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The moment I thought of leaving Israel


Publishing the story of the massacre at Kafr Qasim
Uri Avnery Social activist
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אבל המפקדים היו בני-אדם ולא בולי עץ והם פשוט לא מילאו את הפקודה, בכל הכפרים חוץ מאחד, ששם היו כמה הרוגים, שכחתי איזה, הם נתנו לאנשים להגיע הביתה, כפי שציווה ההיגיון. חוץ מאחד, דהאן, גבי, נכון? גבריאל דהאן, בחור יפה תואר, ששאל את השאלה וקיבל אותה תשובה ומילא את הפקודה כמו שזה. כלומר כשהגברים והנשים והילדים חזרו מהשדות העמיד אותם בשורה, והרג אותם. אלה היו העובדות. ובא אלי מישהו, שכחתי מי, וסיפר לי את הסיפור הזה, מיד אחרי גמר המלחמה. המלחמה הרי הייתה של כמה ימים בסך הכל. ואני רציתי לפרסם. הצנזורה אמרה לי ש"אפילו אל תחלום על זה", אבל אני לא יכולתי, זה בער בי. זה היה פשע המלחמה הגדול ביותר בתולדות המדינה עד אז, מאז כפר יאסין. והיה מנוי וגמור עמי לפרסם את זה, להביא לפרסום מיידי. החלטתי שאת "העולם הזה" אני לא יכול לסכן, לו הייתי מפרסם את זה ב"העולם הזה" היו משתמשים בזה כתירוץ פשוט לסגור את "העולם הזה" לצמיתות. אז החלטנו: "בואו נעשה חוברת נפרדת". הנייר היה עדיין בקיצוב, לא היה לי נייר, אז לקחנו נייר מ"על המשמר”. לטיף דורי היה שותף לקנוניה. וגבינו את העדויות. הלכו לכפר ולקחו את העדויות. אני חושב שתופיק טובי מהמפלגה הקומוניסטית בעיקר גבה את העדויות ושלח למערכות העיתונים. גם אלי, צרור של עדויות של עדי ראייה. והחלטנו פשוט לקחת את העדויות האלה ולהפוך אותם לחוברת, להדפיס אותם על הנייר הזה ולהפיץ אותם. כמובן לא לחלום על זה להעביר את זה לצנזורה.אבל איכשהו זה נודע לצנזורה. לשב"כ אז היו סוכנים בכל מקום, גם אצלנו בוודאי.‏

However, the commanders were people and not blockheads and they simply did not follow the command in all of the villages except one where there were some casualties – I forget which village. They let people get home, as logic dictated. Except for one commander – Dahan, Gabi, right? Gabriel Dahan, a handsome man, who asked the question and received the same answer and followed the command as it was given. So when the men and women and children returned from the fields, he lined them up and killed them. These were the facts. Someone came to me, I forget who, and he told me this story, immediately after the end of the war. 'After the war' was only a few days in all and I wanted to publish it. The censor told me, 'Don't even dream about it', but I couldn't – it burned inside of me. It was the biggest war crime in the history of the country at that time since Deir Yassin. I was determined to publish it, to publish it immediately. I decided that I could not jeopardize HaOlam HaZeh and if I were to publish this there, they would use it as an excuse to close down HaOlam HaZeh forever.  So we took the decision to make a separate booklet. Paper was still rationed. I had no paper, so we took a paper from Al HaMishmar. Latif Dori was involved in the conspiracy. And we collected testimonies. We went to the village and took the testimonies. I think Tawfik Toubi of the Communist Party backed up the testimony and sent it to the press and to me, too – a sheaf of testimonies from eyewitnesses. And we decided simply to take the testimonies and turn them into a booklet, print them on this paper and distribute them. Of course we did not dream of submitting it to be censored, but somehow the censor learned about it. The Shin Bet had operatives everywhere and certainly also among us.

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: HaOlam HaZeh, Kafr Qasim, Deir Yassin, Al HaMishmar, Gabriel Dahan, Latif Dori, Tawfik Toubi

Duration: 3 minutes, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017