Taking out history's trash
The ancient Romans reckoned you should say nothing bad about the dead.
On this occasion, I say "Fuck that".
Yitzhak Shamir has died. Obituaries from the Guardian here and from France24 here.
There are some things most of the obituaries don't say. The extent to which Shamir's intransigent expansion of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem proved an obstacle to peace is downplayed in many of the more obsequious hymns of praise. While it is scarcely possible to write a life of Shamir without referring to his background as a terrorist murderer, again, some obits sweep it under the rug or treat it as irrelevant ("So the boy murdered civilians and a UN official, but what a success he went on to make of his life!")
Then again, it was only in the Times (whose website is subscription only: I read the obituary in a print copy) that I found the interesting information that Shamir was Foreign Minister at the time of the Sabra and Chatila massacres, and that he was informed about them while they were taking place but expressed no interest. (Hey, a few thousand dead Arabs. Whatever.) As the Guardian obit pointed out, the Kahan Commission of
What none of the mainstream obituaries I've read mentioned was that at the time when Shamir was rising to a position of power in the Stern Gang, it was actively attempting to forge an alliance with both the Italian Fascists and the German Nazis to oppose the British war effort. See also the Wikipedia entry for the Stern Gang (Lehi). So however tempting it is to compare present-day Israeli policies in many regards to those of the Third Reich, Shamir was quite literally a "Nazionist": a Zionist terrorist working for the victory of the Axis Powers over the Allies. That he later realised he was backing the likely losers and caused the Stern Gang to switch its allegiance to Stalin is hardly cause for breaking out the fatted calf.
On the whole, I find this to be a more appropriate summation of the life of one of the vilest thugs to befoul the planet in my lifetime. And while I am sorry for his family in their loss, I cannot pretend to feel the slightest shred of regret that Shamir is no longer breathing. The world is a much better place with him gone.