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But the community rallied around Shamir in December 1991 when President George H.W. Bush sought to tie a $10 billion U.S. loan guarantee to help resettle Jews flooding into Israel from the former Soviet Union to money Israel spent on settlements. Bush cast himself as “one lonely guy” facing “some powerful political forces” – a framing many Jews saw as borderline anti-Semitic.
Shamir’s successful absorption of hundreds of thousands of Jews from the collapsing Soviet Union, and his secret transport of thousands of Ethiopian Jews in Operation Solomon also restored respect and affection for him among American Jews.
Shamir was not incapable of pragmatism. He defied Israeli public opinion – and young bucks in his own party, including then-deputy foreign minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and acceded to Bush’s request to keep out of the first Iraq War, even if Saddam Hussein provoked Israel, which Hussein did with a barrage of Scud missiles.
Marshall Breger, a former Reagan administration official who at the time still functioned as an unofficial liaison between Bush and the Jewish community, said Shamir earned kudos with that decision. “From the U.S. perspective, that was very important and got a lot of good will because we could not have gotten the coalition that we got if Israel had acted in a proactive or reactive way,” he said.
Zakheim also recalled Shamir intervening when AIPAC tried to stop the sale of combat aircraft to Kuwait.
“He was extremely pragmatic and somebody who when the chips were down tended to make good decisions,” Zakheim said.
Shamir, notably, earned affectionate references in the memoirs of U.S. figures who were among his most frustrated interlocutors when they faced each other as leaders, among them the elder Bush, national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell, who under Bush was the chief of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Shamir was not a comfortable campaigner. In the 1992 elections he lost to Yitzhak Rabin, advisers told him to exude more warmth. Appearing at a late-in-the-game rally in Maaleh Adumim – a West Bank settlement and city, and what should have been a natural constituency – he stood at the podium, his diminutive figure nearly swallowed by the stage, threw open his arms and shouted “I love you!” The crowd murmured nervously.
Yet one on one, he exuded warmth and determination. Shamir would take walks around the prime minister’s residence, followed by a single security guard, and stop to chat with everyone, giving extra time to recent immigrants and congratulating them on their decision to move to Israel.
His mantra was land. After Oslo, still serving as a backbencher after Netanyahu had succeeded him as party leader, Shamir decried in a Knesset speech the ceding of the Gaza Strip, citing biblical injunctions about preserving the land of Israel. A Labor backbencher shouted that Gaza is not part of biblical Israel. Shamir shrugged. “We were taught that territory is sacrosanct,” he said.
Breger said Shamir understood what the other side wanted – but stuck to what he wanted.
“I had occasions to talk to him when he was rubbing up against Bush…and urged him to pay attention to how serious Bush was about building in the territories, which culminated in Bush’s effort to reduce the loan guarantees dollar by dollar for what was being spent in the territories,” Breger said. “You had the feeling that he didn’t reject what I said, but he had made up his mind and would go forward.”
That posture set a standard for Shamir’s successors, said Rosen. “He stood for a set of core principles that are still the bedrock of the right wing but I would argue have influenced the center, too,” he said. “Skepticism of the seriousness of the Arabs on permanent peace, a reliance on self-defense and not on agreements that rely on the will of others, skepticism of great power guarantees.”
Shamir the “hard-liner” paved the way for “hard bargainers,” Rosen said.
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The IDF has confirmed 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23 of Kfar Saba is the soldier suspected kidnapped by Hamas on Friday.
Netanyahu called Kerry onto the carpet and Kerry and Ban Ki-Moon gave their assurances.
Hamas has learned the art of kidnapping from Hezbollah. Israel neeeds to figure out quickly how to deal with that.
3:31pm IDF Spox notifications: Hamas terrorists killed two IDF soldiers during the suspected kidnapping of 2nd Lt. Goldin this morning. We suspect that a group of Hamas terrorists, including a suicide attacker, kidnapped 2nd. Lt. Goldin at 9:30AM & dragged him into a tunnel. If our suspicions about today’s events are accurate, Hamas took advantage […]
This time Hamas may have succeeded in kidnapping a soldier.
Report: Hamas took advantage of the cease fire to attack IDF soldiers…
The IDF has released names of the soldier killed on Thursday night.
12:30pm Be’er Sheva Region, Ofakim… x2 10:50am Sirens at Eshkol. 10:03am – – Cease fire broken by Hamas – – Hamas fires rocket at Eshkol region. All winners, please collect your bets. No injuries were reported in the rocket strike. 9:30am Hamas hasn’t fired any rockets at Israel yet since the 8:00am cease fire went […]
If Israel finds a terror tunnel during the cease fire, do the terms of the cease fire allow it to be blown up?
Curious as to how long Israel has been rocket free? This site will tell you…
Hamas wants the Arabs in Judea and Samaria to join in…
As the 8:00am deadline for the cease fire approaches, Hamas has shot a lot rockets into Israel to get their last licks: 7:32am 08-01-2014 Bnei Ayish / Gan Yavne 7:32am 08-01-2014 Bnei Ayish / Gan Yavne 7:32am 08-01-2014 Bnei Ayish / Gan Yavne, Givati 7:31am 08-01-2014 Ashdod, Bnei Ayish / Gan Yavne, Givati 7:31am 08-01-2014 […]
President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.
But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.
Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.
Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.
Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.
“As we have since the beginning of the process, we continue to support Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a secure and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman said in a statement to JTA.
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