For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Published in Culture Wars Magazine, September 2004

Culture Wars
“Death Watch” Department

 A Jew With a Program for Peace 

By Tom White

Israel Shamir is an Israeli writer who marches to the beat of a distinctly different drummer. He lives in Jaffa and pops up here and there around the world—Malaysia, Russia, England, Spain, but not—not that I know of—in the U.S. His emails, however, in English and sometimes French, span the globe, and they are intensely interesting to anyone, like myself, trying to make heads or tails of the present international scene.

Shamir was born in Novosibirsk in Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics. He is a descendant of a rabbi from Tiberias in Palestine. He read math and law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969 he immigrated to Israel and fought as a paratrooper in the 1973 war. I would guess he was then in his 20s and therefore is now in his 50s. There followed several years as a freelance journalist covering the last stages of the Southwest Asian war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

In 1975 he moved to London and joined the BBC. In the late 70s he lived in Tokyo and worked for the Israeli daily Maariv. He published his first book there, Travels with My Son. He returned to Israel in 1980, worked for Ha'aretz and other papers, was in the Knesset as spokesman for the Israeli socialist party, published a number of translations from English (for example, Joyce’s Ulysses), and from Hebrew, and advanced his own writings. His most popular work is The Pine and the Olive, the story of Israel and Palestine and their near-fatal embrace.

But Shamir’s life, though astonishing—as is his evident skill with many languages—is not so astonishing as his present intellectual position. A highly visible and, I should say quite distinguished Israeli writer, he has become a Christian and is a radical opponent of the entire Zionist enterprise. In the emails I mention he advances his views with zero regard for anybody’s notion of political correctness. To view his emails go to and to sign up for them send a blank email to  

His website is and 

(As I write a Shamir essay is featured on his home page, “The Stumbling Block: How ‘The Passion of the Christ’ may help bring Peace to the Middle East.” Shamir contends that Gibson’s film has broken through the dizzy thrall of the evangelical “rapture” Christians and shown them that the alliance of Christ-hating Zionists and Christ-loving Christians was an absurdity from the beginning. May it be so.)

My best guess is that Shamir remains a socialist of some sort, but he does not seem to write about that much. I tend to personally lament that position, if he holds it, since socialism seems to me a bankrupt social program, as I believe has been convincingly demonstrated by Shamir’s fellow Russian, Igor Shafarevitch, in his great book The Socialist Phenomenon.

Shamir does, however, write much about his view that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian battle is to go to a single state, “one man, one vote,” and proceed to live in peace and tolerance. I am not sure whether this is proof of invincible innocence, naiveté, and sheer Panglossian optimism, or whether it is indeed, as he evidently thinks it is, the only decent human answer to a crying human and horrible dilemma. In any case he deplores the brutality of the present Israel stance and would end it at once if he had power.

My reason for writing about Shamir now is to call attention to a recent email in which, in a few strokes, he reviews some high points of Western history since Christ and gives a striking slant to them from the point of view of someone who takes seriously the long-running effort of the “revolutionary Jew”—in the sense that E. Michael Jones has used that term in recent issues of this magazine—to impose his ethos on the entire world, it being understood that Zionism is just the most recent phase of a determined opposition to the Christian order that goes back all the way. (I think Shamir’s term, “Masters of Discourse” can be taken for present purposes as a rough equivalent of Jones’s “revolutionary Jew.”)

Shamir says things I can hardly imagine any gentile saying without falling under indictment as a wicked anti-Semite. What he has up for description is the famous “elephant in the living room” that nobody is supposed to notice or mention: the extraordinary assertiveness and effectiveness of a tiny Jewish minority in political and cultural affairs, most notably in the U.S. lately in the heavily Jewish and warlike neoconservative domination of our foreign policy with its marked pro-Israel bias.

Despite his open hostility to Sharon and all he stands for, however, Shamir appears to go back and forth from Israel unimpeded by government. For all the government’s iniquity, Israel seems to be relatively open to disagreement among its citizens, perhaps more than we are with our notorious and pusillanimous self-censorship.

In the email I cite, Shamir records a talk he gave in Spain to launch there his book, The Green Rain of Yasuf or Masters of Discourse. The same book is called The Flowers of Galilee in English (Tempe, Arizona: Dandelion Books, 2004) and The Other Face of Israel in French. (I am unable to find any other Shamir titles on Amazon.) Shamir complimented the Spanish on their decision to pull their troops out of Iraq. And then said something I think quite true:

When I wrote so [that the war was about Israel] in the series of articles presented in this book over a year ago, it was a wild opinion shared by a selected few; while majority was fed by stories of a war for liberation of Iraqis, a war for democracy in Iraq, a war to terror, a war to stop Saddam’s WMD, or a war for oil. A year passed and all these explanations vanished like smoke in the night. No WMD were found in devastated Iraq; no connections to al-Qaeda were revealed by tortured prisoners of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo; liberation of Iraq turned out to be the brutal occupation regime; as for oil, at the beginning of the war, oil price stood at 20 dollar a barrel, while now it is about 40 dollars. The oil companies that were blamed for pushing for the war, are pulling out of Iraq, and oil production is well below its pre-war levels. On 29th of April, 2004, the Guardian reported that BP decided to leave Iraq saying that the oil company has no future there.

It leaves us exactly with one reason for war, the reason we stated over a year ago. Sometimes it is called ‘the war for Israel’, but this definition misses the point: the state of Israel does not need this war for its safety; Israelis do not need this war for their well-being. The Jews can live as equals in Palestine or elsewhere; but they want to dominate water, land and souls of the others. For this reason they kill children and ruin homes of Palestinians in Gaza and Iraqis in Faluja. This is the war for Jewish supremacy waged by the US adepts of this concept, against the principle of equality of all dwellers in the Holy Land. In such a war, Spain has no reason to side with the forces of Jewish supremacy, to provide cover for mass destructions in Palestine and for mass tortures in Guantanamo.

After this start, Shamir keeps going. He is a determined blaster of tidy, time-honored notions of history, particularly, I might remark— with a touch of Irish Schadenfreude—those that are over-kind to our English brethren. For example, it is an old English custom to go on and on about how bad the Spaniards were as colonizers. Here is Shamir:

Spain had no reason to fight for Jewish racism as your country has a glorious anti-racist record often distorted in modern Jewish narrative, which became the dominant Anglo-American discourse. You are blamed for so-called Expulsion of 1492. But majority of exiled Jews came back, gave up their racist tradition of superiority, agreed to share bread and wine with other Spaniards—for that is the meaning of Eucharist—and became honourable citizens of Spain. S Teresa of Avila and S Juan de la Cruz are the shining examples of their glory.

On the other hand, England under Cromwell accepted the exiled Jews and received kudos from the Masters of Discourse for this deed. They do not speak of its connection with fencing out the English commoners, with massacre of Irish peasants and Scots, and with massive genocide of Native Americans in their colonies, but the regimes that are ‘good for Jews’ are rarely good for anybody else.

The same Masters of Discourse vilify Spain for its treatment of Native Americans. But in the end, Spaniards married natives and brought forward the modern nations of Latin America, while the North American colonists, who were very good to Jews and considered themselves ‘new Jews’, killed off almost all natives and transferred the remainder into reservations.

I remember just this point being made (without reference to the influence of Judaism) by Garrett Mattingly, author of The Armada, when I took a course in European history under him at Columbia in 1947. I never forgot it. He said the Spanish and Portuguese accepted Indians as fellow human beings; the great Bartolomé de las Casas argued that very thing before Spanish legists. They left the native gene pool (if that is the correct term) in place; in fact they joined in it. The English goal was racist—to extirpate it. That is one reason I do not join in the anti-Hispanic frenzy with quite the enthusiasm of some of my “Anglo” neighbors here in Texas; the Indians owned the place to begin with, and, God-willing, may be good for it in the long run.

Shamir deals with 20th century Russia and the U.S., their cold war, and where the U.S. is today in a paragraph of striking force and simplicity that points to a grim future (unless):

Indeed it is a mistake to think that theology is an irrelevant occupation of useless clerics, while only material possessions matter. Theology is the deep foundation courses on which the palace of a society is built. Without foundations, the palace will collapse at a blow of a strong wind, let alone earthquake. It was the reason of Soviet collapse: quasi-religious communism had no strong theological foundation and did not survive. In the ‘neo-Jewish’ US, the Judaic paradigm came forth in place of apostolic Christianity, and with it the New World Order of dwindling middle class, vast security apparatus, growing social gap and impoverishment of spirit. It is not the first time the Judaic paradigm rises in the world; but such societies invariably collapse for they lack broad social base. Now its adepts decided to ensure its survival by making it globe-wide; this is the reason of wars and expansion, for their design would not survive on any smaller scale.

And here is a revisionist look at World War II and the tired political face-off of “left” and “right”:

The tragic and destructive confrontation of Left and Right reached its peak in your [Spanish] Civil War and at the World War Two, where the two great anti-bourgeois movements, ‘left and right disciples of Hegel’ shed their blood ad majoram US gloriam, to the greater glory of the neo-Judaic US, the ultimate winner of war. . . . 

Nowadays we have pseudo-Left and pseudo-Right, for there is no difference between Thatcher and Blair, Bush and Kerry – both equally support Israel in its drive for supremacy. In Spain and France, the left and the right-wing newspapers were united in their condemnation of The Passion of The Christ by Mel Gibson as ‘offensive to Jews’. Thus, instead of Left and Right, we have a new dichotomy, a new split, by attitude to Judaic supremacy. Today the US fights the Muslims for Israel, but Huntington, the leading theorist of the war, already calls to contain the Hispanics in the US, as they are not sufficiently devoted to the Jewish cause.

Shamir’s last words to his Spanish audience are moving, particularly so because of his appeal to the central Christian tradition of Spain:

Spain has an important role to play, for Spain is inherently connected with the Land of Christ and St. James, your favourite saint whom you call Santiago. This Palestinian fisherman was beheaded by orders of Sharon’s predecessor, King Herod Antipas, and his head was taken by his disciples to your shores to be interned in Santiago de Compostella, but his heart remained buried in Jerusalem, and Cathedral of St James rose above his tomb equally venerated by Palestinian Christians and Muslims, for in our land Christians and Muslims live together in great peace and harmony sharing same places of veneration and—no less important—same enemy. Their enemy is not ‘the Jew’, for Jews can live peacefully with Spaniards and Palestinians, but the spirit of Judaic supremacy, which has to be defeated and it will be defeated.

For my part I take heart from the assurance of this Jew, Shamir, that our common enemy is not the Jew, or Jews, but “the spirit of Judaic supremacy.” I leave it to Shamir to castigate Sharon and the government of Israel for their hideous campaign of domination over Palestinians. I intend to concentrate on writing and praying against the equally hideous campaign of domination of the world indulged in by our resident U.S. regime, staunch allies of Sharon and conductors of an illegitimate war against an aggrieved people in Iraq. We have been irreversibly shamed by the overall conduct of the war with its slaughter of innocents and now by the awful photos and stories of torture from Abu Ghraib. We have been set before the world as enemies of peace and decency in a way we shall never live down, and in fact don’t deserve to live down.

Shamir, who does not get much mention in the “respectable” press, seems to me a noble spirit and a penetrating analyst of the world scene today. His love of Christ, of the Holy Land, of the Palestinians, and indeed of his fellow Jews, shines in his writing. I shall be interested to see if my notion of him as a giant of world literature (based, I admit, on a very limited reading of his works), and as a paradigm of virtuous political protest, holds up in the years ahead. My guess is it will.  

Copyright © 2004  Fidelity Press, All Rights Reserved.

Posted with permission