1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2007
Yitzhak Shamir was possibly the last really strong Prime Minister of Israel,so far. His life was dedicated to love of the Land and People of Israel.
He writes of his childhood in the small Polish town of Rujenoy,where Zionism was a part of his upbringing and his raison d' etre since he was young. In 1929 ,fired up by Arab pogroms against Jews in 'Palestine', he joined the Betar Zionist Youth Movement,aged fourteen.
Inspired by Zionist leaders such as Vladimir Jabotinsky,of whom he writes with great admiration, he was also influenced in his spirit of resistance against British control over 'Palestine' and nation-building by Irish leader,Michael Collins.Shamir immigrated to the Land of Israel,then under British control, in 1935, where he has lived ever since.
He joined the Zionist liberation movement ,the Irgun Zvai Leumi and later the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel,becoming one of it's leaders. Shamir remembers the anti-Jewish pogroms by the Arabs of 1936-1939, euphimistically dubbed by the British as 'the Palestine disturbances'. Although these riots failed to frighten off the Jews, they did frighten the British who did their best to appease the Arabs by consistently reducing the number of Jews allowed to enter the 'Land of Israel'.
This became a great source of conflict between the Jews and 'Palestine's' British colonial masters.He discusses the motives for Arab terror , which have not changed in eight decades. The motive was always to prevent Jewish immigration to and settlement in the Land of Israel, and when the British were in charge of 'Palestine',the motive of Arab terror had nothing to do with the Arabs wanting to rule Israel instead of the British -as the Jews did. "The bloodshed was always directed against the Jews, and had no motive except destruction. In 1936,when the the Arabs turned on the British, it was only in relation to the Jews,to Jewish immigration,to doing away with the Jews.It was not to drive the British out of Palestine. Nor,when the British did leave and the State of Israel was created did Palestinian Arabs attempt to assume, or make use of,those areas of the country that were not part of the Jewish State-such as Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip-all inhabited exclusively by Arabs.Arab energy and money were invested instead in endless and fruitless bids to make life here unbearable for us."
This has not changed in eight decades. The Palestinian Arabs have no interest in developing their own societies,even in areas under their control, only the destruction of Israel and the mass murder and expulsion of her Jews.
The Palestinian Arab offensive is not an anti-colonial one, as leftwing propagandists have brainwashed so many to believe,but rather an anti-Jewish one.
Shamir writes of his participation in the underground struggle against the British,of his exile in Eritrea,of the War of Independence and the real facts behind the so-called massacre of Deir Yassin,his years in the Mossad,and his election to the Knesset in 1973, as a member of Menachem Begin's nationalist Herut Party.
He was a kingpin in the election of the Likud Party to office in Israel in 1977,and was Speaker of the Israeli Knesset from 1977 to 1980,that year being apointed Foreign Minister. Shamir reflects on the cold hostility of American President Jimmy Carter to Israel, and Shamir also evaluates various other international role players of the time.
Shamir reflects on the Sinai talks,and his opposition to the expulsion of Jewish communities from Yamit. As Arab rage is appeased with Jewish land , Shamir has correctly pointed out, Arab terror increases, with the support of world opinion,and Israel's future becomes more endangered.
Six weeks after the evacuation of Yamit, the 1982 Lebanon War broke out,as Israel was forced to respond to increased attacks by the PLO on northern Israel from Lebanon.
The reader can always feel Shamir's pain at the death and suffering caused to the Israeli people by Arab terror, mentioning attacks on schools and homes, the ambushing of buses,the murder and maiming of adults and children alike that has continued over the decades.
After Begins shock resignation in 1983 ,Shamir was thrust into the role of Prime Minister,as the situation for Israel and her people became more beleagured with the 'First Intifada' and the resulting worldwide hysterical prejudice against Israel followed by the shelling of Israeli population centers by Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War,cheered on by Palestinian Arabs,from the rooftops. Praiseworthy was his firm stand against talking to the murderous PLO,and his conviction of the indivisibility of the Land of Israel.
At the Madrid talks,Shamir proclaimed that the Jews were the only people who have lived in the Land of Israel,without interruption,for nearly 4000 years,the only people for whom Jerusalem has been a capital,the only people whose sacred places have only been in the Land of Israel..."For millenia our prayers ,literature and folklore have expressed powerful longings to return to our land.Only Eretz Yisrael,the Land of Israel is our true homeland.Any other country,no matter how hospitable, is still a diaspora,a temporary station on our way home".
At Madrid Shamir reflected on how the nature of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs is not territorial,but has raged long before Israel captured Judea,Samaria,Gaza and Golan in a defensive war. He reminded the world how Israel is a nation of 5 million , controlling only 28 000 kilometres, whereas the Arabs,numbering 170 million posses a land mass of 14 million square kilometres.
The issue is not territory but Israel's existance. Any Jew who strays into an Arab village risks losing his life,while hundreds of thousands of Arabs walk freely in every town and village in Israel.
He concludes the book by describing his defeat at the polls by Yitzhak Rabin and the Labour Party in 1992,and the Oslo process the following year in which Israel's government foolishly ressucitated the PLO,and mass murderer Yasser Arafat, allowing them to re-establish their terrorist networks in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, from where they was to continue their terror war against the Israeli people.Shamir predicted in these pages that the process would imperil Israel's existance and cost thousands of lives. His warnings against the dangers of this appeasement have turned out to be right,as the Palestinian leadership still sees territorial concession as just another step leading to the destruction of Israel and the genocide of her Jews.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2008
This is the autobiography of someone who started off as a Jewish Zionist zealot in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, moved to Palestine (then ruled by the British under post-WW1 League of Nations Mandate). The zealot then becomes a terrorist in a gang called Lehi; after taking part in the "War of Independence" (i.e. the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Jewish state to rid itself of most of the Arabs and steal their land), he joins the Israeli intelligence and assassination agency Mossad; at length he becomes a politician on the "extreme right" (whatever that means in a country like "Israel") and champion of the movement to create settlements on Arab lands; finally, Prime Minister.
In some ways this is an honest work: Shamir admits that even David Ben Gurion asked him "do you think you can create a state with pistols?". Well said...Shamir is arrested by the British, who were probably the best rulers Palestine ever had, at least since the days of Ancient Rome. He himself admits that after being arrested and charged, he is sentenced by a JEWISH judge who is part of the British-run judiciary (and who became a judge of the ISRAELI Supreme Court after 1948!); his jailers were Arab prison guards who treated Shamir, he says, not too badly. Later he was exiled to British-run Ethiopia, but escaped and went into hiding in Eritrea, the former Italian colony, then in French-run Djibouti.
Shamir does not shrink from admitting that he killed several people himself, usually in cold blood. By any normal standards this man is a terrorist and, really, a murderer, albeit an intelligent one. And he is a total fanatic, wishing Israel to consist of the (supposed) Biblical "Land of Israel" or "Eretz Israel", even though he concedes that, until 1948, there were virtually no Jews at all in historical Judea or Samaria in the many centuries prior to 1948. Indeed, he candidly admits that, in 1948, the Arabs in Palestine greatly outnumbered the Jews (most of which arrived after 1944). He glosses over the ethnic cleansing of 1948-50 which created what he have come to know as "Israel".
His time as an operator of Mossad (ten years mainly in the 1950's) is not detailed. It seems hard to imagine this small and facially-distinctive figure (a German friend of mine called him, as Prime Minister, a "Misgebot" (misbegotten)!) as a grey man operating in the shadows. He must surely have been an unusual sort of person to be any kind of "secret agent", but there it is. Perhaps his work was of the more "direct" kind, the kind he did while in Lehi?
As Prime Minister, he oversaw the extension of the settler movement, which attempted to seize whatever Arab lands were left within the borders of the Israeli state. He was not at one, at least publicly and, one suspects, to be fair, in reality, with the most extreme Arab-haters such as rabbi Kahane, who came (as so many of that kind do) not from Israel itself nor even Eastern Europe or North Africa, but from New York City. The "rabbi" met his deserved end in that dirty city and one gets the impression that Shamir was not so sorry. That would be unsurprising: after all, Jews like Kahane give Israel an even worse reputation. Most of Shamir's bile is reserved, interestingly, for Rabin, who, after the publication of this book in 1994, became Prime Minister of Israel, only to be assassinated by a zealot Jewish extremist. Very interesting...