02 July '12..
After Yitzhak Shamir was voted out of office, the nightmare of the Oslo Accords and the so-called peace process began. Israel experienced the Oslo Accords, the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the destruction of the Jewish settlement enterprise in the Gaza Strip's Gush Katif, the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. For Israel's self-appointed Old Guard, which lost power in the 1977 elections, the ouster of the last remaining stalwart of the Land of Israel in the generation of giants that founded the state, created the impression, for a historical split second, that they had been granted a window of opportunity to realize their foreign policy aspirations, which entailed the destruction of the Jewish settlement enterprise in what has historically been the Land of Israel.
Yitzhak Shamir should be remembered as one of the land's greatest advocates; he truly believed in the miracle manifested in the renaissance of the Jewish people in their land; he was a Zionist who subscribed to maximalist aspirations. Yossi Ben-Aharon, his bureau chief, once told me that at the end of a long meeting, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker said his anti-settlement stance pales in comparison to U.S. President George Bush's position. Shamir listened to his guest and said, "This is my land." Period. That's it.
A shocked Baker stared at him with bewilderment and moved on to the next topic.
Even today, twenty years after the Oslo vanity fair exploded in our faces, Sunday's obituaries talked about how Shamir is responsible for Israel's missed opportunity in the short-lived 1987 London Agreement, formulated by then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Jordan's King Hussein. That the public keeps being fooled into believing these tales, which have never gained any currency beyond Peres and his followers, is uncanny. Shamir, like the professional peacemongers who established here an industry that is consciously dismantling our state, understood that the battle is over hearts and minds; that is why he was careful to say "this is my land" and not that of another nation's.
This supposedly unsophisticated approach would not curry favor with the peaceniks, who seem to understand everyone but their own people. But this simple approach was great in scope and was key to surviving and reaching a true peace. An Israeli leader needs to tell the truth to everyone around him: this land is our land. Palestine was the name the Romans coined in the second century C.E. as a means of severing the ties between Judea (the name of the Jewish province at the time) and the Jews. That is why they used a name that is derived from the Philistines, the sea people who disappeared centuries earlier — because they hoped no one would remember who the real owners of this land were. Yitzhak Shamir stood at this historical junction to remind us what the basis of Zionism is: the Jewish people's return to their home. This is the practical implication of the Iron Wall concept promoted by Revisionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky.
The cruel irony is that the right-wing parties toppled Shamir's government, after which they splintered into smaller parties, which cost them many votes. The man with nerves of steel was ousted by those whose did not share this trait. Amazingly, such people can still be found. After Shamir left the scene, the Oslo bus bombings arrived. This led pro-settler groups to adopt Shamir's credo and establish what came to be known as the Zo Artzeinu ("this is our land") movement. This should serve as a crucial and all-important lesson for all of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's detractors among the conservative camp.
People recall Shamir's restraint during the 1991 Gulf War, but this policy was a result of a cold analysis of the situation. Shamir, who was one of the commanders of the Lehi (a Jewish underground militia) was never gun-shy so long as it was necessary, but he always viewed his fighting within the greater national context, not as a means of gaining prestige or winning points among the masses. This equation also applied to the kid-glove treatment he would have been afforded by the peace industry and its operators had they successfully seduced him into their delusional "peacemaking."
Settlement and aliya were the two pillars of Zionism, like Boaz and Jachin, the pillars that adorned Solomon's Temple. Shamir never turned his back on aliya. He is credited with having the U.S. rebuff the Soviet Jews who wanted to immigrate there, telling his American counterparts that "since 1948 [when Israel was established] there have not been any stateless Jews." Consequently, Israel saw a massive influx of Jewish immigrants in the 1990s.
This policy was also derived from the clear realization that "this is our land." That this is the only home for the world's Jews and that Diaspora existence should not be a norm. We should tout this fact today, because Israeli officials around the world keep quiet about it lest they spark the Diaspora Jews' ire. As Yitzhak Shamir is laid to rest, we should reiterate his call to world Jewry: Make aliya. Or simply put, come home.
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