Ron Kampeas says I owe "Yitzhak Shamir an apology" for inaccurate quotes in this post. The quotes are both accurate. But I miswrote "cockroaches" rather than "grasshoppers" in a summary paragraph when referring to Shamir (the cockroach description came from Rafael Eitan, the former military chief of staff). But the quotes are accurate, and accurately illustrate the dehumanization of Palestinians. For the complete record, here's the Reuters story that contains the "grasshoppers" remark:
As Israel prepared to lift a three-day blockade of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir warned today that rioters would be crushed ''like grasshoppers.'' … Mr. Shamir, standing atop an ancient West Bank castle, told reporters: ''Anybody who wants to damage this fortress and other fortresses we are establishing will have his head smashed against the boulders and walls.'' … In remarks aimed at Arab rioters, the Prime Minister said: ''We say to them from the heights of this mountain and from the perspective of thousands of years of history that they are like grasshoppers compared to us.''
Shamir is owed no apology. Both he and Eitan referred to Palestinians as insects to be crushed. I remember this incident vividly because it was the source of a huge spat between Charles Krauthammer and Leon Wieseltier at TNR in 1988. Leon was disgusted by the remarks. Krauthammer defended them.
(Photo: Stephen Friedt.)
[Update: maybe it's the vicodin for my wisdom teeth but I now see what the issue is, thanks to readers. The quote I used was truncated. In the original I wrote Shamir said, "'The Palestinians' would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed against the boulders and walls." The full quote was as above: "'Anybody who wants to damage this fortress and other fortresses we are establishing will have his head smashed against the boulders and walls." But he is obviously referring to Palestinians resisting settlements, and he equates the entire people as "grasshoppers" compared to the Jewish people across millennia in the second part of his statement. The point stands. But the quote was compressed in ways I missed.]