Israel Shamir (Russian: Исраэль Шамир; born 1947), also known by the names Jöran Jermas and Adam Ermash, is a Russian writer and journalist. He is a commentator on Arab–Israeli relations and Jewish culture. Originally from Novosibirsk, Siberia, Shamir says that he moved to Israel in 1969. He says that he served in the 1973 war, after which he took up journalism and writing.
Shamir writes about Israel, Palestine, and the Jewish people, and has published or self-published a number of books that have been translated into several languages; the French edition of Flowers of Galilee (2004) was banned for a time in France over allegations of antisemitism. Shamir has been accused of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, charges he has rejected.
Background and personal life
Shamir says that he is a Russian-born Jew who converted to Orthodox Christianity. He was known at birth as Izrail Schmerler. In the article "Jews in the Soviet Union" according to the Shorter Jewish Encyclopedia I. Schmerler (Shamir) was born in 1948. Shamir says that he was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia, in 1947. According to him, he read mathematics and law at Novosibirsk University. He moved to Israel in 1969, and states that he served as paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, and fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. After the war he says that he returned to his study of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but then abandoned this in favour of a career in journalism.
Norman Finkelstein is quoted by Tablet magazine article "His Jewish Problem" as saying of Shamir: "He has invented his entire personal history. Nothing he says about himself is true". Manfred Ropschitz in the Independent Media Center article writes that "For twenty years the Jewish Israeli journalist Israel Shamir has been living a double life as a Swede called Jöran Jermas".
According to Searchlight, which describes him as a "Swedish anti-semite", Shamir was registered in Sweden in 1984 and later gained Swedish citizenship, in 1992. He left Sweden for Russia and then Israel in 1993, before returning in 1998, having remarried in Israel in July 1994. However, others argue that Swedish files show that he was married in Sweden. He was known as Jöran Jermas from 2001 to 2005, before changing his name to Adam Ermash, although continuing to use "Israel Shamir" as a penname. According to Shamir, these name changes were necessary "in order to safeguard my private life and to manage to travel without harassments from political adversaries."
On his website, Shamir states that, after dropping out of law studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem some time after the Yom Kippur War, he took up journalism and writing. He says that he was initially a journalist for Israel Radio, before becoming a freelance journalist, and covered the latter stages of the war in South East Asia (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia). He says that he joined the BBC in 1975, moving to London, before moving to Japan (1977–79), writing for Maariv and others. In 1980 he says that he returned to Israel, and says that he wrote for Haaretz.
After a career in journalism, Shamir says that he focused on other writing, particularly translation. Shamir states that he translated various works of Shmuel Yosef Agnon (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1966) from Hebrew into Russian (1981–2004), as well as Chaim Herzog's The Arab-Israeli Wars (1986). Other works he says that he translated include a 2006 annotated translation of Abraham Zacuto's 15th century history of the Jews, Sefer Hayuhasin (The Book of Lineage). With the outbreak of the First Intifada in 1987 Shamir says that he went to Russia and wrote about the political changes until 1993, for newspapers including Pravda and the extreme nationalist Zavtra,whose author, Alexander Prokanov, is connected with the extreme anti-Semite David Duke.
Shamir writes about Israel, Palestine, and the Jewish people. Several of his books have been translated into a range of languages. Shamir did not publish in English until January 2001, after the beginning of the Palestinian Second Intifada in September 2000. As he put it, "Israeli attacks on Palestinians forced him to give up literature and turn to politics." An article in the Russian-language Israeli newspaper Vesti was cited by Christopher Hitchens in 2001 as "a brilliant reply to [Elie] Wiesel".
The French edition of Shamir's Flowers of Galilee was initially co-published in October 2003 by Éditions Blanche and Éditions Balland, and was prominently displayed in large bookshops. It was withdrawn from sale at the end of October after Balland's director had his attention drawn to the content of the book, which he considered anti-semitic. The book was republished in 2004 by Éditions Al-Qalam, which led to a court case (a civil case brought by the Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l'antisémitisme [LICRA]), with the publisher sentenced to three months in prison (suspended) and a 10,000-euro fine, and the banning of the book. 
Shamir has made statements opposing both Zionism and Judaism, and is a supporter of the proposed one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Shamir has argued that there is organized Jewish control of the media and public discourse: "The rich Jews buy media so it will cover up their (and their brethren's) misdeeds. The Jews in the media are giving protection to the rich Jews. ... In the US, even in Western Europe, no view can be proposed to the general public unless approved (after being vetted and corrected) by a Jewish group." He is critical of what he considers a Jewish quest for world hegemony, having written, "Palestine is not the ultimate goal of the Jews; the world is. Palestine is just the place for world state headquarters; necessary, for otherwise the people of Europe wouldn't be magnetised like a rabbit in the headlights of a car."
In 2001, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish circulated an email in which they said that "from early on, some of Shamir's writings struck us as straying beyond criticism of Israel and Zionism, and crossing into the territory of implicit anti-Semitism". They urged "all our friends in the movement for Palestinian rights" to consider the effects of Shamir's writing, which includes "elements of traditional European anti-Semitic rhetoric", on their cause.
He has been accused of being an antisemite and Holocaust denier, with Searchlight in 2004 accusing him of connections to antisemitic publications and groups, and its campaign Hope not Hate at one time listing Shamir as a "notable Holocaust denier," citing the "rabid Holocaust denial material" on his website. Essays supporting the tenets of Holocaust denial, such as the alleged non-existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz, are posted on Shamir's personal website. In February 2005 Labour life peer Nazir Ahmed held a book launch for Shamir in the House of Lords. Commenting on the event, Stephen Pollard in The Times, called him a "rabid anti-Semite." Shamir rejected the accusations, and Gilad Atzmon wrote to The Times in his defence.
David Irving was sentenced for denial of Jewish superiority. His doom seals the reign of (albeit limited) freedom that began with the fall of Bastille. European history went full circle: from rejecting the rule of Church and embracing free thought, to the new Jewish mind-control on a world scale. Not only is Western Christian civilisation dead, but even its successor, secular European civilisation, has met its demise only a few days after its proud and last celebration by the Danish scribes. It was short-lived: about two hundred years from beginning to the end, the Europeans may once have had the illusion that they can live without an ideological supremacy. Now this illusion is over; and the Jews came in the stead of the old and tired See of St Peter to rule over the minds and souls of Europeans.
Shamir was also accused in connections with extremist groups in Europe. The Times of London had reported that in September 1998 a radical Russian group tried to sell Nazi items from WW2 that were released from Soviet archives. The group's representative in Western Europe was Shamir who tried to make contact with David Irving on the subject of purchasing those items. Irving didn't respond to Shamir and published a letter in which he stated that those items and documents are stolen and therefore whoever selling them is doing so against German and Russian law. Irving also reported about Shamir's proposal to the German authorities and neglected further attempts from Shamir to make contact with him.
In 2006, discussing the upcoming Iranian International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, Deutsche Welle wrote that the Iranian government "said it intended to invite academics such as German neo-Nazi [lawyer] Horst Mahler and the Israeli journalist and Christian convert Israel Shamir, both of whom are Holocaust deniers." Shamir denied receiving an invitation to the conference, and said he did not attend. Shamir wrote of his interest in the conference, concluding that "Nobody – and I do mean nobody, including British, French, American, German, Russian leaders – really cares about the victims of a war long past, Jewish or otherwise; they pay tribute to the Holocaust as nations pay tribute to their vanquisher." The widespread acceptance of the Holocaust narrative "as a justification of [rich and powerful] minority rights over [oppressed] majority needs", Shamir argued, showed "that the mass media machine is well integrated and concentrated in philosemitic, mostly Jewish hands. The occupation of Palestine by Jews is painful, but it is not more harmful than this captivity of free discourse."
In December 2010 Shamir's connection with WikiLeaks brought him new public attention. Andrew Brown of The Guardian repeated the accusations of antisemitism, relying on Magnus Ljunggren's piece that month in Expressen. Shamir responded to Ljunggren, saying "the stories he tells are all lies. And these lies are old and well known and refuted years ago." Katha Pollitt, writing in The Nation in December 2010, described a visit to Shamir's web site:
I spent a few hours on www.israelshamir.net and learned that: "the Jews" foisted capitalism, advertising and consumerism on harmonious and modest Christian Europe; were behind Stalin's famine in Ukraine; control the banks, the media and many governments; and that "Palestine is not the ultimate goal of the Jews; the world is." There are numerous guest articles by Holocaust deniers, aka "historical revisionists."
"As for the accusation of 'Holocaust denial', my family lost too many of its sons and daughters for me to deny the facts of Jewish tragedy, but I do deny its religious salvific significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness, I do deny the morbid cult of Holocaust and I think every God-fearing man, a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should reject it as Abraham rejected and smashed idols."
Shamir claims his concern with the Holocaust is with the use of the narrative of the Holocaust by Jews to promote Jewish "superiority and exclusivity":
It has everything to do with the Jewish claim of superiority and exclusivity. There is a Jewish prayer saying: “Bless you, Lord, that you created me a Jew, that you separated between Jews and the earth folks, like you separated between the Holy and Profane, that our fate is not like their fate”. The Holocaust concept is just another form of this prayer. They say that even their death is not like the death of anybody else.
In a May 2011, Tablet magazine described Shamir as a "Holocaust doubter". The article includes a transcript of an interview in which Shamir repeatedly refuses to acknowledge the mass annihilation at Auschwitz.
"New Cambodia (or Kampuchea, as it was called) under Pol Pot and his comrades was a nightmare for the privileged, for the wealthy and for their retainers; but poor people had enough food and were taught to read and write. As for the mass killings, these are just horror stories, averred my Cambodian interlocutors. Surely the victorious peasants shot marauders and spies, but many more died of American-planted mines and during the subsequent Vietnamese takeover, they said..... Noam Chomsky assessed that the death toll in Cambodia may have been inflated "by a factor of a thousand." .... To me, this recalls other CIA-sponsored stories of Red atrocities, be it Stalin's Terror or the Ukrainian Holodomor....It is fine that they canceled money, dynamited banks and sent bankers to plant rice. It is fine that they dried up the great blood-sucking leech, the big-city compradors and money-lenders."
In 2013, CounterPunch published an article titled "Russia, Syria and the Decline of American Hegemony" in which Shamir argued:
"The shutdown of their government and possible debt default gave the Americans something real to worry about. With the end of US hegemony, the days of the dollar as the world reserve currency are numbered.
World War III almost occurred as the banksters wished it. They have too many debts, including the unsustainable foreign debt of the US. If those Tomahawks had flown, the banksters could have claimed Force Majeure and disavow the debt. Millions of people would die, but billions of dollars would be safe in the vaults of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs."
Association with WikiLeaks
Shamir is a vocal backer of the WikiLeaks organization. In a Sveriges Radio interview with WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, Hrafnsson stated that Israel Shamir "is associated with" WikiLeaks, as are "a lot of journalists that are working with us all around the world" who "have different roles in working on [the] project". Russian Reporter claims that it has "privileged access" to the 2010 United States diplomatic cables leak via Shamir. Shamir described his relation with WikiLeaks as being "a freelancer who was 'accredited' to WikiLeaks".
Former Wikileaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg noted Wikileaks' ties to Shamir among the reasons he quit the organization. Domscheit-Berg described Shamir as a "famous Holocaust denier and anti-Semite."
Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times alleged that Shamir concocted a cable which allegedly quoted European Union diplomats' plans to walk out of the Durban II speech by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for publication in the pro-Putin Russian Reporter in December 2010, an accusation which was rejected by Shamir.
Shamir has also been accused of passing "sensitive cables" to the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Index on Censorship has expressed concern that such an event could physically endanger Lukashenko's political opponents; Wikileaks has refused to reply to Index on the issue, although one Wikileaks representative called Shamir's alleged leaks "obviously unapproved."
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Israel Shamir supports Wikileaks, agrees with its ideas and admires its head, Julian Assange.
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Domscheit-Berg also said Assange had worrying ties to people of dubious character, such as the Sweden-based Holocaust denier Israel Shamir, whom Assange allegedly wanted to let work with WikiLeaks under a false name so as to not attract unwanted attention.
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