they have failed. No – Israel can never drop the sword and there will never be peace with the Arabs. Who was right – Shamir or Peres? I think history has rendered its judgment.The Middle East is the kind of region that is full of crazed fanatics and cannibals. To stay alive there requires dropping all illusions. Israel must separate itself as far as possible from the Arabs. No union with them is possible.

Yes, Shamir is right.
“Ours is not the world that Shamir and his generation inherited. Ours is a world in which the Jews are secure, and largely safe, in no small measure as a result of what those men and women did.”
Jews are secure and largely safe in Israel? Are you kidding me? Do you not know your enemy?

    NormanF says:

    Jews are secure in Israel only because Israelis have come to realize Shamir was right all along. This is not guaranteed. If the Arabs are weakened today to the point they can’t harm Israel, Iran remains the #1 threat. It has the aim of wiping Israel off the map. Israel cannot in equanimity wait to find out if the mullahs are bluffing. There will be a war in the future. Our world is now in the calm before the storm.

PhillipNagle says:

The mantra of the left, “if Israel will only make one more consession”, has been totally discredited. The Moslem Brotherhood, remeber that thing about making Jerusalem their capital, rules Egypt. Hamas won the last Paletine Authority election and now lobs missles at Israeli towns from Gaza. Peace is a mirage. Besides Begin and Shamir saved Israel from the socialists who ruled from independence and were trying to turn Israel into a third world country, complete with corruption. The end of socialism brought properity to Israel, a sin that the left will never forgive.

gwhepner says:


“Will forever swords devour?”
Abner asked, and Joab blew
a trumpet, turning what was sour
to sweet, so no man slew
his fellow any more for just
a while, but until swords
are turned to plowshares who can trust
so-called peace accords?
The death of Abner proves we can’t.
Joab killed him and,
despite King David’s final rant,
no peace came to the land.

“Will forever swords

Abner asked, and Joab

a trumpet, turning what
was sour

to sweet, so no man

his fellow any more for

a while, but until

are turned to
plowshares who can trust

so-called peace accords?

The death of Abner
proves we can’t.

Joab killed him and,

despite King David’s
final rant,

no peace came to the

I fear that many people view peace as humanity’s default position. However, the ancient Greeks as well as Samuel knew that only the dead have seen the end of war

There is no room in the world of Shamir and his cohort for God–a dangerous thing in a state founded on a religious premise. Try this exercise: take a hard-boiled, “realistic” comment by an Israeli like that of Shamir’s son about how “the sword must devour forever,” and imagine it in the mouth of a German.

A related thought: why did Shamir wear that particular style of moustache?

Daniel, we must not abase ourselves so far as to honor this chilul Hashem–this desecration of the holy name.

    NormanF says:

    The sword will devour forever. I do not see any alternative. There is no one in Israel who thinks Yair Shamir is wrong. No one has presented any evidence to refute him. Israel will face conflict for centuries to come. But the Jewish people have survived far worse in their entire history and the next century, even though I will not be alive to witness it, will be the Jewish Century.

DIR YASSIN was no massacre – but part of the battle to lift the siege of Jerusalem – I was there !

NormanF says:

Do I think he was right? His critics refuse to acknowledge their way led Israel to disaster and resulted in the assassination of a Prime Minister. They are the ones who to this very day do not accept the price Israel paid was far too high. Had Yitzhak Shamir been re-elected in 1992, the country would have been stronger and far better off than it is today. The thousands of Jewish lives lost since he left office is a reflection on the faulty judgment of his political adversaries, not on Shamir’s policies.

History will vindicate him.

Well said, Batya, for your comment on Israel’s Grittiest Founder. The world doesn’t understand what it’s like to be constantly trying to keep the balance steady. Close your eyes and one side – act – opinion – or the other pulls us right down.

Shalom & Erev tov…Reb Shamir was not mistaken…kol tuv uv’racha…
STEPHAN BOROWSKI PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim benAvraham

Alex Shapiro says:

Should the swords devour forever? Perhaps it’s not true if we consider
the French and the Germans or even Catholics and Protestants in the
Northern Ireland. But between Jews and Arabs? I tend to believe that
peace and even close cooperation between Jews and Christian Arabs is
quite possible, as the case of the Christians in South Lebanon shows.
But the peace between the Jewish nation and the Moslems – not only with
Arabs, but also with Malaysians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Indonesians?
Highly unlikely. Unfortunately, not too many people know about the real
reason for that, and those who know often prefer not to think about it,
but they should. And the reason is clearly written in the Hadith, the
second holy book of Islam, after the Quran. The portion Sahih Bukhari 004.52.176 says: “The Day of Resurrection will not arrive until the Moslems make war against the Jews and kill them, and until a Jew hiding behind a rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: ‘Oh Moslem, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
So what
is the difference between the extreme Islam, like Chamas, Hizbollah and
the Iranians and so-called ‘moderate Muslims.’ The extreme Islamists
believe that such time has come, while ‘moderate Muslims’ believe that
it will happen in the future, probably even not in their life time,
although the ‘fatwa’ – the instruction for that could be issued at any

So how can we talk about peace, that the swords not devour forever in
such a case? Shamir was realist, as he was aware of the situation. May
he rest in peace!

Moises Bassan says:

I disagree with most of the comments here. It is a fundamental belief in Judaism that “the sword” will not “devour forever”.

Yes, it is true that there is virtually no hope that Palestinians, or Muslims around the world will ever accede to peace with Israel. But as Jews, we must realize that we are in this situation for a reason – and that our main struggle is inside with ourselves as individuals to be better people, not with the Muslims. Are we truly satisfied with our connection to G-d, or the way we are treating our family, neighbors or people we work with?

You might think that stories of G-d and the Messiah are fairy tails, but for a people that returned to our land after 2,000 years – a people that the whole world is focused on without any logical reason – is it really so hard to believe?

There is a lot to do instead of sitting in despair, and our political situation has nothing to do with it.

Moises Bassan says:

I disagree with most of the comments here. It is a fundamental belief in Judaism that “the sword” will not “devour forever”.

Yes, it is true that there is virtually no hope that Palestinians, or Muslims around the world will ever accede to peace with Israel. But as Jews, we must realize that we are in this situation for a reason – and that our main struggle is inside with ourselves as individuals to be better people, not with the Muslims. Are we truly satisfied with our connection to G-d, or the way we are treating our family, neighbors or people we work with?

You might think that stories of G-d and the Messiah are fairy tails, but for a people that returned to our land after 2,000 years – a people that the whole world is focused on without any logical reason – is it really so hard to believe?

There is a lot to do instead of sitting in despair, and our political situation has nothing to do with it.

With the passion surrounding Shamir, whom all would have to agree was a polarizing figure, it is sometimes difficult to make an objective assessment.

Since nobody has mentioned it, I’ll bring it up. It was under PM Shamir that Israel experienced serious hyperinflation. And it was under his political opponent Shimon Peres that the hyperinflation was stopped. Had it not been stopped, there would have been no aliyah from Ethiopia, no aliyah from the former Soviet Union, and massive yeridah from a bankrupt poverty-stricken third world country. Israel is prosperous today in spite of Shamir, not because of him.


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Israel’s Grittiest Founder

Yitzhak Shamir, who died Saturday, was maligned for his politics. But his bitter realism was prescient.