Born in a shtetl in what is now Belarus in 1915, Yitzḥak Shamir came to the Land of Israel in 1935, where he later joined the underground Zionist group known as the Leḥi and was eventually imprisoned by the British mandatory authorities. After Israeli independence, he served for several years in the Mossad before entering politics. He held the post of prime minister from 1983 to 1984, and again from 1986 to 1992, leading the nation during the first intifada, the Iraqi Scud-missile attacks of the Persian Gulf war, and the Madrid peace talks with the Palestinians. Although Shamir, who died in 2012, is remembered in a positive light by large numbers of Israelis, he is much less admired by journalists and academics.
Erez Fridman and Igal Lerner, who have recently released a documentary about Shamir, discuss his legacy with his son Yair Shamir, the historian Martin Kramer, and the marketing executive Noa Cacharel. Among much else, they highlight the role of Israel’s seventh prime minister in cultivating peace with Jordan, in orchestrating the Russian aliyah, and in transforming the Jewish state into the start-up nation. (Moderated by Naomi Reinharz. Video, 62 minutes.)