Sunday, July 8, 2012

Caroline Glick Contrasts Yitzhak Shamir with Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir--who passed away last week--by saying that Shamir "was from the generation of giants that founded the State of Israel." Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick agrees with Netanyahu in principle but she insists that a larger point must be made about the particularity and rarity of Shamir's greatness:

But to do Shamir's memory the justice it deserves it is important not to obscure his personal greatness by bracketing him inside his generation. This is true for two reasons.

First, it was not inevitable that Shamir became a strong, dedicated, successful leader. Many in his generation were not...

The other reason it is wrong to view Shamir as a mere product of his times is because by doing so, we effectively say that there is no point in emulating him. If he only became the person he became because he lived through the times he lived through, then his story has nothing to teach us about what it means to lead, or to live a meaningful, good life in the service of a goal greater than ourselves. And this cannot be true.

Glick brackets those eloquent remarks with choice vignettes about two other men who occupied the Prime Minister's office (I refuse to say "served as Prime Minister" because the only thing these criminals served is their own greed and perceived self-interest). Here is her description of Shimon Peres (about whom Moshe Sharett correctly prophesied in 1957, "I will rend my clothes in mourning for the State if I see him become a minister in the Israeli government."):

During Shamir's tenure as prime minister in the unity government with then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and the Labor Party from 1986 to 1988, Peres sought to undermine his leadership and bring about his defeat in the 1988 elections by collaborating with foreign governments against him.

According to top secret documents from 1988 first disclosed by
Yediot Aharonot's Shimon Schiffer in June 2011, Peres collaborated with then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to destabilize Shamir's government. Peres also sought US assistance in subverting Shamir and fomenting his electoral defeat. Aside from that, in breach of both Israeli law and the expressed wishes of Shamir, Peres dispatched his emissary, then-Foreign Ministry director general Avraham Tamir, to Mozambique for secret meetings with Yasser Arafat.

Throughout his career, Peres, who is also a member of Shamir's generation, has distinguished himself as a politician who prefers his personal gain over that of his nation.

Glick does not state what should be obvious: Peres is the kind of "leader" that a proud country of sound mind and strong judiciary would hang for treason--but that is a subject for another article.

Glick also details the graft, criminality and incompetence of Ehud Olmert:

In a poetic coincidence of timing, as Netanyahu eulogized Shamir on Sunday morning, Netanyahu's immediate predecessor, Ehud Olmert, entered a courtroom in Tel Aviv for the start of his criminal trial related to the so-called Holyland Affair. Olmert is accused of taking bribes from the developers of the capital’s architectural monstrosity cynically named "Holyland," during his tenure as mayor of Jerusalem...

Unlike Shamir, Olmert is perfectly prepared to abandon the public interest to advance his personal comfort. During his tenure as premier, rather than stand up to US pressure for Israeli concessions of land and rights to the Palestinians, Olmert preemptively capitulated...

Olmert defends his behavior through a mixture of lies and self-justification. At The
Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on April 29, Olmert claimed that the Second Lebanon War was the greatest military victory in Israel's history. Apparently he thought we had forgotten about every other war Israel has fought. So, too, Olmert claims that he had no choice other than to submit to US pressure regarding the Palestinians.

Shamir's record is a standing rebuke of Olmert's excuses for his failures.

Glick acknowledges that Shamir twice caved in to pressure from the United States--first when he did not order Israeli retaliations in response to Iraq's Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War and soon after that when he agreed to attend the Madrid Peace Conference--but she opines that Shamir's concessions did not have long term negative consequences (I disagree somewhat because the precedent of Israel not responding to an attack was very risky, but I fully realize that Shamir may have felt that he had no other option given President George H.W. Bush's hostility toward Israel). Glick believes that those concessions by Shamir gave him the leverage to make the arrangement with the United States that resulted in one million Soviet Jewish emigrants moving to Israel instead of coming to the United States, a crucial influx of brain power and manpower that could yet save Israel (assuming that the Jewish State finds some miraculous way to avoid being annihilated by Iran). Glick makes a final, most important point: even though Shamir was often criticized for his stubbornness, powerful countries like China and India resumed their diplomatic relations with Israel during Shamir's tenure in office. Glick observes, "By standing up for his country, he earned the respect of the world--not just for himself, but for Israel as a whole. And in international affairs it is far more important to be respected than liked."

Glick concludes:

It is important to recognize that Shamir was the product not only of his times, but of his values and of the choices that he made throughout his extraordinary career. The greatest compliment one can pay another person is to say that he is a model to be emulated, and that his life should serve as an example for what a good life can and should be.

We were blessed to have had him as our leader. And his memory should be a blessing in the annals of Jewish history.

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