2011-02-03 Sources on Israel Shamir

The sources of the Shamir controversy.

Recent writing about Shamir in connection to Wikileaks has been unduly polemical, preferring to telescope conclusions through the use of inflammatory and judgmental language. The matter at hand is certainly, and understandably, an inflammatory matter. But it will be necessary, for the sake of clarity, to examine the evidence with a certain emotional restraint. Judgment should be the consequence of critical thinking and reading, not its antecedent. In proper reportage, moral condemnation is not necessary: a deed speaks for itself.

The earliest controversy over Shamir I can trace follows on from his marginal success as an advocate of the pro-Palestine lobby, in the early years of the decade. Interestingly, at this time, he was even quoted by Christopher Hitchens, in The Nation. The discussions over this are conducted with more restraint than the recent ones, and are therefore more informative. I refer the reader to Shamir's correspondences with Ali Abunimah & Hussein Ibish over his views, compiled on Nigel Parry's site. Shamir's response is in his characteristic, ad hominem style.


In late 2000/early 2001, in the period following the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada, articles began appearing on the Internet by a previously unknown Israeli-Russian writer called "Israel Shamir". With a powerful command of the English language, compelling anecdotes, dramatic metaphors, and a spirited opposition to the Israel's military occupation, Shamir was rapidly and warmly accepted into the pro-Palestinian activist scene, and by Spring 2001 had embarked on a speaking tour of the United States, speaking at many public events alongside leading lights of the Palestinian scene.

As his articles kept coming, however, an increasing amount of the tone and content was observed by more than a few to fall into what could -- if this hadn't been an Israeli Jew writing it -- best be described as a classic anti-Semitic repertoire. Shamir's identity as a Jew initially enabled people to excuse this, until the whole mess began to unravel as more and more questions were asked. Eventually, these questions began to be answered, and the issue errupted into a controversy. This page is an archive for some of the material that circulated, and is offered to the Palestinian community in particular as a warning to check the backgrounds and content of the message of people who claim to speak on their behalf. However worthy the cause, the end does not justify the means. Nigel Parry

CounterPunch Articles on Wikileaks by Israel Shamir

The more recent controversy, which has received more attention on the blogosphere because of the media interest in Wikileaks, followed on from a series of Shamir's articles on Wikileaks, published on CounterPunch. I list those here.

2010-08-27/29: Assange: The Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land...

2010-09-14: Making a Mockery of the Real Crime of Rape: Assange Beseiged

2010-11-29: On Board the Good Ship Cablegate: Assange in the Entrails of Empire

2010-12-31: Paradigm in Belarus: The Minsk Election in a Wikileaks Mirror

2011-01-05: The Secrets of Wikileaks: Julian Assange's Deal With the Devil

2011-01-11: Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks

English articles on Israel Shamir and Wikileaks

In the English speaking world, the story was broken comprehensively in Reason magazine, and carried on Andrew Brown's blog, in the Guardian, and also covered by a series of blog posts by a Joseph W on the Harry's Place blog. The original Reason piece was an exposé of Shamir on account of the fact that his early articles had been taken up by a significant portion of the mainstream press to pass on rumours that one of Assange's accusers had ties with the CIA. This was quickly lost as the story became about Wikileaks' ties with this individual.

2010-12-14: Reason.com: "Assange's Extremist Employees" by Michael C. Moynihan

2010-12-17: The Guardian's Andrew Brown Blog: "Wikileaks & Israel Shamir" by Andrew Brown

2010-12-24: Harry's Place: Julian Assange on Israel Shamir in Belarus

2010-12-29: Harry's Place: A Tale of Two Wikis: “Israel Shamir” Gives Interview to Russian Neo-Nazi Newspaper about Wikileaks

2011-01-12: Harry's Place: Wikileaks and Fascism

2011-01-17: Harry's Place: Israel Shamir Condemns Guardian “Censoring” Wikileaks

Swedish media on Israel Shamir and Wikileaks

The primary sources for these English pieces were a feature in the Swedish tabloid, Expressen, by Magnus Ljunggren, a Gothenberg Emeritus professor of Russian Literature, and an apparently rather sensational investigatory programme on Swedish Radio, in which Herbert Snorrason (who broke contact with Wikileaks after a disagreement with Julian Assange) expressed rather vague misgivings about the publication practices of Wikileaks.

2010-12-10: SverigesRadio: Bekräftat för Medierna: ökänd antisemit jobbar med Wikileaks (Audio - Partially in English)

2010-12-10: Expressen: "Daddy's Boy" by Magnus Ljunggren

Prior coverage of Shamir's views

These features cursorily referred back to previous articles and coverage of Shamir's views for support.

2010-05-??: Searchlight Magazine: Israeli writer is Swedish anti-Semite

2010-08-11: Mohamed Omar's Blog: "The Holocaust is an Idol" Interview With Israel Shamir

Shamir has presented a series of responses to the main accusastions against him, on his website and on CounterPunch.

To the Expressen: Ljunggren the Liar

Latynina’s Fantasies

2011-01-05: The Secrets of Wikileaks: Julian Assange's Deal With the Devil

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