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The accident that led to romance


How I met Rachel, my wife
Uri Avnery Social activist
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I met Rachel for the first time three times. I think I've spoken about the group that I founded in 1945 called In the Struggle, which introduced a new, whole and new ideology which was in absolute contrast to the settlement worldview whose prominent representative was David Ben-Gurion. We had no money, we were all broke, we worked for our living. I gathered a group of 10-20 men and women and we would get together every week, and because we had no money we didn't go to any club or anything like that. We would gather instead in private homes of friends. And I had a friend who lived on Ben Yehuda Street – 100  Ben Yehuda Street – it was popular then, and she rented a half a room in someone else's apartment. It was a doctor's apartment, also German. A four-room apartment, I think. One room was his clinic, in one room lived his younger daughter, Rachel, and that same girl who was in our group. One day we met in this room, this girl invited us. In the middle of our meeting, a girl came in, she was 14, I think, perhaps 15. In the abstract I noticed that she was pretty, but I was busy and didn't really pay attention.

Meanwhile there was the war. This group separated. I don't know if I was still working at Haaretz or if I had already established HaOlam HaZeh, it was around that time. I had a friend named Michael Almaz, whom we called Miko. He was a theatre enthusiast and he established a theatre which was more professional than amateur, called Zirah Theatre. It was called Arena, because the stage was in the middle of the room and the audience sat around it. It was an American experiment. America was full of such experiments, and he adopted the American model. And I tried my hand as a playwright and wrote a one-act play, Vision, about Samson's Foxes. Something about the atmosphere of war. I can hardly remember what it was. And there Miko, Michael Almaz, introduced me to a young girl, I think she was a soldier, who was an actress in his theatre, although not in that play. He introduced me to her, and we got into a conversation and that was how we met.

אני הכרתי את רחל בפעם הראשונה שלוש פעמים. אני חושב שסיפרתי על קבוצת "במאבק" שהקמתי ב-1945, היא באה עם השקפת עולם חדשה, שלמה וחדשה שעמדה בניגוד מוחלט להשקפת העולם היישובית שנציגה הבולט היה דוד בן גוריון. לא היה לנו כסף, כולנו היינו "תפרנים" שעבדנו למחייתנו. אספתי איזה קבוצה של עשרה-עשרים איש ואשה, והיינו מתכנסים כל שבוע, ומכיוון שלא היה לנו כסף לא למועדון ולא לשום דבר דומה לזה אנחנו היינו מתכנסים בבתים הפרטיים של החברים. והייתה לי חברה שגרה ברחוב בן יהודה. לא לי, לחוג הזה, רחוב בן יהודה 100 וכמו שהיה מקובל אז היא שכרה חצי חדר בדירה של אחרים. זו הייתה דירה של רופא, גרמני גם, שהייתה דירה של ארבעה חדרים אני חושב. אחד היה הקליניקה שלו, בחדר אחד גרה בתו הקטנה רחל ואותה חברה של החוג שלנו. ובאחד הימים עשינו כנס בחדר הזה, הבחורה הזאת הזמינה אותנו. באמצע נכנסה ילדה, בת 14 אני חושב, 15 אולי, שבהיסח הדעת שמתי לב שהיא יפה, אבל הייתי עסוק בפעולה ויותר לא שמתי לב.

אז בינתיים הייתה המלחמה. החוג הזה התפזר לא יודע אם עוד עבדתי ב'הארץ'או כבר הקמתי את ״העולם הזה״, בערך בתקופה ההיא. היה לי חבר בשם מיכאל אלמז, שקראנו לו מיקו, שהוא היה חובב תיאטרון והקים תיאטרון ספק חובבים ספק חצי מקצועי בשם "תיאטרון זירה". זה נקרא “זירה", מפני שהבמה הייתה באמצע החדר והקהל ישב מסביב. זה ניסיון אמריקאי. אמריקה הייתה אז מלאה ניסיונות כאלה והוא לקח את הדוגמה האמריקאית. ואני ניסיתי את ידי כמחזאי וכתבתי מערכון - “מחזון" - על 'שועלי שמשון'. משהו מהווי המלחמה. בקושי זוכר מה זה היה. ושם מיקו, מיכאל אלמז, הציג לי בחורה צעירה, אני חושב ‏‏חיילתונדמה לי, שהייתה מהשחקניות בתיאטרון שלו, למרות שלא בהצגה הזאת. הציג לי אותה, ונכנסנו לשיחה וכך הכרנו.‏‎


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: In the Struggle, Haaretz, HaOlam HaZeh, Zirah Theatre, Vision, Samson's Foxes, Michael Almaz, Rachel Avnery, David Ben-Gurion

Duration: 4 minutes, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017