The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
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Among the colorful revelers of Allenby street, in crowded restaurants of merry-making Tel Aviv nights, a vision came to me, a vision of an angel in battle-dress, chalking up on a wall three words, Mene, Tekel ufarsin. My Angel-English on-line dictionary prompts a translation: you were tested and you failed the test. These are the... Read More
Last September, just a few weeks before the eruption of the second Palestinian intifadah, I wandered over to Cinemateque square in the upscale area of Tel Aviv. In the cool breeze of late afternoon, a few dozen retirees with their families were having a nice outing. The old ladies knitted, while kids drew flags on... Read More
The touching words of Elie Wiesel (Jerusalem in My Heart, NYT 1/25/2001) painted a beautiful portrait of the Jewish people, yearning for Jerusalem, loving and praying for it over the centuries and cherishing its name from generation to generation. This potent image reminded me, an Israeli writer from Jaffa, of something familiar yet elusive. I... Read More
While walking by the Tel Aviv seashore promenade, I was approached by a slick blond guy who invited me to visit lady luck. A mixed crowd of tourists and folks from Afula and Dimona had gathered to watch this street artist with fast hands, three glasses and a ball. 'Try and guess, where the ball... Read More
Author's Note: The troubled land of Palestine provides preciously little of it right now, that is why I offer you my article about Cuba, for change and hope. In Cuba, the local Jews are fully integrated in the society and exercise their abilities for the common good. While we hear of the growing social differences... Read More
After the last episode of the 'Fateful Elections', the actors amiably shared the trophies backstage. The muse of Israeli politics, like Coca-Cola, wishes to please everybody. Whoever thought that Barak was the best candidate, will be pleased to have him back in power as the Minister of Defense. Those who were about to get nostalgic... Read More
When in 1543, the typhoon-blown Portuguese schooners approached the shores of Japan, the astonished sailors could not believe their eyes: on a warm spring day, the tropical island ahoy was buried under snow. They were witness to one of the real Seven Wonders of the World, the flowers of sakura, the wild cherry of Japan.... Read More
It is not easy to visit Joseph these days. Roadblocks manned by nervous Israeli soldiers have surrounded his city of Nablus; trenches or heaps of earth block the smallest entrances and exits. On a normal morning, commuters pour in from nearby villages for work or shopping; now they do so at their own peril, and... Read More
Folk stories about vampires provide readers with various remedies to the calamity of a ghoulish attack. A fistful of graveyard dirt is favored, garlic is beneficial, and the cross is most efficient. But these remedies don't always work. In Roman Polansky's hilarious horror comedy, The Fearless Vampire Killers, the hero tries to scare off a... Read More
The Viennese Jewish shrinks decided to disinvite the American Palestinian Professor Edward Said, who had been called to lecture them in memory of Sigmund Freud. The Professor had been seen throwing a stone towards an Israeli border. The psychiatrists said it speaks a lot about his subconscious. They would never throw a rock, as the... Read More
On a beautiful spring day, when the skies of the Holy Land are tender blue and the grass is a verdant green, air-conditioned buses ferry tourists from the City of the Plain to the City in the Mountains. A small distance past the halfway point, just beyond the reconstructed Ottoman inn of Bab al-Wad, the... Read More
In the movie based on the mammoth tale by Jean Auel, Clan of Cave Bear, there is a glimpse of the sex life of the Palaeolithic people who roamed the earth some 35,000 years ago. Apparently, whenever a Neanderthal wished to have fun, he didn’t need to bring flowers or arrange dinner for two. He... Read More
Easter greetings to you from Israel Shamir
Today is a beautiful day, a day of new hope and new promise. Two thousand years ago, the first joust of two spirits, the spirit of brotherhood of Man and the spirit of Master-Slave domination, was over. Jesus taught, love your neighbor as yourself, even if he is a traditional enemy of Jews, a Samaritan.... Read More
Dear friends, You asked me to comment on the letter of Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish. They spoke against what they feared might be my anti- Semitism. I am certainly pleased with their principled stand. As a Jew and a man, I salute them. Any irrational aversion to Jews should be certainly eradicated and condemned.... Read More
I Things move really fast nowadays. Just yesterday we hardly dared to call the Israeli policy of official discrimination against Palestinians by the harsh word ‘apartheid’. Today, as Sharon’s tanks and missiles pound defenceless cities and villages, the word barely suffices. It has become an unjustified insult to the white supremacists of South Africa. They,... Read More
Jews are good to eat kugel with, opined that notorious anti-Semite, Sholom Aleichem, and he added, that is all they are good to do with. This maxim came to my mind, as Chicago hosts the 'Junity', or Jewish Unity for Just Peace conference. Maybe Sholom Aleichem was too harsh. He spoke without knowing any Sephardi... Read More
Nobody is allowed to enter or leave the Gaza Strip. It is surrounded by barbed wire, its gates are locked, and even with the proper documents, one cannot visit the largest high security prison on earth, home to over one million Palestinians. The Israeli army, once a fabled fighting force, has become mere prison guard.... Read More
While Broadway successfully hosts a musical comedy Springtime for Hitler, a prominent Californian newspaper published a revisionist article, attempting to reverse the accepted version of Nazi Germany and justify the persecution of its Jews. The author of the article has a highly original vision of the German life before Hitler’s rise to power. By subterfuge,... Read More
The Russian discotheque Dolphi, devastated by the Friday night blast, stands on the shore of Manshieh, a destroyed Palestinian neighborhood of Jaffa, not far from my home. Teenage friends of my sons used to frequent the place. It is an innocent crowd, brought to the shores of Palestine by their parents after disintegration of the... Read More
As the CIA-brokered cease fire went into effect, I received an anxious call from a village of Aboud, on the western slopes of Samarian hills. The village was raided by the army, and two men were shot. Today I went there, to see the village and to feel the cease fire. Aboud is surrounded by... Read More
With Sunday Times’ disclosure of the Israeli security services’ involvement in the slaughter of the Russian kids in Tel Aviv, the clever by half plot began to unravel. From the first moment, there were reasonable doubts that it was an act of Palestinian terror. The crime had the bloody fingerprints of the Jewish supremacist all... Read More
I had the honour to be invited to speak in the high international forum of UNESCO in Paris on the question of the media's coverage of the Israeli/Palestine conflict. It was an interesting gathering of upper-middle level politicians and journalists. The key speaker was UN Coordinator for the Middle East, the suave Scandinavian Terje Roed-Larsen.... Read More
A couple of weeks ago, while travelling in Northern Spain, I came upon the old capital of Navarre. Pamplona celebrated the feria of St Fermin, and thousands of aficionados crowded the narrow streets leading to the famed bullring. There were also a lot of foreigners earnestly following Hemingway's steps. In the morning, young boys run... Read More
As F-16’s again bomb cities of Palestine, and young men again sacrifice their lives and the lives of others, Martin Indyk, writing in the New York Times, proclaims that the ‘Violence is worsening’[i]. The BBC and CNN reports, like a Greek chorus, echo Indyk with their reports of ‘Violence in Palestine’. The White House issues... Read More
Like the Four Riders of the Apocalypse, the unknown kamikaze rode their giant crafts into the two visible symbols of American world domination, Wall Street and the Pentagon. They vanished in flames and smoke, and we do not yet know who they were. They could be practically anybody: American Nationalists, American Communists, American Fundamentalist Christians,... Read More
The steep slopes of Wadi Keziv in Western Galilee are walled by squat local oaks and thorny bush. On the streambed, oleanders and cypresses look into shallow ponds formed by its springs. I like this secluded canyon. On hot summer days, one can hide in an intricate deep cave and laze in its cool, clear... Read More
The main road of the Palestinian Highlands from Nablus to Jerusalem runs through Wadi Haramiyeh, a narrow defile in the Samaria Mountains. From time to time, its olive-grown walls recede and leave space for a village, tiny En Sinya, a neat and charming cluster of spacious homes, or splendid Sinjil, named after Raymond de Saint-Gilles,... Read More
In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, in the course of defending the cause of Palestine, I've met with wonderful Cynthia McKinney, who would be the best president for the US. After this touching meeting, she wrote to her list: I can hardly believe this moment!! Israel Shamir has written about me and lifted my spirits... Read More
October 27, 2002 Most soothing, tender and sensual to the touch, picking olives is akin to telling beads. Oriental men wear ‘mesbaha’ beads of wood or stone on their wrist, reminding of prayer and calming down frayed nerves, but olives are much better: they are alive. Olives are tender but not fragile, like peasant girls,... Read More
November 9, 2002 An arch is homage to the moon, as it is formed by two mirroring crescents. Full moon produces the perfectly round barrel vault favored by Romans; the pointed Muslim arches are formed by waxing seventh-day crescents. In Nablous, there are arches for every day of the lunar month, even upturned arches composed... Read More
Their names bear a touch of medieval morality plays, but instead of Hope, Penance and Mercy, the three sisters are called Amal, Taura, Tahrir, or Hope, Revolution, and Liberation. Dressed like ordinary college girls they were - they would not stick out at Yale or Tel Aviv University. Their books and CDs are the same... Read More
The ultra-nationalist Israeli National Union Party (NU) called to cancel Israeli citizenship of Uri Avneri, the well-known peace activist whom I admire for his courage, organisational abilities and persistence in struggle. Avneri wrote a response (see below), showing some troublesome tendencies. One would not pay attention to its faux pas if they would not be... Read More
Why a man who supports equality stands for the freedom of speech for extreme right - my response to past and future...
At the height of the Great Cultural Revolution, the Chinese had the temerity to embark upon a monumental, nature-changing enterprise: they decided to exterminate ALL flies. The spirit of their solidarity was so powerful that they succeeded. For a while, they enjoyed peaceful summer evenings without this great annoyance. No buzz, no fuss: life was... Read More
At the height of the Great Cultural Revolution, the Chinese had the temerity to embark upon a monumental, nature-changing enterprise: they decided to exterminate ALL flies. The spirit of their solidarity was so powerful that they succeeded. For a while, they enjoyed peaceful summer evenings without this great annoyance. No buzz, no fuss: life was... Read More
Take a country populated by diverse communities, the indigenous and immigrant, of roughly equal size. These communities profess different religions and ply different trades. The immigrants are better at business; the natives prefer to till their soil. It could be a description of Palestine with its native Palestinians and the immigrant Jewish communities. But here... Read More
The options for Israel's future shrunk to a stark choice between Jewish Fascism and the State for All.
The dismal results of the elections confirmed bankruptcy of the traditional Jewish Left. Do not regret overmuch: Meretz and Labour competed with the nationalist parties in anti-Arafat rhetoric and remained adamant in rejecting the full equality for non-Jews. They were undermined by demographic shift: their electorate, wealthy and well-educated Ashkenazi Jews, voted with their legs... Read More
In a twist of nomenclature that would seem implausible in fiction, a craft carrying Col. Ilan Ramon of the Israeli Air Force apparently broke up over an East Texas town called Palestine. NYT, 2/2/03 Omens, good and bad, are sent to us like beacons to facilitate our navigation in the sea of troubles, said the... Read More
A Talk Given in Istanbul City Big Concert Hall on 22.02.03
Heavy snowfall blocks the mountain passes of Anatolia, lays thick Persian carpets on the streets, paints white the mosque domes, churches and markets of your City, the eternal capital of great empires. I came from Jerusalem al-Quds via Moscow, two places intricately connected to the Second Rome. A few days ago I stood at the... Read More
A new spectre haunts America. It enters the well-protected boardrooms of newspapers and banks, shakes the deep foundations of its towers. It is the spectre of glasnost: the dark secret of Jewish power is out. Just recently it was ‘third rail’, touch-and-die, deadly dangerous to mention, certain end to a career. Just recently, Joe Public... Read More
A dreadful monster assaults the city, kills its brave defenders, and advances to devour the citizens. At the last moment, a young maiden demurely walks forward to meet the monster. Her very sight, the sight of feminine innocence, vulnerability, spirituality, certainty of the right cause, stops the ogre in its tracks. The beast suffers her... Read More
A Homage to Simone Weil
Walls of cold rain and hale encompassed my Jaffa; streets turned into ferocious streams; snow touched palm trees and whitened the sidewalks of subtropical Tel Aviv, in violent counterpoint to the violet skies hanging low, just handbreadth above the belfries and minarets as hurricane rushed masses of sand and rain clouds over the deep cleft... Read More
Exegesis of Besson
In Luc Besson's delightful film, The Fifth Element (with perfect Milla Jovovich and supreme Bruce Willis), an absolutely evil force, the Shadow, Messenger of Death, comes from Outer Space to destroy human life on our planet. It is impervious to bombs and missiles, and regardless of what people do, it closes in, and its cover... Read More
We watched Pink Floyd's The Wall in a small, bare and shabby cinema called Semadar, The Vine Blossom in the quaint German Colony of Jerusalem. Emptied of ethnic Germans by the Jews in 1948, it still preserves its old stone houses roofed with red tiles, gables with immured plaques quoting Psalms inscribed in Gothic script,... Read More
A talk given at “The Dialogue of Civilizations: the Contradictions of the Globalization” International Conference on...
The organizers of the conference could not find a better place to discuss its topic, for the Ukraine is the borderland between Civilizations, the ground where these ultimate personae of human history check their valor and vitality by prayer and sword. Founded by Vikings, peopled by Slavs, baptized by Byzantines, decorated by poplar and scented... Read More
A talk given in Paris on 18 June 2003
The Road Map is not a compromise between Palestinians and Jews, but between Jews and Jews, none of whom lives in the Middle East, namely, between Jewish liberals of New York and Jewish neo-cons of Washington. Both groups are devoted to preservation and prosperity of the Jewish State, but they disagree on strategy: while neo-cons... Read More
Avnery's Two States idea is fully applicable everywhere, if it applicable in Palestine.
Often meeting Uri Avnery at Israeli demos and in Palestinian villages, I came to admire this active octogenarian and the perennial symbol of Israeli peace camp. But even more I love reading Uri Avnery for his skilful pen and for his glib ability to make palatable even the least acceptable ideas. Bertolt Brecht wrote: a... Read More
War is a crime, but this is a manly crime defying effeminate mores and rigid society. The most convinced pacifist can get carried away by the sight of charging cavalry, attacking troops, roaring tanks and fighter jets taking off a desert strip. Not in vain, women admired warriors, poets sung their mighty deeds, and priests... Read More
(The following is a chapter from my new book, Our Lady of Sorrow, available on my site www.israelshamir.net in PDF) The Palestinians call their adherence to soil, to the particular and unique piece of land they choose to live in, by word Sumud. Intifada is an active form of Sumud. Sumud is a form of... Read More
The NY Times is a bountiful spring of instructions to perplexed mankind. Its editors appointed by Mr Sulzberger (apparently, God's representative on earth) have an advice for everybody: what should the French do with their cheese (pasteurise and shove it you-know-where), Russians with their media (give it to Mr Gusinsky, a coreligionist of Mr Sulzberger),... Read More
Israel Shamir
About Israel Shamir

Israel Shamir has written extensively on public affairs, primarily relating to the Israel/Palestine conflict and Russia, including three books, Galilee Flowers, Cabbala of Power and Masters of Discourse available in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, and Hungarian.

He describes himself as a native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, who he moved to Israel in 1969, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war, afterwards turning to journalism and writing. During the late 1970s, he joined the BBC in London later living in Japan. After returning to Israel in 1980, Shamir wrote for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, and was the Knesset spokesman for the Israel Socialist Party (Mapam), also translating and annotating the cryptic works of S.Y. Agnon, the only Hebrew Nobel Prize winning writer, from the original Hebrew into Russian.

His perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict was summed up in The Pine and the Olive, published in 1988 and republished in 2004. That same year, he was received in the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and Holy Land, being baptised Adam by Archbishop Theodosius Attalla Hanna. He now lives in Jaffa and spends much time in Moscow and Stockholm; he is father of three sons.