The Legacy of Yitzhak Shamir

Michael Widlanski
The Algemeiner

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who died this week at age 96, was like his predecessor, David Ben-Gurion, in many ways. Both were men of short height but great stature. Both were motivated by a hot fervor to protect the Jewish people—a fervor tempered by a coldly uncanny analytical view of the world situation.

Yitzhak Shamir probably would have laughed loudly and derisively at the talk of “An Arab Spring,” because he saw the internal forces of Arab tribalism and authoritarianism as unchanging features of the landscape, like sands in the desert

“The sea is the sea, and the Arabs are the Arabs,” he would say.

Aside from Ben-Gurion, Shamir served longer as Israel’s prime minister than any other man or woman in Israel’s history—three terms totaling more than seven years, and it is clear that many Israelis trusted him because he was a straight talker without any burning personal ambitions…

…As a Mossad agent and earlier as a leader of the pre-1948 LEHI underground force, Shamir never shied away from putting his life on the line or taking the lives of those he saw threatening his people. But he was never bloodthirsty, nor did he ever brag about his deeds. Later, he was a rare politician who did not talk of himself.

He ordered Israeli commandos on a deep operation in Tunisia, where they liquidated Khalil al-Wazir, head of the PLO’s terror wing who had murdered scores of people. Al-Wazir was known to Arabs by his nickname “Abu-Jihad”—father of the holy war. The commandos did not harm his family, and Shamir never bragged about his part.

“I just heard about it on the radio,” he tersely told reporters who asked him about it.

Shamir made the tough decision to accept President George H.W. Bush’s request that Israel not strike back at Iraq in 1990 when Saddam launched missiles against Israel. Bush said Israeli action would split the US-led coalition.

It was a tough call for Shamir who did not accept Bush’s argument, but he felt Bush’s opposition would limit Israel’s operational effectiveness over Iraq. Later, Bush-41 repaid this Israeli sacrifice by not fulfilling a promise to help Israel with loan guarantees to build housing for new immigrants…

The complete article is at The Algemeiner.

Update: Yitzhak Shamir 1915- 1912 [videos]

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