One More Lesson From Shamir (COMMENTARY MAGAZINE) Emanuele Ottolenghi 07/02/12)
Commentary Magazine Articles-Index-Top
Jonathan did a great service to our readers in his eulogy of Yitzhak
Shamir. I would like to add one more lesson we, in the West, should
take from this great manís lifelong political career.
Since Shamir left office in 1992, for the last 20 years of his life,
he kept quiet. Politicians and statesmen who lose elections these
days well before their meeting with fate have the tendency to teach
politics to their successors. Think of Jimmy Carter, in America;
Jacques Delors, in Europe; Gareth Evans, in Australia; and Yossi
Sarid or Avrum Burg, in Israel. None of these men had the decency to
confront their political defeat as graciously as Shamir did. None
accepted the ineluctable verdict of the poll as evidence that,
whatever the merit of their convictions, the zeitgeist was against
Shamir did. He withdrew, like his predecessor Menachem Begin, and did
not dispense wisdom or settle scores from the column of a magazine or
the chairmanship of a foundation for the years he was out of office.
And heaven knows he might still have had much to say. But he
understood that a defeated statesman must acknowledge his loss and
graciously withdraw from sight. His silence, for 20 years, is a
testimony to the respect he had for the democratic process and his
profoundly humbling recognition that his time as leader had passed.
This is perhaps his greatest lesson Ė that no leader is
indispensable, that nothing can change or challenge the will of the
people, and that even if time proves a leader right, it is still his
duty, once office is left, to stand aloof and let others steer the
ship of state.
May his memory be for a blessing.
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY