Does Shamir exist?
An article in a Russian weekly Zavtra
(translated by Eric Walberg)
and your responses on this entertaining subject.
The Shamir Legend
By Ratibor Petrushkin ( Zavtra 20/06/2003)
For a few years of Israel
Shamir's publications in Zavtra, the newspaper has received over ten kilograms of letters and megabytes of email carefully and convincingly showing in diverse non-contradictory ways and in sundry languages that such a person doesn't and cannot exist. Altogether they produced some 27 reasons against Shamir's existence. There were deconstructions and refutations, subtle sophisms, proofs to the contrary, fact comparison analysis, content deconstruction, oaths and denunciations, exposes and requests to confess the truth.
These tangible letters with stamps and return addresses made us think that their writers are real live persons whose existence can't be doubted. That is why we began to doubt Shamir's existence. The more letters we received, the more our doubts grew. Perhaps it is our Chief Editor Prochanov who writes all these anti-Israeli articles under Shamir's name, as hundreds of our respondents claimed? A Jew can't write like
that about the Jews. Or can he?
Some factors only enhanced the confusion. First, the incredibly broad range of interests of the author called 'Israel Shamir'. It was shockingly, overwhelmingly extensive; one had to be enraptured with his learning or otherwise consider a version of a collective using this name. Indeed, Shamir is all over the place: he translates Joyce and Homer, lives in Japan, works at
BBC, fights Arabs and Soviet secret services; he is a Zionist and anti-Semite; a socialist and a Talmud scholar: It is too much of erudition for one man!
Time and again, Israel Shamir would appear at the Zavtra office and cause even more disturbing questions by his appearance. Aged, but wiry, feline, but weary, tanned like a black, and curly-haired in the same way, tenacious and
contemplative at once, witty and profound, similar to Prochanov and dissimilar, he drinks his vodka with cucumber, speaks faultless Russian, but with a Jewish intonation; smiles guiltily somewhat for not being sure what is he. When I first saw him I took him for a Cuban. Once I asked him hesitantly 'Are you Shamir?' - 'Yes!' - he replied; but my doubts just increased. To dispel my doubts, I searched out his biography. It can be found at the "First unofficial Russian site of Israel Shamir"; an official site does not exist. Here it is:
"Guide, translator, journalist and writer, Shamir was born in Novosibirsk in 1947. He graduated from the elite High School of Physics and Mathematics in Academgorodok, read math in Novosibirsk University and law at Sverdlovsk Law School. Still a student, he befriended dissidents. While at Law School he wrote a Bill of rights and liberties of man in the USSR, and was expelled from the school for this work. This only
strengthened his will to sacrifice his life for a just cause. In the late '60s, Shamir met Zionists in Moscow (who highly valued Shamir's experience in samizdat (free media) and his conspiratorial abilities), and he became active in the Zionist movement. In 1968 he protested against Soviet aggression in Czechoslovakia and soon emigrated to Israel where he served in the elite paratrooper unit and took part in the 1973 war. After the war he continued his studies of law at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem. However, fate meant that his career as a
lawyer would be abandoned, but he fully realised his potential as a journalist and writer.
Israel Shamir cut his teeth as a journalist at Israeli radio. Afterwards, as a freelance writer he often went to 'hot spots' such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. In 1975 moved to London and joined the BBC. In 1977-79 he lived in Japan being invited by Japanese radio...
Already in 1970s Israel Shamir grew disillusioned with Zionism because of the discrimination of non-Jews in Israel. The Jewish state reminded him of Stalinist Russia and rekindled the fire of protest. That is why, returning to Israel in 1980, Shamir became active in politics. He worked as press secretary for the Israeli Socialist party (Mapam) and wrote for Ha'aretz. He translated Agnon (Nobel laureate) and Ulysses by Joyce. His best
known work is Sosna i Oliva (Pine and Olive), a historical work on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict published in 1988. In this book he sharply condemns the Israeli aggressive and criminal policies towards the Palestinians. In 1989-93 he returned to Russia as a Ha'aretz correspondent. At first he was enchanted with perestroika, but the real perestroika foreign policy worried him because of its strong pro-American tendency. At that time he wrote his notorious and controversial articles in Pravda, Nash Sovremennik, Den and Zavtra (under the pen
name Robert David), arguing that Soviet foreign policy was the best possible policy for the Soviet Union and for the Third World. He condemned Yeltsin and his circle for shelling the Russian parliament and called this action 'illegitimate and illegal'.
Soon, thanks to recommendations of two extremely different writers, Lev Anninsky (left) and Stanislav Kunyaev (right), Shamir joined the prestigious Russian
Writers' union. In 1993 he returned to Israel and settled in Jaffa. In addition to his many articles for Israeli and Russian newspapers, he translated the classic Homer's Odyssey, which was published in 2000 in St Petersburg. His next big project was (is?) a translation of a 15th century Talmudic manuscript into English. In his most recent articles, Israel Shamir criticizes the Israeli left and their "Two States’ solution" (the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish states)." End of the biography from the unofficial site.
At the beginning of the 20th c, such a fiery Jew could have existed; we can imagine him at that time: his thirst for greatness, dreams of a real life and heroic death; escape from a boring schtetl to the capital city, to the revolutionary circles, into human turmoil; the wind of revolution beat hot on his tempestuous, curly head; calumnies, pursuit, exile; decisive battles and victories; grandiose plans of both heaven
on earth and world conflagration; decrees and meetings, wild exertions at work; early frictions, disagreements, resignation; challenge issued and terrible death - or reconciliation and a long peaceful old age somewhere on the shores of the Amur River among hills so beautiful in September... But such a life today? Impossible. This bio just raises more questions.
And it is the writings of this author that
create the most confusion. Russians often criticise Russia, and readers explain their position by Russia's wrongs or by non-Russian soul of the Russian critics. But when a Jew steeped in the Bible and Talmud criticises not only the state of Israel but the very concept of 'the Jewish People', the familiar world around us collapses and the situation requires immediate re-interpretation.
The word "traitor" is the most
frequent one in the pile of letters whose authors, using strict rules of logic, simultaneously argued Shamir's betrayal of the Jewish cause AND the impossibility of his existence as a person. They hated someone who, in their opinion, never existed. But that is the simplest interpretation.
Of course, in history and literature, we know such instances - the blind Borges in his Story of a Warrior and a
Captive convincingly argues of "the obscure heart's desire overriding any reasons" and of stupendous difference between treason and revelation, between a turncoat and a new adept. But in Shamir's case, it is not treason because it is not clear who is the real traitor - Shamir, the state of Israel or world Jewry.
From philosophy courses, we all know the sophism about the Cretan stating that all Cretans
are liars. Not every student could extricate himself from this vicious circle. Shamir's texts manifest that a Jewish state is a misnomer, while 'the Jewish people' is not a reality, but an imagined idea. Shamir's presence in the world elevates this hypothesis to the status of proven theorem. If a non-Jew wrote this he would be a liar. But if a Jew writes it, then Israel the State is based on a lie and the Jews as we know them don't exist. So we have a difficult choice: either Shamir or Israel doesn't exist, and who knows who will win. If one
accepts existence of Israel the Man one has to doubt existence of Israel the State.
Or maybe Shamir is the only really existing Jew nowadays, and Berezovsky, Soros, Wolfowitz and Rabinovich: well, it's not at all clear WHO they are. Maybe the real state of Israel is trying to manifest itself in the world through such a person as Shamir, and the likes of Sharon are only getting in the way? Maybe Jews do
not exist, and Shamir, after proving this, at a given moment, is already dissolving forever into the ringing Palestinian heat. Shamir himself can't reply whether he is real or not. More likely he'll agree that he doesn't exist, and will repeat the words of Joyce: I am not I, since all my molecules have changed.
From Joh Domingo:
This attack on Shamir is
really going to leave these guys with egg on their faces. The question for me is will they display the same abhorrence at interacting with Jewish National Socialists as they do at interacting with White National Socialists? Anyone with half a brain will read the searchlight archives and realize that it is Jewish National Socialist Site masquerading as an anti-Fascist magazine. Yet its propagandistic hit piece is being touted as if it is a newly discovered Palm of David. If they feel icky at the thought of association with Shamir, they must be
installing Japanese baths to cleanse the stench of their association with M*SS*D. The last time it was CAMERA. Who said they weren’t upwardly mobile?
Eisen’s piece was brilliant and timely. It reminds us of when Said and Ish were about the only heretics heard consistently on One-State. Perhaps we should start digging and provide some history lessons. I don’t
agree that all this kafuffle is distracting from the One-State agenda. People are too pompous. What is the One-Sate agenda, convening a UN sponsored conference about it?
No, we are in early stages yet, the goal must be to attract disaffected recent converts to the left movement. You guys are all veterans and you must by now realize that the left has attracted an army of disaffected Zionist and ordinary
people turning on to alternative opinion. These types of people are there primarily because the stench of hypocrisy in mainstream discourse is churning their stomachs. The left is a charnel house when it comes to hypocritical positions. The message should be: "Hey guys, we don’t care what you are, or who you are, we think you can support this regardless because it is right."
There should be no vetting
process and all that shyte, hell, even MOSSAD can join at their peril. They are going to join anyway. Disaffected people respond to emotive pieces full of taboo imagery that fuels rebellion. The sixties and seventies had Dylan and Hendrix, we need to create our own rebellious culture, and the circumstances are perfect. We need gurus, not facile intellectual prima donnas. One can buy manuals about how to construct an equitable society – "Justice and Equity for Dummies". Who needs hypersensitive professors to tell us what we already know?
Speaking of history lessons, anyone remember this piece by Jack Ross in Pravda? I found it again after typing in "Israel Shamir" on Google as Roland suggests. I think we need to keep encouraging people to type in "Israel Shamir’ on Google, our slogan should be, "Type ‘Israel Shamir’ on Google today!" Let’s sell the sizzle, not the steak. To date we have been waxing eloquent on the technicalities of making hamburger.
Dear Mr. Shamir:
I have not personally met you, but I know that you are a real person. Not
only that, but I also consider you a friend, and I always look forward to
receiving your messages. As a matter of fact, you are one of the very few
who can be described as true human beings. You have successfully surpassed
the limitations imposed on individuals by all religions and cultures to
maintain control over people in the hands of those who benefit from dividing
the human race into clashing civilizations, religions, nations, and
ethnicities. You are real, my friend, and their attempts to deny you
confirm your success in refuting their lies. They know that they lost the
debate with you, and their only way to reclaim a "win" is to go behind your
arguments and attack you - a typical tactic of transforming an objective
debate into a subjective attack!
I like your challenge to those who doubt the truth, and I hope that millions
will accept your challenge and act accordingly - you will become a rich man,
and the doubters will be converted into believers. Not-surprisingly
Thanks for your message - the Searchlight story was a desperate ( and desperately badly written) but nonsensical attempt to discredit you and your message.
1. I suppose you should be honoured by all the fuss, considering the source.
2. Frankly, Lyle and I think you should have a whole plethora of alternate identities and addresses: we worry very much for your safety as it is.
3. I LOVE your challenge -- it's just simply perfect.
And one day my brother, I hope to be among those who will come and meet you. Meanwhile I pray that Allah keeps you safe from your enemies and uses you in this work of trying to make justice prevail. I was speaking to a young friend today who said that we should aim to create peace. I told him that peace was not a real goal. Peace is actually an outcome of justice. When there is justice in the land, peace is a consequence. So the real goal is justice. And for that
sometimes we have to temporarily sacrifice peace. So that when it comes, the peace will be permanent. Or at least as permanent as anything can be in this impermanent world of ours.
All the best from one of your many readers.
Mirza Yawar Baig
I know for a fact that you are alive, because my son attended one of your lectures in Houston and I know you cannot be a Mossad agent because no matter how well they camouflage themselves, they cannot
totally hide their inner sentiments and as such could not be so prolific in writing about what is peaceful and serene and beautiful in the holy land which, once in commenting on my being a Syrian, referred to it as being part of Bilad Al Sham, in one of your letters to me. No Mossad agent would commit such blasphemy.
Like the Christ that you chose to follow, you will be denounced by the Pharisees but respected by the people who seek truth and enlightenment and peace.
Keep up the good work.
I confirm that you are very much alive and I am very happy that this is so!
Don't let them bring you down!
I hope you and your loved ones are well!
I am flabbergasted (and fed up I must confess) to receive this kind of stuff about excellent I.A. Shamir.
Met him in Paris three or four times, doesn’t seem an extra-terrestrial alien to me, as far as I am concerned.
Friend of mine met him in Jaffa two hours after having taken an appointment with him. Possible for somebody living in Tel Aviv or Jaffa, quite impossible for anybody leaving in Stockholm or Gothenburg.
But, perhaps, I. Shamir has got a very special space ship that he didn't ever show us!?!
What a suspense ! I’m waiting for the explication by M. Abraham Weizfeld.
From Bob Green in Vermont
yo, Adam, I know you exist! You spoke in my town!
If Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare's plays,
and another guy named Jerry Smith did, are they
You obviously have become a very important human rights activist and I am
proud to receive your e-mails.
Today's world needs more than ever light towers like you to draw attention
to social justice so that our grand children can live in peace and harmony.
Hello my old friend!
Tell those horribly persistent pests that I have a phone bill which proves that you are definitely where you say you are!
Love you and miss you,
If Mossad is really writing the Israel Shamir essays, then I say, "Well
done, Mossad! Keep those insightful and thought-provoking essays coming!"
Je maîtrise peu l'anglais. Veuillez me permettre de
répondre en français.
Lorsque nous avons commencé à lire Shamir (je ne
remercierai jamais assez Marcel pour ses traductions) cela
a été une véritable bouffée d'oxygène dans ce milieu
pro-palestinien complètement sclérosé et bouffé par les
pseudos opposants sionistes qui passaient leur temps à
nous freiner, tout en dénonçant ceux et celles qui pensaient
d'une manière autonome.
Suite à la maladie de notre ami Maurice Jacoby, israélien
déjà très dissident, qui nous avait aidé à créer "La Pierre et
L'olivier", en 1990, qui était, il y déjà plus de vingt ans "Pour
un seul Etat palestinien pour tous, quelle que soit la religion
pratiquée" et qui n'a jamais varié, nous n'avions plus assez
Car, lui aussi, comme Shamir, était rejeté par toutes les
associations qui le traitaient de sénile, voir de radoteur et
ne l'écoutait surtout pas.
Il a écrit de nombreux articles "Dans témoignage Chrétien"
ou "Silence" , puis un livre " Palestine terre nourricière,
Israël Base militaire" qu'il n'a jamais pu publier en France. Il
est aujourd'hui très âgé et a dû arrêter son combat que
nous continuons, car tout ce qu'il nous a communiqué a
porté ses fruits
Les associations de solidarité avec les Palestiniens (à part
la Pierre et l'Olivier) ont toutes été pour les "Accords d'Oslo"
et ont dénoncé ceux qui étaient réservés par rapport à ces
accords de "soumission". Elles étaient pour donner
(généreusement) 22 % de la Palestine historique à ses
autochtones, tout en sacrifiant les réfugiés et les
prisonniers.... ce qui en fait impliquait la reconnaissance
d'un Etat juif, ethnique et d'apartheid.
Cette attitude que j'ai toujours dénoncée et qui m'avait
profondément choqué a été la cause première d'une
campagne virulente contre moi et l'association dont j'étais
Cela n'a fait qu'empirer par la suite.
Shamir est du poil à gratter pour tous les sionistes.Et, non seulement il est antisioniste, mais il s'appelle aussi
Israël... ce qui finit par tout compliquer. Car, comment
peut-on se permettre de le traiter d'antisémite alors qu'il se
Il a vraiment tout pour déranger. Il n'existerait pas, il faudrait l'inventer.
J'ai été à ses côtés dans deux conférences "à Marseille et à
Paris "et j'ai vu les réactions épidermiques qu'il déclenchait
chez les sionistes.
Les réactions des gens après l'émission que nous avons
faite sur "Radio Méditerranée" ont été les mêmes.
Je garde toute ma confiance en Shamir comme je l'avais
toujours gardée en Maurice Jacoby. Je n'ai jamais été
déçue par l'un pourquoi le serions-nous par Shamir.
Ne tombons pas dans le piège qui nous est tendu.
Shamir est quelqu'un qui dérange parce qu'il est sincère
(tout ce qu'il écrit le prouve) et qu'il continue à dénoncer
toutes les injustices et les atteintes au droit de l'homme,
surtout là où tous préfèrent fermer les yeux.
J'espère que Shamir continuera encore longtemps à
Ginette Hess Skandrani
Présidente de "la Pierre et l'Olivier"
Et représentante en IDF de " Pour un seul Etat
démocratique en Palestine/Israël"
Bravo, Mr. Shamir,
Just when it appears that I have been enveloped by darkness, an email from Israel Shamir brings light.
I was born of Jewish parents and my mother was a rabid Zionist. A long and winding road has taken me far from my roots - through many religions, including a baptism in 1991.
At this point, I look upon organized religion with distaste. Religions have perverted the messages of the ages and sages - messages of peace, love and unity.
I weep for the Palestinians. And....... I weep for the brainwashed Jewish people who have been frightened to death by the Holocaust Industry.
Thank you for your wisdom, courage and integrity.
Rachel Smith wrote:
> The truth about "ISRAEL SHAMIR"
From: Jeff Blankfort [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
To: Rachel Smith
Subject: Re: Israel Shamir DOES NOT EXIST!!!!
Well, this email is a hoax because two years ago, Israel Shamir came to
to the San Francisco Bay Area where he spoke at St. John's Church on
Irving Street and participated in a discussion at UC's SF campus and
where I met him. And he plans to return this summer. People have servers
and web addresses in places other than where they live and in Shamir's
case with the number of Zionist crazies out there, this email being just
a minor example, it insures his physical safety.
Israel Shamir does not exist? How so like a Zionist to deny reality when it
doesn't fit into his or her concept of the world (i.e. that everyone and
everything should be at the service of ``the only democracy in the Middle
I had coffee Israel Shamir and interviewed him almost exactly a year ago at
an Internet café near Bab Ijdeed. He's a pretty joyful and funny guy. It was
just before Easter and the Old City was filled with heavily armed military
occupation creeps who stopped people from moving freely to the Holy
Sepulchre and other churches to practice their religion and celebrate their
holy day, under the pretence that they, the soldiers, had been warned that
there would be ``incidents of terrorist violence" (yawn). Israel wrote an
article about it, telling it like it was, as usual: that the occupation
creeps were there not to protect people, but rather to be obnoxious and
arbitrary, and to push people around and humiliate them in the hope that
they would provoke a violent response.
Happily, they failed.
If you were a Mossad agent :) I very much doubt that Searchlight would have
outed you. You'd be in the Zionist media all the time, instead of trying at
great personal cost to change the world. I believe that you're an honest
man, and true to your ideals. I also admire your policy of inclusion of all
instead of staying in the "left-wing ghetto". A mensch, first.
Naseer Ahmad, M.D.(MA), D.Sc. :)