«Jewish Observer»
April 2002
5762 Nisan

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The guide, interpreter, journalist and writer Israel Shamir was born in Novosibirsk in 1947. He studied at the Novosibirsk University at the department of mathematics at first, then at the department of law. In the late 1960s he was an active participant of the Zionist movement. In 1968 he protested against the USSR intervention into Czechoslovakia and a year later emigrated to Israel. Here he served in the army in paratrooper units and participated in the war of 1973. After the army he continued his studies of law at the Jewish University in Jerusalem.

As the Israel radio correspondent he worked in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other countries. In 1975 Shamir moved to London to work in the BBC Russian service. In 1977 - 1979 he worked in Japan on the invitation of the Japanese radio.

On returning to Israel in 1980 Shamir actively took to the political activity. He became a press-secretary of the Israeli socialist party "Mapam" and a correspondent of the "Gaarets" newspaper. His translations of Agnon and Joice were published in Moscow, Tel-Aviv, New-York.

In 1989-1993 he worked in Russia as the "Gaarets" correspondent. During that time he published his scandal articles in the newspapers "Pravda" and "Den" ("Zavtra") and the "Nash Sovremennik" magazine. The writer sharply condemned President Eltsin and his aides for the shelling of the White House in Moscow. Soon after that he became the member of the Writers' Union of Russia on the recommendation of Lev Anninsky and Stanislav Hungaev, the writers who greatly differ from each other.

In 1993 Israel Shamir returned to Israel. He writes articles for the newspapers in Russian in Israel and in Russia, cooperates with literary magazines.

During merry Tel-Aviv's nights among motley pedestrians on Allenbi and in overcrowded restaurants where pleased Israelis enjoy themselves I see an angel in a camouflage uniform writing three words on the wall "Mene, tekel, ufarsin". My angel - Russian dictionary translates these words as follows: "We have tested you on meanness, and you have failed to pass it".

The people of Israel is experiencing hard times because all speeches, tears and complaints by our fathers and ourselves have turned out as true as a three-dollar note. In 1968 I used to write on the walls of my native Akademgorodok the following, "Hands off Czechoslovakia!". The Jewish poet Alexandre Galich was singing in a fine low voice, "Citizens, our Motherland is in danger! Our tanks are in other country!" Several Jews appeared on the Red Square with this slogan and were pretty battered by the militia. Galich, Daniel, Guinsburg, Golomshtok meant Russian tanks in Prague. Time has passed. Now our, Jewish, tanks are in other land. They are not simply stationed there - they kill peaceful population, destroy houses, blockade and make millions of people starve. One may think that many Jewish intellectuals would come onto our equivalent of the Red Square. Not at all. Our singers glorify the valor of our Jewish sniper, great humanism of the Jewish people who could turn all non-Jews of Palestine into a stuffing but restrict themselves with only several hundreds of the wounded a day.

The fighters for human rights, such as Anatoly Scharansky, fought against the residence permit institution like our grandfathers had fought against the Pale of Settlement. After the victory they drove non-Jews into reservations comparing to which the Pale of Settlement is a synonym to an open society. A Palestinian has no right to visit even the neighboring villages without permission, a search and document checking. He can't even dream of a trip to the seaside several kilometers away from his home.

The Jews protested against the discrimination at work and higher institutions. They themselves have created now the system of total national discrimination. Among 13.000 employees of our "State Electric Company" there are only 6 non-Jews. This is 0,0004%! Non-Jews constitute 40 percent of the country population from Jordan to the sea, but only every fourth of them has the right to vote. There is not a single non-Jew in the Supreme Court, government, Army Headquarters, aviation, among the leadership of the secret service. There are no non-Jews even in the editorial board of the Israeli main newspaper "Gaarets".

That's why everything talked by the Jews in Russia should be rewritten in the light of the subsequent events. We were struggling for human rights - but only for the rights of a Jew. We were for the freedom of movement and choice of professions - but only for the Jews. We are not against our tanks being sent to other land, we were only against Russian tanks. When we see a poor child raising hands in front of a tommy-gunner we are confused only by this being a Jewish child. The non-Jewish children may be shot and killed to one's heart content. When Byalik wrote, "The devil didn't invent a due revenge for the murder of a child", he, probably, meant only a Jewish child. When he saw the terrifying pogrom scenes, he was horrified by the pogrom being directed against the Jews.

The air-raids of battle helicopters against a peaceful and defenseless town of Bet Jallu became an awesome massacre.

Over one hundred years in tsarist Russia less people were killed than we kill over a week. In the course of the most awful Kishinev pogrom 45 people were killed and 600 were wounded. In Israel over the recent days 150 people have been killed and 4000 - wounded. After the pogrom in Russia hundreds of honest people, writers and intelligentsia came out against the pogrom participants. In Israel only several tens of people hardly gathered in Tel-Aviv for the demonstration of protest, whereas the Writers' supported the pogrom makers.

Walk along the most fashionable quarters of Jerusalem - Talbiya, old Katamon, Greek and German Sloboda. All these palaces used to belong to the non-Jews - German, Armenians, Greeks, Palestinians - to the Orthodox and Muslims. They were taken away from those people and given to the Jews. During the last weeks hundreds of hectares of land have been confiscated from non-Jews, tens of houses have been destroyed. The Gibraltar Jewish magnate Gusinsky arrived to support us in our struggle. He has quite recently appealed to the world community for support when Russia was trying to liberate the Russian television from his claws. His support of Israel shows that Gusinsky approves property's confiscation and arrests on the ethnic grounds. He is only against the confiscation of the Jewish belongings. He is against the Jews being put to jail - non-Jews may spend tens of years behind the bars without a trial, which is the case in the Jewish state.

Within the shortest time we managed to frustrate age-long efforts of Jews in the sphere of democracy, human rights, struggle for equality. What, properly speaking, did we dislike in the German Nazis? Racism? We have it on a no smaller scale. The Jerusalem Russian newspaper "Pryamaya Rech" has conducted a poll among Russian Jews on their attitude to the Palestinians. "All Arabs should be killed", "We should drive Arabs away from here, close the gates behind them and attach a padlock". "An Arab is an Arab and they should be crashed". I am not sure a poll in Germany, say, in 1938 would have provided such vivid results. We shall, consequently, put it in the following way: we were against racism until it was directed against us. We were against Nazism until it was Nazism of others. However, our Jewish punishers evoke only exultation. Don't worry, this will not concern you: our hangmen are acting according to paragraph 5.

We were against ghetto when we were driven into it. At present, even the most "liberal" Jewish plan envisages the creation of several ghettos for non-Jews, the ghettos encircled by a barbed wire with tanks along the perimeter and a Jewish plant near the fence. The non-Jews will be able to experience there whether "Arbeit macht frei" is true. We shall give full independence to these ghettos, but prior to that we shall take away all sources of existence from them.

After the angel has written his menacing words, after the Prophet has called on the people of Israel to repent, we have only two ways to go. We can repent, like the inhabitants of Ninevia did, give away the property of others, make everybody equal, put an end to the discrimination and killings and rely on God's forgiveness. We may continue our atrocities, like the inhabitants of Sodom did, and get prepared for the current of fire and sulphur from the outraged skies of Palestine.


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