Israel Shamir was born Izrail Schmerler in Novosibirsk, Siberia, in 1947, to Jewish parents. Later on he taught mathematics and law at Novosibirsk University. He moved to Israel in 1969, served as paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, and fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. After the war he returned to his study of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but then abandoned this in favour of a career in journalism. In 1984 Shamir left Israel and moved to Sweden, where he was naturalized in 1992. Ever since he has been at various times a resident of Russia, Israel and Sweden. In 2004 Shamir was baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church.
Shamir’s writing focuses on the plight of the Palestinians, hence he is by necessity a devoted anti-Zionist. He has also frequently spoken out in defense of revisionism and the revisionists’ right to freedom of expression.