Shamir’s October Surprise Admission
July 3, 2012

Exclusive: Two decades ago, ex-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir offered the stunning confirmation that “of course” an October Surprise plot had blocked President Jimmy Carter from gaining the release of 52 U.S. hostages in Iran, thus helping Ronald Reagan win the presidency in 1980, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who died on June 30, was one of the last surviving founders of Israel who lived under the dark cloud of the Holocaust and thus felt justified to do whatever was needed to establish and protect the Jewish state. As such, he was less shy than later Israeli leaders in admitting some harsh realities.

I encountered that side of Shamir in 1993 when I took part in an interview with him at his office in Tel Aviv. One question was whether his Likud predecessor, Menachem Begin, had collaborated with Republicans before the 1980 election to block President Jimmy Carter’s attempts to negotiate freedom for 52 U.S. hostages then held in Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir shaking hands with President Ronald Reagan’s Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1982. (U.S. government photo)

Carter’s failure to free the hostages destroyed his hopes for reelection and set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory. Though some Israeli operatives have acknowledged over the years that Israel served as Reagan’s middleman in arms payoffs to Iran’s Islamic leaders, the official Israeli reaction has remained one of denial.

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