Yair Shamir, the Chairman of Israel Aircraft Industries, and the son of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, who stood up to George H. W. Bush in 1988-92, has some advice for Prime Minister Netanyahu: ‘Just say no.’
It is no secret that during President George Bush, Sr. there were sharp disagreements between my father, then prime minister Yitzchak Shamir. But Shamir succeeded – due to the respect he earned by his principle-driven defiance and by leveraging the clout of the U.S. Congress. Thus, irrespective of President Bush’s objection, he received $650 million in special assistance, $700 million worth of military systems, a considerable expansion of American ammunition prepositioned in Israel, enhancement of Israel-U.S. counter-terrorism cooperation, upgrading the Haifa port for the use of 6th Fleet (which yielded $1 million daily revenues) and a breakthrough access by Israel’s defense industries to Pentagon repair, maintenance and refurbishing bids in Europe, etc. – in addition to annual foreign aid.
These achievements were acquired despite the fierce opposition by Bush to Shamir’s policies, but because of Shamir’s steadfastness and recognition of the stature of the US Legislature.
Nothing illustrates this better than Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s words in his dedication to the book “Yitzchak Shamir: Firm as A Rock”: “During President George Bush’s (the father) term in office, while I was serving as the IDF’s Chief-of-Staff, I was once summoned to the Prime Minister’s Office to meet with then US Secretary of State James Baker who had been demanding that Israel make far-reaching concessions. Upon the request of Shamir, I briefed our prominent guest with the range of military threats that is facing Israel. Baker did not retract his demands. Instead, carrying the weight of the only superpower leading the free world today, he insisted that Israel concede. Shamir’s face became very tense and alert, it looked like a volcano about to explode. He banged on the table and told the secretary of state in a very blunt and undiplomatic manner, in a very sharp but self-controlled tone: ‘Mr. Secretary, you can demand what you choose to demand but this is our country and we will not agree to do anything that will harm its interests and future even if demanded by our best friend.”
My father’s refusal to budge from his principles did not lead to a round of applause and praise in the media, but it elicited respect for the man and improved Israel’s national security. His heritage forewarns Israeli prime ministers to stand up to pressure and not to consider American pressure a reason to relinquish their vision and strategic goal, which would erode Israel’s power of deterrence in the Middle East and in the corridors of power in Washington, DC.
Read the whole thing (.doc link). If only Bibi had a tenth of Shamir’s courage….
Benny Begin: “Peace” with the Pals. impossibleHe spells out why in this fine, lucid, irrefutable op-ed. So that makes three. That is, in recent weeks three members of Netanyahu’s inner cabinet of seven–Avigdor Lieberman, Moshe Yaalon, and now Benny Begin–have come out of the closet and explained why they don’t see peace with the Pals. as a possibility for the foreseeable future. The remaining members of the cabinet–Eli Yishai, generally sensible; Dan Meridor, iffy; Ehud Barak, generally not sensible; Netanyahu himself. Will sense prevail? It doesn’t matter. As Yitzhak Shamir once said, “The Arabs will save us.”