Stand back and take it all in
Yitzchak Shamir
Acrylic on canvas
1 x 1m (39.37 x 39.37 inch)

Yitzchak Shamir

יצחק שמיר
1915 - 2012

Yitzchak Shamir was born Yizhak Yzernitzky in Ruzinoy, Poland in 1915. He lost his parents and two sisters to the Holocaust. At age 20, he left his law studies in Warsaw for Mandatory Palestine, enrolling in the Hebrew University. When the British began restricting Jewish immigration in 1937, he joined the underground resistance group Irgun but broke away three years later to join Avraham Stern’s Lehi group, sharing in its leadership. Lehi was more militant than Irgun, itself more militant that the Haganah. He was arrested by the British twice, but escaped both times. After the latter he moved to France for political asylum. Back in Mandatory Palestine in 1948, he again took up arms with Lehi, but with the establishment of the State, Shamir ventured into commercial interests. Several years later he joined Israel’s security services, rising to senior positions in Mossad. He left to pursue other opportunities as well as to campaign to free Soviet Jewry. In 1970 he joined Menachem Begin’s Herut party and joined its executive. Three years later he was elected a member of Knesset, where he was active for 23 years in various capacities including Speaker (1977). When Menachem Begin resigned in 1983, Shamir became Prime Minister for a year until general elections. The results led to a power sharing agreement with Labor, where he served under Shimon Peres for two years, before taking over the reigns from 1986 to 1992. In this time, Israel absorbed 450 000 Soviet immigrants and in 1991, rescued 15 000 Ethiopian Jews in a stunning airlift known as Operation Solomon.