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Honouring my election promise


I make my mark on the Knesset
Uri Avnery Social activist
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ואז הוא תופס את מקום היו”ר. הישיבה נפתחת וצריכים לבחור יו”ר. ופה אנחנו תפסנו חור בתקנון: איך בכל זאת תדבר בישיבה הראשונה? אם אתה מתנגד למועמד של היו"ר שמציעה המפלגה הגדולה ביותר, מפא"י, ואתה מציע מישהו אחר! אז אני מרים את היד: הצעה אחרת. כולם נדהמו. זה עוד לא קרה דבר כזה. הרי כל הדברים האלה מוסכמים מראש. אין ברירה, בן גוריון מתייעץ עם מזכיר הכנסת, אין ברירה, כתוב. אני עולה ואני הצעתי ערבי.

ז'בוטינסקי כתב באחד הכתבים שלו, שאם נשיא המדינה הוא יהודי אז סגנו יהיה ערבי  וגם להיפך. אז זה אמרתי. והצעתי ערבי, ערבי של מפא"י, לא איזשהו ערבי משוגע קומוניסט או משהו. ונאמתי נאום, קצר, אבל נאמתי נאום. ויש תמונה של בן גוריון, היו"ר, יושב, מסתכל. אני במרחק של חצי מטר ממנו, על דוכן הנואמים. יש תמונה משותפת, יפה מאוד.

 זהו, אז הישיבה נגמרת כמו שהיא תוכננה, כמובן נבחר מי שמפא"י רצתה, היו"ר קדיש לוז, היה דווקא איש מאוד הגון, וגומרים את הישיבה, אנחנו יוצאים בדלת של המליאה. אני עומד בדלת מחכה לצאת, אני רואה שמישהו מאחור תופס את היד שלי. מסתכל, משה דיין. אני הייתי אויב של משה דיין, כתבתי נגדו. מה לא כתבתי נגדו? והוא אומר: "כמו שמקובל בבית הזה, אני מברך אותך”. מאוד נחמד. וכך נגמרה הישיבה הראשונה.‏

Then he took his place in the Chairman's seat. The session started and a Chairman had to be selected. And here was where we had found a loophole in the Rules of Procedure: how could one speak during the first session? If you were opposed to the candidate proposed by the largest party, Mapai, you could propose someone else! So I raised my hand: I had a different proposal. Everybody was shocked. Nothing like this had happened before. After all, these things were agreed on in advance. There was no choice. Ben-Gurion consulted with the Secretary of the Knesset. There was no choice, it was written. I got up and I proposed an Arab MK. Jabotinsky had written once that if the President of the State is a Jew there will be an Arab Deputy, and vice versa. That was what I said. And I proposed an Arab, an Arab from Mapai, not some crazy Arab communist or something. And I made a speech, a short one, but I made a speech. And there is a picture of Ben-Gurion, the Chairman, sitting, looking. I'm just half a metre away from him, at the podium. There is a picture of us together, very nice. That's it. Then the session ended as it was supposed to, of course, and the person that Mapai wanted was elected: Chairman Kadish Luz, who was actually a very decent individual. The session finished and we were going out the door of the Assembly. I was standing at the door waiting to go out, and I saw someone behind me grabbing my hand. I looked. Moshe Dayan. I was Moshe Dayan's enemy, I had written against him. What hadn't I written against him? And he said, 'As is customary in this building, I congratulate you'. Very nice. This is how the first session ended.

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: Knesset, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan

Duration: 2 minutes, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017