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The Death of a Jewish Terrorist

16/07/2012

Yitzhak Shamir has died. In Mandatory Palestine he was a Jewish terrorist who headed the Stern Gang which fought the British. In later life he was an agent of the Mossad, and from 1983 to 1984 and 1986 to 1992 he served as Israel’s prime minister.

Shamir was a true right-wing politician of the old school. Unlike legendary right-wing leaders such as Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, who as prime ministers withdrew from the Sinai and Gaza Strip, respectively, Shamir never regarded territorial compromise as a way to achieve peace with Arabs and Palestinians.

I’ve interviewed Yitzhak Shamir a few times, most notably for the six-part BBC television documentary The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs (see picture). I recall asking him to move his chair a little bit to the left so that he would be positioned just in front of the camera. “To the left”, he uttered, “never”.