For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Success and Failure

By Israel Shamir

(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 of view. What had really happened? How can an established Jewish writer speak openly about racist Israel, the right of the Palestinians to resist and return, the American crimes in Iraq etc?

A: It is not strange that in the critical moment I stood by my adoptive country, the Holy Land, this delightful and charming sister of Hellas, so similar to Peloponnesus or Crete, the living temple of God, for it was destroyed before our eyes by the mad forces of Sharon. It is strange I kept quiet until recently. But the instinct of self-preservation makes cowards of us all, and besides, Man is optimistic by nature. As long as the child does not cry, we do not pay much attention to his discomfort. As long as the native Palestinians were quiet, one thought: "Well, probably they can manage, and the country can manage".

But the Intifada was a sign that these extremely peaceful and patient people are pushed into slow death, and with them Palestine is going for good. I felt that every bullet shot by the Israeli Army kills my brothers, and every torched olive tree, every razed house, every demolished Church damage the very fabric of our existence. It does not make sense to live if our earth is destroyed, and that is true everywhere. Just objections or critique were not sufficient anymore.

If I were younger, maybe I would join the fighters of Jenin standing fast at assault of the armoured monsters. But writing is also a form of warfare. A writer can emulate a fighter by disregarding mortal danger, by putting his goal above self-preservation. Later I discovered that this war of words is good not only for Palestine, but for my soul as well. Thus, the struggle for Palestine became a spiritual quest for me and for many others.

Q: Your thesis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it can be ended only by the construction of a unified state, with equality for all its citizens. Do you believe that this is more realistic than the two states framework? Which could be the steps for the solution you propose?

Judging by your question, there are separate Israel and Palestine, while Shamir wishes to unite them. But it is not the case. We have 'one state' and practically always had it. Palestine was partitioned for a very short time, from 1948 to 1967, but before and after this break we - the different communities of Palestine - live together in one beautiful country between Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It can't be divided, for it is too small and people live in close quarters with each other. Moreover, without Palestinians, Palestine dies.

Like Cyprus before 1974, we are still one country, and the idea of partition of Palestine is as wrong as that of Cyprus partition. Now, when the communities of Cyprus try to reconcile, we should not promote partition of Palestine. We must learn from others' errors: the partition of Cyprus brought no blessing to the Cypriots, and we should not try it here. The enormous tragedy of Greek - Turkish partition and transfers is a living proof it was a wrong way to solve the problem.

Whenever I travel in the Eastern Mediterranean, I deeply regret that there are no Greeks in Smyrna, no Turks in Thessalonica. In Constantinople, Hagia Sophia and Hagia Irini still remember their Orthodox Past, and the mosques in Rhodes bewail their glory. This tragedy is still with us, for the Greeks were an important and leading element in the Ottoman Empire, this successor of the Byzantines. The Turks were soldiers and shepherds, the Greeks represented state and trade. There is a coin minted in 1455 in Constantinople; its one side is inscribed with legend 'Mehmet, Sultan of the Faithful' in Arabic, and the reverse side is inscribed in Greek, 'Mehmet, the Emperor of the Orthodox'. The Ottoman Empire was like this coin, and under the Turkish warriors and Greek ministers it kept peace and prosperity of the Mediterranean. The West envied its successes and undermined it.

From the Sack of Constantinople in 1204 to Smyrna in 1921, the imperialist West tried to disintegrate our beautiful Eastern Mediterranean and eventually they made it. Out of Greek-Turkish partition, came Mustafa Ataturk, and his policies (for a while) broke the spirit of the Turks, turned them into an American tool, forbade them to worship God and even wear national dress. Greece was subjugated by the British forces for many years. Greeks were the real force in the Empire, while in their independent state they serve Western tourists.

Looking back, one understands that the partition of the Empire was a costly mistake that we all still pay for. Partition of Cyprus, partition of Ireland, partition of India - so many partitions promoted by the imperialist West, and all of them lead to perdition. It is enough. In my view, partition of Palestine should be avoided, while the real problems attended by promoting equality, democracy, love of our country and its spirit. Maybe non-partition of Palestine will be the turning point for mankind.

Q: Vladimir Guzinski, the Russian media baron, was arrested in Athens and is expected to be deported to Russia. Other fabulously rich members of Jewish community are also prosecuted (Berezovsky, Khodorkovski) and others continue to keep good relations with Putin and authorities (Abramovich, Chubais). You have been born and you have worked in Russia, you know the country and its culture. How do you explain the unrestricted power which was gathered in Jewish hands after 1989? Do you believe that Putin is trying to put some limits to their power or he is just rearranging the scene?

A: Rise of the Jews in post-Soviet Russia is one of the most bewildering phenomena. Six out of seven wealthiest men of Russia are Jews, and they are influential in media, banking, in control over natural resources. It is not easy to explain why a Jewish accountant from Tashkent, Chernoy, with monthly salary of one hundred Rouble, became the owner of Russian aluminium industry.

One explanation lies in the religious sphere. The Orthodox Christians are ashamed of being rich. They remember the comparative size of a needle and a camel. They understand that riches rarely come to honest men. They are ashamed of power, for they were told: the last ones here will be among the first there. This quality of Orthodox Christianity was partly inherited by Communism, and that is why Communism was successful in Russia. (It would succeed in Greece, too, but England crushed Communists in post-war Greece).

The unreconstructed Jews and the Calvinists have no such misgivings. They seek power for the Old Testament says, “be a master to your brothers, and they will bow to you”. They believe wealth is a sign of being blessed. That is why they are ready to grasp all there is. On a less religious note, I shall quote Victor Pelevin, a modern Russian writer:
“In tumultuous times, an unscrupulous and cunning man manages better than an honest one for he quickly adapts to the changes. At a certain level of dishonesty and cunning, the man foresees the oncoming changes well in advance, and thus he adapts even faster. The worst rogues adapt themselves to the changes before these changes actually occur. These worst rogues are the engine of change, for they do not foresee the future, but they form it. These unscrupulous, shameless, pushy rogues convince the rest that their forecast is correct, and thus the change occurs”.

In other words, ‘success’ of a group at the expense of others is a sign of their lack of scruples. But in more pragmatic way, the Russian Jews own their success to their close relations with the American Jews. When the US Jews entered the big game of sharing the spoils of Russia, they needed local allies, and the Russian Jews were available for this role. Thus, this prominence of Russian Jews is even worse than it appears, for the prominent ones are extremely pro-American and pro-capitalist. They support Western domination, fight the Russian Orthodox Church, and promote 'modernity', this poisonous mix of CNN, MTV and IMF.

They enjoy support of the important American Jews. Khodorkovsky is defended by such differing and mutually hostile Jewish players as Richard Perle and George Soros. The NY Times (July 23, 2003) reported from Moscow: “When key Washington policy advisor Richard Perle sat down this week for a meeting with leading Russian political analysts, he had an unsolicited word of advice: Lay off Yukos Oil Co., the Russian energy giant locked in a showdown with criminal prosecutors.” (Yukos is Khodorkovsky). Charles Grant, a Soros’ man, wrote: “today, in strict utilitarian terms, Khodorkovsky is a force for good in Russia. He gives direct and indirect support to a range of organisations and individuals that are trying to raise the standards of Russian capitalism, civil society and democracy. He wants to make Russia more western, which in my view is exactly what it needs”.

When Putin moved against Gusinsky, NY Times of Sulzberger called to ‘defend freedom of independent press’, another code-word for the Jewish-owned one, as the NY Times did not defend Zavtra and other opposition media.

But ordinary Jews, or Russians of Jewish origin - and there are millions of such people - are a different story. I meet them, music teachers, journalists, economists; they are normal people, and they reject the New World Order and regret the fall of the Soviet Union. Even oligarchs are only human: Berezovsky was received in the Russian Orthodox Church, married a Russian woman, he supports the national opposition, and who knows? Maybe he changed his ways. The Manichaean approach should be rejected – reality is more complicated than any scheme.