Israel Adam Shamir – biography
Will you ever see this bio, my reader? The chances are not great. Wikipedia controls the bio market; Google delivers Wikipedia’s version to the multitudes. And Wikipedia and Google are controlled by the people I fight against for many years. These guys do not pretend they are fair. My Wiki bio is a hatchet job; plentiful attempts to set the record straight – all failed. There are six full Archive pages of my Wiki bio discussion here, proving that you can’t win in this crooked game. Anyway, provided you want to know who I am, here is a brief record, updated to the first day of 2020 in Jaffa, Israel/Palestine.
Who is Israel Shamir
Israel Shamir (72) is a writer on international affairs, a life-long dissident, a radical spiritual and political thinker, a Biblical and Judaic scholar who writes mainly in English and Russian. His comments on current affairs (in English) are published on The Unz Review, on his own sites www.israelshamir.net and www.israelshamir.com and elsewhere. His books Galilee Flowers, Cabbala of Power, Masters of Discourse are available on the Amazon in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Hungarian etc. His book The Pine and the Olive is available in Russian and French. There are a few collections of his essays published in Russian, French and Spanish.
He is also a prolific scientific and literary translator. He translated and annotated the cryptic works of S.Y. Agnon, the only Hebrew Nobel Prize winning writer, from the original Hebrew into Russian (published and republished from 1973 till 2007). In 2006, his mammoth annotated translation of a Renaissance Hebrew history Sefer Yohassin (The Book of Lineage) into English had been published. He translated a scientific History of Arab-Israeli Wars by Chaim Herzog into Russian. Shamir translated the Odyssey, selected chapters of Joyce’s Ulysses, a modern Israeli writer Gabriel Moked into Russian. In 2016, he published his reconstruction of Genesis, the lost Hebrew original of the Greek 2d c BC translation, the Septuagint.
Israel Shamir is a dissident; he was a dissident in the USSR of his youth, as he called for democracy; he is a dissident in Israel, as he called for full rights for the Palestinians; he is a global dissident as he calls for dismantling the New World Order and the American Empire.
He has three sons; he divides his time between Jaffa, a small Palestinian/Israeli seaside town, St Petersburg in Russia, and a tiny Swedish village in Bergslagen.
Shamir had been born in 1947 in Novosibirsk, Siberia. He moved to Israel in 1969, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war. After the war, he turned to journalism and writing, his first job was with Israel Radio. In 1974, he was in the SE Asia. In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London. In 1977-79 he lived in Japan. After returning to Israel in 1980, Shamir wrote for the Israeli daily newspapers Haaretz and Al Hamishmar, and was the Knesset spokesman for the Israel Socialist Party (Mapam).
In 1989 – 1992 Shamir stayed in Moscow and witnessed the transition of the USSR into post-Soviet chaos. At that time he reported for Haaretz; he was fired for calling for return of Palestinian refugees to their homes in Israel/Palestine. In 1993 he returned to Israel. Palestine, its sad history and enchanting landscape remained his most important subject. His views were summed up in The Pine and the Olive, the story of Palestine/Israel, written in his native Russian and published in 1986 (republished in 2004, 2008, 2011, 2015, 2019 in Russian, twice translated and published in French); it acquired a cult following among the Russian readers. His main thesis: Jews in Israel should live together with native Palestinians and learn from them how to fit into the landscape.
The second Palestinian Intifada had turned Shamir to writing in English. His highly political and poetic pieces centred on Palestine had spread via new-born Internet like wild fire. Shamir proposed a simple solution to the crisis: equality of rights; One Man, One Vote; One State for the whole of Palestine/Israel. This idea had a huge appeal in the US and elsewhere. Upset by this response, the Zionists activated a public campaign against Shamir, calling him “anti-Semite, Holocaust denier, a Swedish neo-Nazi, not a Jew at all”.
The final battle was fought on the Wikipedia site, where they decided to make me a Swedish neo-Nazi impostor, instead of the Israeli writer I really am.
All the time this battle was going on, I lived in my Jaffa house, receiving endless visitors, giving numerous interviews, going to work, seeing people – but I might as well have been dead. I felt like Doc Daneeka, a character in Joseph Heller’s witty Catch-22, who was declared dead as the plane he was supposed to fly was downed. “I am alive!” he shouted. “Here we have a paper saying you are dead”, they replied. His wife “inherited” his property, he was stricken from the lists, they stopped serving him food, and even his friends and comrades looked askance when he appeared. This is the power of an official-looking document – or a webpage blue with hyperlinks. Thus I have learned the dreadful power of an encyclopaedia: it does not reflect the world, but rather creates the world. Wiki is linked to thousands of sites; whether you look at answers.com or at an Arab English-language site, you’ll be led to Wiki with its lies.
If an encyclopaedia says I am a Swedish neo-Nazi antisemite, nothing can change it. I could scream all day long: “Look, here I am, in Jaffa” but they would reply: “Here we have an official paper saying that you are not”. If tomorrow they decide to make you a little green man from Mars, they will succeed, too. And then, even your friends will look behind your back for your flying saucer.
In 2002 he was received in the Orthodox Christian Church of Jerusalem and Holy Land, being baptised Adam by Archbishop Theodosius Attalla Hanna. He wrote about this event:
[I am] a member of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, for though born a Jew, by the Grace of Christ I was baptised this year in its wonderful ancient cathedral of Mar Yakoub, the old see of St James, the brother of our Lord and the first Bishop of Jerusalem. It is adjacent to Golgotha and to the great Church of the Resurrection, and it is the home church of the local Arab-speaking Palestinian Orthodox community. I was baptized in the old deep octagonal Byzantine font that so many saints and bishops of the Holy City were baptized in. My skin still feels the touch of olive oil and myrrh, soft, supple, fragrant, though it was more than a year ago.
I was anointed before the full immersion, and the water in the font also felt like precious olive oil, this main substance of the Holy Land. I was brought into the church by the Archimandrite Attalla Hanna, Father Theodosius, the highest-ranking native Palestinian priest of the Mother Church, who was released from his captivity. Instead of Israel, the father of Jews, I was given the name of Adam, the father of all men. It was midday when I stepped out into the atrium, feeling like a groom in his wedding day, and was met by the bells of the Holy Redeemer. It reminded me of this dream of Theodore Herzl, to bring the Jews into Church on midday with all bells a-ringing. The monks and parish folk blessed me ‘mabruk’ and indeed I feel myself much blessed to join my Palestinian brothers and sisters in their church.
In 2010-12, Shamir collaborated with Wikileaks.
Since then, he writes in English and in Russian; his English language pieces are published on Unz.com, his Russian language pieces are published on RT.com and on KP.ru.
Family and Childhood
Shamir originated in a traditional liberal Jewish family. They were Galician Hasidic on his father’s side, and Litvak Mitnagdim on his mother’s side.
His great-grand father lived and died in Tiberias, Palestine. His son, a Rabbi, established synagogues in Trondheim, Norway and in Stockholm, Sweden.
Shamir’s grandfather was a Professor of Mathematics.
Shamir’s mother Esther (95) lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank; she was an activist of Israeli nationalist party, after being a known refusenik and a Zionist activist. Her brother Julius, Shamir’s uncle, was a celebrated soldier in the World War Two and the chief editor of a literary magazine.
Shamir’s father Joseph, a native of Brno, a member of Hashomer Hatzair socialist Zionist movement, found himself in the USSR after the beginning of WW2. In 1948, he volunteered to go to Israel to fight in the first Arab-Jewish war, and his letter to the Soviet authorities containing this request had been published. In 1950-1955 he was imprisoned in Gulag, and died in 1959.
Shamir graduated in the prestigious and highly selective School of Physics and Mathematics at Novosibirsk State University in the Academgorodok near Novosibirsk; participated in the dissident movement and in the underground Zionist activities. He read Law for three years, but had been dismissed for his campaign on behalf of Andrei Sakharov. Consequently, he had left the USSR for Israel.
After immigration, he read Law and International Relations in Hebrew University of Jerusalem and reported for Israel Radio. Still a young man, he joined the Israeli army; he volunteered for the paratroopers, and fought in 1973 war, at first against Egypt. His unit had been dropped behind the enemy’s lines, took Jebel Ataqah and the “kilometre 101” position, on the Cairo-Suez highway. They reached the nearest to Cairo position conquered by Israelis, and a location of Israeli-Egyptian negotiations. After the agreed disengagement, Shamir’s unit had been transferred to the Syrian front, to the so-called “enclave” at 40 km from Damascus.
The enclave was in front of northern Golan, with a width of 20 kilometres (12 mi) and a total area of 400 square kilometres (150 sq mi). The area consisted of many small Syrian villages as well as volcanic cone and the top of Hermon mountain. The enclave was at a distance of 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Damascus.
He served there until the disengagement and the end of the war.
After the war, Shamir was politically active in the Israeli Far Left, and supported Tekhelet-Adom, Moked, Ratz and Mapam; thus he was probably the only ex-Soviet dissident who became a dissident in Israel, too.
In 1974, Shamir had left Israel for SE Asia, where he reported from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In 1975 he joined the BBC, and lived in London for two years; in 1977 – 1979 lived in Japan, and after that, in 1980 he came back to Israel and served as the Mapam parliamentary group spokesman, while writing for Al HaMishmar and Haaretz. At that time, Shamir discovered for himself Palestine and Palestinians, and he wrote The Pine and the Olive (1986), the story of his travels riding his donkey among Palestinian villages.
First Intifada with its huge Palestinian casualties shocked him; he went to Russia, and witnessed the rapid changes from the Soviet to post-Soviet regime. He was greatly disappointed with the developments. He wanted Russia to become free and democratic; but he didn’t expect that the people will be robbed, and sophisticated fabric of Soviet life would disappear. He wrote a sequel to the Animal Farm, a story Noam Chomsky warmly welcomed. That was the beginning of his friendship with the Massachusetts professor.
With the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2001, Shamir began writing in English for international audience, proving himself a idiosyncratic writer with deep understanding of the undercurrents.
Israel Shamir had denied the very existence of irrational primordial antisemitism of Gentiles. He thinks Jewry exists, and Jewish politics do exist; which is a common platitude for an Israeli and a forbidden thought for people outside of Israel. He thinks that Jewish politics aren’t always beneficial for ordinary people, Jews and non-Jews alike. He thinks that Israel, the Jewish state, is the quintessence of the Judaic attitudes in its positive and negative aspects. He supported assimilation, mixed marriages, conversion as legitimate choice of a person, while those choices had been condemned by the dominant Jewish discourse.
Desiring to marginalise Shamir, his enemies described him as a “Holocaust Denier”, which is a crime in Israel and some other countries. He always rejected this culpable accusation. Shamir denied – not the Holocaust, but the cult of Holocaust that came to inherit the place of religion in Israel and in the West. Shamir wrote: “I do deny its religious salvific significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness, I do deny the morbid cult of Holocaust and I think every God-fearing man, a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should reject it as Abraham rejected and smashed idols.”
Israel Shamir rejected the concept of ‘genocide’, invented in 1945. He wrote against such ideas as Armenian, Ukrainian, Cambodian ‘genocide’. He rejected the narrative of Gulag and of ‘millions killed by Stalin’.
Shamir called for al-Awda, for return of Palestinian refugees to Israel/Palestine. They and their children should be allowed to return and to receive citizenship of Israel/Palestine. However, he is not in favour of massive restitution, as too long time had passed since their uprooting. He certainly does not call for uprooting of Israelis, Jews or non-Jews.
Shamir was a journalist associated with the Wikileaks. He had access to the State Department cables connected to the ex-USSR and some other areas. In his publications of the cables, done mainly via the Russian Reporter and the Komsomolskaya Pravda, in Russian and in the Counterpunch.com in English, he tried to counteract the sly ways of publication as done by the Guardian and the NY Times.
He wrote: “The Guardian edits and distorts the cables in order to protect their readers from unflattering remarks about how their corporations behave overseas. The Guardian has deliberately excised portions of published cables to hide evidence of corruption”. More on the liberal media distortion of the Wikileaks message is here.
A Progressive Agenda
Shamir wrote warmly and positively about Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Vietnam and other countries attacked by the US-led Empire. He supported Jeremy Corbyn. In Israel, Shamir called to vote for the Communists. In Russian context, he supported Mr Grudinin vs Mr Putin.
Shamir approved of Russian involvement in Syria, regretted the 2014 coup in the Ukraine.
However, Shamir is not an orthodox Leftist, for he called for close liaison between Far Right and Far Left against the liberal Centre. He is definitely against identity politics and gender activism, racial diversity and mass immigration. As opposed to Establishment Left, he never wrote against China, Iran, Putin’s Russia, Taliban etc. He strongly dislikes Interventionist Left and Right. And he is not a supporter of secularism. Shamir believes in Christian Communism, with full recognition of Tradition and sympathy to the Church.
Peace, not War
Shamir is a supporter of peace movement; he called for dismantling NATO after dismantlement of the Warsaw Treaty, for peace between Russia, the US and China; against the US aggression in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Despite having definite views, Shamir believes it is his duty to report truth, and the whole truth as far as he can grasp it. He does not want to manipulate the reader, and always leaves him the last option.