Icchak Jaziernicki – Yitzhak Shamir

English: Yitzhak Shamir's signature

English: Yitzhak Shamir’s signature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yitzhak Shamir יצחק שמיר‎, born Icchak Jaziernicki; October 22, 1915 – June 30, 2012, was an Israeli politician and the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92. Before independence, he was a member of the Irgun, a breakaway from the Haganah. After the death of Avraham Stern, Shamir became the commander of the Lehi, a group that was considered a terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council. He also served in the Mossad from 1955-65.

Icchak Jeziernicky (later Yitzhak Shamir) was born in Ruzhany (Yiddish: Rozhinoy), Russian Empire (now Belarus), the son of Perla and Shlomo, who owned a leather factory. He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement. He studied at the law faculty of Warsaw University, but cut his studies short to immigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine.

In 1935, he settled in Palestine. His parents and two sisters were murdered in the Holocaust. He later adopted as his surname the name he used on a forged underground identity card, Shamir. He told his wife this was because Shamir means a thorn that stabs and a rock that can cut steel. In 1944 he married Shulamit Shamir, whom he met in a detention camp, and she migrated to Mandate Palestine from Bulgaria by boat in 1941 and was sent to prison because she entered the territory illegally. They had two children, Yair and Gilada. Shulamit died on July 29, 2011.

Shamir joined the Irgun Zvai Leumi, a Zionist paramilitary group that opposed British control of Palestine. When the Irgun split in 1940, Shamir joined the more militant faction Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang, headed by Avraham Stern. In 1941 Shamir was imprisoned by British authorities. A few months after Stern was killed by the British in 1942, Shamir and another prisoner hid under a stack of mattresses in a warehouse of the detention camp and at night they escaped through the barbed wire fences of the camp. Shamir took charge of reorganising the movement into cells and training its members. In 1943, he became one of the three leaders of the group, serving with Nathan Yellin-Mor and Israel Eldad. Shamir sought to emulate the anti-British struggle of the Irish Republicans and took the nickname „Michael“ for Irish Republican leader Michael Collins. In the summer of 1946 he was caught, exiled and interned in Africa by British Mandatory authorities. In January 1947 he and four Irgun members escaped through a 200-foot tunnel they had dug. Shamir and some of the others hid in an oil truck for three days as it was driven over the border to French Somalia. They were arrested by the French but he was eventually allowed passage to France and granted political asylum. His underground sent him a forged passport, with which he returned to Israel after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.

During the war, most of Lehi’s members served in the army but the Lehi group in Jerusalem distanced itself from government control. Shamir, Eldad and Yellin-Mor authorised the assassination of the United Nations representative in the Middle East, Count Folke Bernadotte during a truce. Lehi feared that Israel would agree to Bernadotte’s peace proposals, which they considered dangerous, unaware that the provisional Israeli government had already rejected a proposal by Bernadotte the day before. The Israeli provisional government reacted by forcibly disbanding Lehi.

Israeli intelligence career

Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang members: Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), Yitzhak Yezernitzky (Shamir), and Natan Friedman-Yelin

English: Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Isra...

English: Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel is greeted by officials at Andrews Air Force Base as he and his entourage arrive for a state visit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the first years of Israel’s independence, Shamir managed several commercial enterprises. In 1955, he joined the Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence service, serving until 1965. During his Mossad career, he directed the assassinations of former Third Reich rocket scientists working on the Egyptian missile programme, known as Operation Damocles.

He ran a unit that placed agents in hostile countries, created the Mossad’s division for planning and served on its General Staff.

Political career

In 1969, Shamir joined the Herut party headed by Menachem Begin and was first elected to the Knesset in 1973 as a member of the Likud. He became Speaker of the Knesset in 1977, and foreign minister in 1980, before succeeding Begin as prime minister in 1983 when the latter retired.

Prime Minister

Shamir with Caspar Weinberger

Shamir had a reputation as a Likud hard-liner. In 1977 he presided at the Knesset visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. He abstained in the Knesset votes to approve the Camp David Accords and the Peace Treaty with Egypt. In 1981 and 1982, as Foreign Minister, he guided negotiations with Egypt to normalize relations after the treaty. Following the 1982 Lebanon War he directed negotiations which led to the May 17, 1983 Agreement with Lebanon, which did not materialize.

His failure to stabilize Israel’s inflationary economy and to suggest a solution to the quagmire of Lebanon led to an indecisive election in 1984, after which a national unity government was formed between his Likud party and the Alignment led by Shimon Peres. As part of the agreement, Peres held the post of Prime Minister until September 1986, when Shamir took over.

As he prepared to reclaim the office of prime minister, which he had held previously from October 1983 to September 1984, Shamir’s hard-line image appeared to moderate. However Shamir remained reluctant to change the status quo in Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors, and blocked Peres’s initiative to promote a regional peace conference as agreed in 1987 with King Hussein of Jordan in what has become known as the London Agreement. Re-elected in 1988, Shamir and Peres formed a new coalition government until „the dirty trick“ of 1990, when the Alignment left the government, leaving Shamir with a narrow right-wing coalition.

During the Gulf War, Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israel, many of which struck population centers. Iraq hoped to provoke Israeli retaliation and thus alienate Arab members of the United States-assembled coalition against Iraq. Shamir deployed Israeli Air Force jets to patrol the northern airspace with Iraq, but recalled the jets and decided not to retaliate after the United States urged restraint, claiming that Israeli attacks would jeopardize the delicate Arab-Western coalition.

During his term, Shamir reestablished diplomatic relations between Israel and several dozen African, Asian and other countries. He continued his efforts, begun in the late 1960s, to bring Soviet Jewish refugees to Israel. In May 1991, as the Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was collapsing, Shamir ordered the airlifting of fourteen thousand Ethiopian Jews, known as Operation Solomon. Shamir was dedicated to bringing Jews from all over the world to Israel and said he expected even American Jewish youth to realize that „man does not live by bread alone“ but to „learn and understand Jewish histry, the Bible….and reach the only conclusion: to come on aliya to Israel.“ [14]

Relations with the US were strained in the period after the war over the Madrid peace talks, which Shamir opposed. As a result, US President George H.W. Bush was reluctant to approve loan guarantees to help absorb immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Finally, Shamir gave in and in October 1991 participated in the Madrid talks. His narrow, right-wing government collapsed as a result over the participation of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and new elections were called.

Electoral defeat and retirement

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir

Shamir was defeated by Yitzhak Rabin’s Labour in the 1992 election. He stepped down from the Likud leadership in March 1993, but remained a member of the Knesset until the 1996 election. For some time, Shamir was a critic of his Likud successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, as being too indecisive in dealing with the Arabs. Shamir went so far as to resign from the Likud in 1998 and endorse the right-wing splinter movement led by Benny Begin, Herut – The National Movement, that later joined the National Union during the 1999 election. After Netanyahu was defeated, Shamir returned to the Likud fold and supported Ariel Sharon in the 2001 election. Subsequently, in his late eighties, Shamir ceased making public comments.

In 2004, Shamir’s health declined, with the progression of his Alzheimer’s Disease and he was moved to a nursing home. The government turned down a request by the family to finance his stay at the facility.

Shamir died on June 30, 2012, at a nursing home in Tel-Aviv where he had spent the last few years as a result of the Alzheimer’s disease he had suffered since the mid-1990s. He will be given a state funeral, which will take place on July 2 at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, and he will be buried beside his wife, Shulamit, who died the previous year.


Israeli President Shimon Peres said that „Yitzhak Shamir was a brave warrior for Israel, before and after its inception. He was a great patriot and his enormous contribution will be forever etched in our chronicles. He was loyal to his beliefs and he served his country with the utmost dedication for decades. May he rest in peace.“ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement upon hearing of his death that read: „[Shamir] led Israel with a deep loyalty to the nation. [The Prime Minister] expresses his deep pain over the announcement of the departure of Yitzhak Shamir. He was part of a marvelous generation which created the state of Israel and struggled for the Jewish people.“ This was despite previous feuds between the two once-Likud members.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman added that Shamir „contributed greatly to the foundation of the state, which he served his entire life with loyalty and unwavering dedication. He set an example in each position that he held. I had the privilege to be personally acquainted with Shamir, and I will always remember him and his great contribution to the state;“ while Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: „His whole life, Shamir was as stable as granite and maintained focus without compromises. He always strived to ensure Israel’s freedom. His devotion knew no bounds [and he] always sought what’s right for the people of Israel and for the country’s security.“

Leader of the Opposition and Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich offered her condolences to Shamir’s family saying that „he was a determined prime minister who dedicated his life to the state. He followed his ideological path honestly and humbly, as a leader should. The citizens of Israel will always remember the wisdom he demonstrated during the First Gulf War. He showed restraint and saved Israel from undue entanglement in the Iraq War. This decision proved to be a brave and wise act of leadership.“

His daughter, Gilada Diamant, finally said of her father „belonged to a different generation of leaders, people with values and beliefs. I hope that we have more people like him in the future. His political doing has undoubtedly left its mark on the State of Israel. Dad was an amazing man, a family man in the fullest sense of the word, a man who dedicated himself to the State of Israel but never forgot his family, not even for a moment. He was a special man.“

Awards and recognition

In 2001, Shamir received the Israel Prize, for his lifetime achievements and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

In 2005, he was voted the 29th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Published works

He wrote Sikumo shel davar, a book which was published in English by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, as Summing Up: an autobiography (1994).

See also


  1. ^ http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=175
  2. ^ http://books.google.ca/books?id=Ybp2xI8NXPUC&q=perla+Shlomo+shamir&dq=perla+Shlomo+shamir&hl=en&redir_esc=y
  3. ^ Zev Golan, Stern: The Man and His Gang, p. 143.
  4. ^ http://heritagefl.com/2011/08/15/the-eulogizer-shamir-abutbul-sundlun-pearle/
  5. ^ http://www.jewishpost.com/archives/news/yitzhak-shamir-celebrated-his-85th-birthday.html
  6. ^ http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/146231
  7. ^ John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, at 102 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2007).
  8. ^ „Stern Gang“ A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press [1].
  9. ^ Nechemia Ben-Tor, The Lehi Lexicon, p. 61, in Hebrew, and Zev Golan, Stern: The Man and His Gang, p. 94.
  10. ^ Colin Shindler, The Land Beyond Promise:Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream, I.B.Tauris, 2001 p. 177, see also Joseph O’Neill, „Blood-Dark Track: A Family History“, Harper Perennial 2009, p. 216.
  11. ^ Shlomo Okun, ed., The Kenyan Exiles, in Hebrew, p. XXI-XXIV, Golan, Stern: The Man and His Gang, pp. 122, 144-145, and David Shomron, We Saw Him As the Head of Lehi, in Hebrew, in Ahimeir, Itzhak Shamir: As Solid As a Rock, Yediot Aharonot and the Jabotinsky Institute, 2008, p. 103.
  12. ^ Melman, Yossi (March 24, 2004). „Targeted killings: A retro fashion very much in vogue“. Haaretz.
  13. ^ Zev Golan, Stern: The Man and His Gang, p. 147.
  14. ^ Golan, Stern: The Man and His Gang, pp. 219, 223.
  15. ^ http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2995233,00.html
  16. ^ „Israeli media says former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has died at the age of 96“. The Washington Post. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  17. ^ Somfalvi, Attila (30 June 2012). „Former PM Yitzhak Shamir dies at 96“. Ynetnews. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  18. ^ a b c d http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4249308,00.html
  19. ^ a b c http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/06/2012630182037576207.html
  20. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/world/middleeast/yitzhak-shamir-former-prime-minister-of-israel-dies-at-96.html?pagewanted=all
  21. ^ Shamir, Eban, Ben-Porat Garner Israel Prize The Jewish Week, May 2001
  22. ^ „Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew) – Recipient’s C.V.“.
  23. ^ „Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew) – Judges‘ Rationale for Grant to Recipient“.
  24. ^ גיא בניוביץ‘ (June 20, 1995). „הישראלי מספר 1: יצחק רבין – תרבות ובידור“ (in Hebrew). Ynet. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  25. ^ 1994 ISBN 0-297-81337-4

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Yitzhak Shamir
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Yitzhak Shamir
Party political offices
Preceded by
Menachem Begin
Leader of the Likud Party
Succeeded by
Benjamin Netanyahu







Jitzchak Schamir (hebräisch ‏יצחק שמיר‎‎; * 15. Oktober 1915 in Ruschany, Gouvernement Grodno, Russisches Kaiserreich, heute Woblast Brest, Weißrussland, gebürtig Icchak Jaziernicki; † 30. Juni 2012 in Tel Aviv[1][2]) war ein israelischer Politiker, Ministerpräsident und Außenminister seines Landes.

Schamir wuchs in Polen auf. Bereits als Jugendlicher trat er unter dem Eindruck der Judenverfolgung in Osteuropa der zionistischen Betar-Organisation bei. Sein später in Warschau begonnenes Jurastudium brach er ab und wanderte 1935 nach Palästina aus. Er wurde Mitglied von Irgun, einer der jüdischen militärischen Untergrundorganisationen in Palästina. 1940 spaltete sich unter Avraham Stern von Irgun eine radikale Splittergruppe namens Lechi ab, um den Kampf gegen die britische Mandatsmacht fortzusetzen, da Irgun mit den Briten Waffenstillstand geschlossen hatte. Schamir schloss sich Lechi an, wurde 1941 von den Briten inhaftiert und entkam 1942 nach Sterns Tod aus einem Internierungslager. 1943 wurde er einer der drei Anführer der neuformierten Lechi. Diese verübte in den folgenden Jahren unter anderem die Attentate auf den britischen Nahost-Minister Lord Moyne und den UN-Nahost-Vermittler Folke Bernadotte.

1944 lernte er seine spätere Frau Schulamit in einem Internierungscamp der Briten kennen, die dort festsaß, da sie illegal nach Palästina eingereist war. Mit ihr hatte er zwei Kinder. Sie starb am 29. Juli 2011.

Nach der israelischen Staatsgründung

Nach dem israelischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg war Schamir von 1955 bis 1965 Mitglied des Auslandsgeheimdienstes Mossad. Er wurde 1973 erstmals in die Knesset gewählt und wurde 1977 ihr Präsident. Im Jahre 1980 wurde er Außenminister und 1983 Begins Nachfolger als Ministerpräsident.

Obwohl Schamir als Hardliner des Likud bekannt war, übernahm er den Vorsitz beim Besuch des ägyptischen Präsidenten Anwar as-Sadat im Jahre 1977 und bei den anschließenden Friedensgesprächen. In den Jahren 1981 und 1982 führte er die Verhandlungen mit Ägypten an, welche die Beziehungen nach dem Vertrag normalisieren sollten, und er leitete auch 1983 Verhandlungen, die zu einem Abkommen mit dem Libanon führten (welches jedoch niemals von der libanesischen Regierung ratifiziert wurde).


Weil er daran scheiterte, Israels inflationäre Wirtschaft zu stabilisieren, kam es 1984 außerplanmäßig zu Neuwahlen. Es wurde eine Koalition aus seinem Likud mit der von Schimon Peres geführten Awoda gebildet. Peres übernahm den Posten des israelischen Ministerpräsidenten für den ersten Teil der Amtsperiode und wurde im September 1986 von Schamir im Rahmen des Israelischen Modells abgelöst. 1987 begann die Erste Intifada (bewaffneter Kampf der Palästinenser gegen Israel), gegen die die Regierung Schamir mit harter Hand vorging.

Im Jahre 1988 wurde die große Koalition wiedergewählt, worauf Schamir und Peres eine neue Koalitionsregierung bildeten. Nach dem Austritt der Arbeitspartei 1990 stand Schamir einer Minderheitsregierung vor.

Im Jahre 1991 nahm die Regierung Schamir nach heftigem amerikanischen Drängen an den Friedensgesprächen von Madrid teil. Gleichzeitig ließ er zahlreiche jüdische Siedlungen im Westjordanland ausbauen oder neu errichten; unverwandte Mordvorwürfe von seiten arabischer Gipfelteilnehmer bezüglich seiner Untergrundaktivitäten und zunehmendes Misstrauen seitens der Amerikaner angesichts seiner starren Haltung schwächten seine Verhandlungsposition erheblich.

Im gleichen Jahr ermöglichte er die Umsiedlung tausender äthiopischer Juden, die Operation Solomon. Nachdem Israel während des Irakkriegs von einer Salve irakischer Scudraketen getroffen worden war, verzichtete die Regierung Schamir auf einen Gegenschlag, weil die USA die arabisch-westliche Kriegskoalition in Gefahr sahen. Obwohl Schamir lange als Hardliner galt, nahm die Zustimmung zu seiner Regierung auch in rechtskonservativen Kreisen ab, weil befürchtet wurde, sie sei den Palästinensern gegenüber zu konziliant. Nach der Abwahl des Likud im Jahre 1992 wurde Jitzchak Rabin (Arbeitspartei) sein Amtsnachfolger.

Rückzug aus der Politik

Schamir trat im März 1993 vom Vorsitz über den Likud zurück, nachdem er von seinem Nachfolger Benjamin Netanjahu für seine Unentschlossenheit in der palästinensischen Frage kritisiert worden war.

Im Jahr 2001 wurde Schamir der Israel-Preis verliehen. Er starb am 30. Juni 2012 nach längerer Krankheit (Alzheimer) in Tel Aviv.


 Commons: Jitzchak Schamir – Album mit Bildern und/oder Videos und Audiodateien


  1. Israels früherer Premier Jizchak Schamir ist tot. Abgerufen am 30. Juni 2012.
  2. Yitzhak Shamir, Former Israeli Prime Minister, Dies at 96. Abgerufen am 30. Juni 2012 (englisch).

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