SUMMING UP: An Autobiography by Yitzhak with Rinna Samuel Shamir

SUMMING UP: An Autobiography

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With freelance writer Samuel, the former prime minister of Israel describes the context in which he developed his political views but reveals little new about himself. The gruff and taciturn Shamir was considered an interim prime minister after Menachem Begin stunned Israel with his sudden resignation in 1983; but Shamir survived attacks from within his own Likud party and from the opposition Labor Party for nine years. By the time voters finally forced him from office in 1992, Shamir was described as one of the best players ever in the rough-and-tumble of Israeli politics. In this autobiography, we learn a great deal about Shamir's staunch right-wing politics and the reasons his government spent billions solidifying the Israeli hold over the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. We learn far less about Shamir the man, who uses his life story as a polemic. He draws lessons in support of hard-line Zionist militancy from his youth in Poland; from his family's murder by the Nazis; and from his years as an operative in the most violent wing of the Mandate-era anti-British Jewish underground and, later, as an agent in the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. This is not a kind book. Shamir criticizes fellow rightists who don't share his views, and he characterizes his lifelong fight with opponents to the left as a ""dispute between those who believed in the immediate gain and were...willing to settle for the least and those who believed that they were responsible to future generations and hold out for the most."" He remains closed-mouthed about his clandestine years, only justifying in some detail his already-known involvement in two celebrated political murders of the 1940s: of Britain's Lord Moyne and the UN's Count Bernadotte. A useful tool for opponents of the land-for-peace policies of the current Israeli government, but less useful to students of Israeli history or of Yitzhak Shamir.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1994
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"