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Israel/Palestine

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Imprisoning and Torturing Billionaire Oligarchs
The best solutions to difficult problems are simple. The Columbus Egg. The Gordian Knot. The Procrustean Bed. So many people strained their fingers trying to untangle the messy knot, until Alexander came and slashed it open with one fine stroke of his mighty sword. Wise men vainly tried to make an egg stand upright on... Read More
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One Hundred years after the Balfour Declaration – what is actually going on in Palestine? I’d like to say that Palestine is burning and Israel suffers, but the truth must be told: Israel and Palestine are prospering under Netanyahu. It has never been so good. The minimum wage on the Israeli side is now over... Read More
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The Pope of Jerusalem (one of the five original popes, His Beatitude the Patriarch of the Holy Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and Holy Land, by his usual title) Theophilos III hardly dares to visit churches nowadays. Whenever he is coming, his flock stands outside and prevents his entry. Last week, Jewish police helped him... Read More
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Palestine with its wonderful rolling landscapes and venerable old olive trees, - some of them planted by Mary’s own hands, by the Virgin, Mother of Jesus Christ, the Palestinian peasant woman who owned a plot of olive orchard near present Cremisan Convent in Beit Jalla, still bearing Her name; Palestine with its sturdy mountain folk,... Read More
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I learned of Trump’s choice for his ambassador in Tel Aviv ten days before it was announced (and published that in Russian), so I had enough time to discuss the nominee with Palestinians and Israelis, as well as with Russian diplomats. The nomination of David Friedman horrified liberal Israelis, cheered Palestinian activists, befogged the Israeli... Read More
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Autumn is beautiful in Palestine: overripe blue-green figs, unpicked pomegranates pecked by birds, heavy grapes turn red. Now is the olive harvest time, and the burghers of Bethlehem and its twin city Beth Jala (everyone owns a plot with olive trees) bring heavy sacks full of green and black olives to the local oil press... Read More
Andre Pshenichnikov (24) is a most unusual kid. So unusual that he is languishing in Egyptian jail for crossing the border without proper papers. But his story begins earlier. I first heard of him when this young programmer from a Tel Aviv suburb stayed in Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.... Read More
To disavow or debate Abunimah – this is the question. Indeed, an American citizen, born in Jordan, who never tread on the land of Palestine, decided to ostracize Gilad Atzmon, a native Palestinian, born and bred on its soil – a silly idea! Next step, he will forbid earthquakes and hurricanes to occur. For me,... Read More
Review of Melanie Phillips’ The World Turned Upside Down
British columnist Melanie Phillips has discovered Captain Hook’s recipe and used it to prepare her recent book: it is a tempting green, but it’s dangerous to eat. Many pages can be swallowed with no ill effect, but once the reader has succumbed to Phillips’ message of spiritual comfort, the sheer poison of her conclusions sets... Read More
Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who?: A Study of Jewish Identity Politics, (John Hunt Publishing 2011) $14.95, 177 pp., Paper.
Gilad Atzmon is larger than life; no delicate and sensitive artistic soul, he is rather a living volcano, a titan with a Rabelaisian sense of humor and enough energy to power a city. Nights, you will find him entertaining his fans in every corner of the globe with his masterful saxophone playing: tonight in Mexico... Read More
Autumn in the Middle East hasn’t the melancholy connotations you attach to it in the North. For you, this is the season of dying; maple leaves turn purple and geese fly south. For us, this is the jolly season of awakening after stupefying summer heat; grass hatches again on the burned-to-reddish-brown lawns and trees are... Read More
Palestine is important not because it is as beautiful as Tuscany, nor because the Palestinians are suffering, and not even because it is occupied by a Jewish state. What we need to understand is that the Jews have been handed Palestine not because they were so smart or so strong or so devoted, but by... Read More
The Flotilla to Gaza was stopped in its tracks by the omnipresent Israelis and their friends in Greece and France. A part of a pattern? Probably. But first I want to heed an advice. “I wish,” wrote G K Chesterton in his Plea for Hasty Journalism, “that at the beginning or end of all the... Read More
Modern journalism is more akin to warfare than a search for truth. I have been misquoted so many times that it’s a wonder I speak to anyone at all. “Don’t speak to strangers” is what they told us in kindergarten, and I’m sure I’d be better off if I followed that advice. Journalists turn my... Read More
GPL: In France your book about the history of Palestine has recently been released by belgian publisher Oser Dire. When you published The Pine and the Olive at first, in russian, in 1987, 20 years after the annexations of 1967, did you think Jews were still able to "palestinize" themselves? What were your reasons of... Read More
An interview of Israel Shamir to a French-Egyptian site editor Cherif Ismail
Dear Mr Adam Israel Shamir , I ' m happy to meet with you via the internet to present you to the Arab reader in the Arab world and in Europe 1 - How should I present you to an Arab reader ? First of all, I am on your side, on the side of... Read More
The great British journalist Robert Fisk wrote a few days ago: Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East. Fisk is usually wonderful and knowledgeable, but now he was mistaken. He’s got carried away by Lieberman-bashing, this popular pastime of Left Zionists. Indeed you may condemn Lieberman and still... Read More
The Jews do not know when to stop. It is true, they got to the top this way. But while admittedly it is difficult to get to the top, it is harder nay impossible to stay there forever.
“Britons never shall be slaves”, claims the song. Never say “never”. They were so free that they could rhyme ‘the queen’ with ‘her fascist regime’ and ‘she ain't no human being’, in theSex Pistols song. But that was then, and anyway the queen had enough of a sense of humour to invite the Pistols to... Read More
A war is coming – I was forewarned some weeks ago by a most unlikely expert on the subject, an old fisherman called “Charlie”. We sat at a small café by the Sea of Galilee and looked at the dry mud where the sweet waters of the lake used to rollick, at its waterline, which... Read More
This is a human interest story. It could have happened anywhere, but it happened in Jerusalem. Yes, we have Jews and Arabs here, but this is a story about men and women. It would make a good subject for a film, or for a novel, as it includes romantic love, beautiful young lovers separated by... Read More
They went out, risked their lives, rushed the army, overturned the fence, strode the barbed wire, wiped out the border between two states, committed so many heroic acts, worthy of great warriors, suffering casualties -- and when they were through, they went to shop and bought bread for their children. This gave a lie to... Read More
When President Bush visited the Middle East, all the high and mighty flocked to him, Jew and Arab alike. Princes presented him with their priceless swords, presidents and prime ministers drank every word out of his lips, bishops and imams beamed their smiles upon the ruler. They knew why he had flown all over half... Read More
Was it good or bad in Egypt for the people of Israel? The Bible leaves the reader confused. On one hand, they were enslaved and had to built the cities in fear of the brutal overseer’s whip. Exodus 5:7-19 tells that the Pharaoh ceased to provide them with straw to make bricks of (even to... Read More
An Englishman leaves without bidding farewell, a Jew says his farewells but does not leave, says a Jewish joke. This is the case with Israeli withdrawals from Bethlehem, Ramallah and now the grand slam, Gaza disengagement. A fortnight ago, Israeli army left Tul Karem amid fanfares. Newspapers described it a “trust-building measure” the Palestinians have... Read More
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Predicting Europe's Current Refugee Crisis in 2005
IIn the early autumn, when the pomegranates ripen, I embark for the ruins of the destroyed Palestinian village of Saffurie. The native city of Mary’s mother, it still guards the Crusader church of St Anne. This old village was an important city some two thousand years ago, when, under name of Sepphoris, it refused to... Read More
Muslims can’t be respected if a simple come-on like wasting of the Koran works them up into a frenzy, exclaims Jeff Jacoby , and they go around murdering innocent folk; while “decent people”, Catholics, Jews and Buddhists take it easy if “someone has offended their religious sensibilities”. If that were the case, we still may... Read More
or, How to Argue Your Case with Jews
We shall win the war if and when we win the argument. This has been my conviction since 1991, when I witnessed how the mighty nuclear superpower collapsed because they had lost a philosophical dispute. In the battle for Palestine the same rule may apply. Our adversary is protected by mighty Stealth technology made out... Read More
Israel is a good place to watch the giant wave of gentile penitence, the Auschwitz Remembrance Day that lasts for a week, rolling around the globe. Sure, you can observe it everywhere like lunar eclipse, this colossal Canossa: the entire world from Alaska to Antarctica, Inuit and Zulu, Cuban and Mongol stand still listening to... Read More
Quarter of a century ago (time runs fast!), when Israel was far more intimate than it is today, when we did not value privacy and did not know how to spell it, I left my kibbutz in Galilee and moved into a house in Jaffa to share it with few families. Such an arrangement was... Read More
The great leader of Palestine, Yasser Arafat, is dead. This unique man, whose withered body was interned on the Eve of Eid el Fitr in a coffin with the holy soil of Jerusalem in the midst of his ruined fortress, was a symbol of struggle for Palestinian dignity. He will be forever remembered as a... Read More
Noam Chomsky discusses the fate of Sudetenland , while Wehrmacht marches on Champs d’'Elysees. It is Tehran and Paris that are under threat, not Ariel or Maale Adumim.
A new discussion over future of Palestine rages in the Web. Our esteemed friend Noam Chomsky replied[1] to Noah Cohen who called his ‘soft’ position on Palestine ‘Apologetics for Injustice’[2] and was replied in turn by Steve Kowit Weigh[3]. In brief, Chomsky proposes to remove Jewish settlements and to bring forth a Palestinian state, while... Read More
'In Lausanne we have established One Democratic State of Palestine/Israel; today people would laugh when we say so, but in ten years it will become an obvious fact.' I would like to start with this paraphrase of Herzl's famous declaration, mutatis mutandis - for him, it was nearby Basel and a Jewish State, - but... Read More
Reading Chaucer in the Holy Land
"The Palestinian Intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost"- - thus proclaimed the Jewish American columnist Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post (June 18, 2004). Armed resistance has dwindled; there are no attacks on Israeli civilians; the Palestinians have been brought to their knees, thanks to the assassination of Palestinian leadership and to the... Read More
To the north of prosperous Hertzliya, the capital of Israeli high-tech industry with its plentiful sushi-bars, there is a pleasant beach below a steep, almost Pacific bank. It is an unattended shore, without lifeguards, and it is frequented by nature-loving foreigners and the Palestinian families on their outing to the nearby sanctuary of Sidna (Our... Read More
It takes an enemy to eulogise a great warrior. His hurt cry is sweeter than friends’ approval. A few days ago died my great countryman Edward Said, and our comrades-in-arms wrote obituaries tolling like copper bells in the air of his native Jerusalem. They stressed goodness of his heart, expanse of his knowledge, his relentless... Read More
(An Interview given to Mr Kostas Karaiskos, editor of the Greek weekly «Antifonitis» on Partition, the Rise of Jews in Russia, and the duty to resist Zionism) Q: Dear Mr. Shamir, after working for so many years as a writer and journalist, a day came and you surprised all people by your daring, heretic point... 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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
Why a man who supports equality stands for the freedom of speech for extreme right - my response to past and future critics, or "all ideas of Israel Shamir while standing on one leg!"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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.