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Knesset – a cross-section of society


The freedom to do what I wanted
Uri Avnery Social activist
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כמובן הייתה הנהלה של הסיעה וכל זה, אבל רוב הדברים סידרנו בינינו אמנון ואני. ואנחנו העלינו נושאים, אלף ואחד דברים: אני העליתי בפעם הראשונה היתר חוקי להפלות מלאכותיות. שהיה אז חוק להפלות מלאכותיות שהולכים לבית הסוהר. אני העליתי רעיון להקים חיל כבאות ארצי, שעד היום הם לא הגיעו עדיין. שזה דבר הגיוני, בארץ קטנה כמו שלנו הדבר הכי-הכי הגיוני ופשוט. אני הכנסתי הצעת חוק להתיר הומוסקסואליות, שאז היה גם כן פשע עם מאסר. אני הכנסתי הצעת חוק: טרמפ לחיילים. חיילים נסיעות חינם. אלף ואחד דברים ובכל מיני תחומים. כל התחומים שעסקתי ב"העולם הזה" כעורך עיתון פשוט הכנסתי אותם לכנסת. עכשיו, למה קינאו בי? לא רק בגלל החופש לעשות מה שאני רוצה, חבר כנסת נורמלי שנואם נאום שהוא נורא מתגאה בו בפני אולם של שלושה אנשים או חמישה נוכחים, בזה נגמר העניין, איש לא שומע על הנאום הזה. אלא אם כן אם אחד הכתבים הפרלמנטרים, ואז היו כאלה זקנים שעסקו בזה עשר שנים ועשרים שנה וכבר היו לגמרי קהי חושים, אם הוא לא תופס את החסדים של אחד מאלה, ומתחנף אליו ורודף אחריו, אף אחד לא שומע. לי היה עיתון, ובעיתון הכנסתי עמוד: "דו"ח לבוחר”. כאילו דו"ח לבוחרים שלי שהיו קוראי "העולם הזה”. ושם נתתי דו"ח על כל מה שעשיתי בכנסת: שאילתות, הצעות לסדר היום. אני שיגעתי אותם, הם באמת השתגעו לאט לאט, וקינאו. למרות שפה ושם עשינו גם ידידויות.‏

Of course there was the administration of my faction and everything, but most things were arranged between Amnon and me. And we raised issues, a thousand and one things: I raised for the first time the legalization of abortion. Until then, you could go to jail because of the Abortion Law. I raised the idea of ​​establishing a national fire-fighting force which has not yet been implemented but which makes sense, the utmost logical and simple thing, in a small country like ours. I put forward a bill to allow homosexuality which then was also a crime carrying the threat of imprisonment. I put forward a bill: free rides for soldiers, free travel for soldiers. A thousand and one things in all kinds of fields. All of the things that I dealt with in HaOlam HaZeh as the newspaper editor, I simply raised them in the Knesset. Now, why were they jealous? Not only because I had the freedom to do what I wanted. A normal member of Knesset who makes a speech that he was very proud of in front of an Assembly with only three or five people present, that was the end of it – no one will hear that speech. Unless a parliamentary reporter – and then there were those old fellows who had been doing this for 10 and 20 years and were by now completely desensitised – unless he could get some sympathy from of one of them by sucking up to them and chasing them no one would hear about the speech he'd given. I had a newspaper, and I put a column in the newspaper: 'Report to the Voters'. Like a report to my constituents, readers of HaOlam HaZeh. And in it I gave a report about everything that I had done in the Knesset:  questions, proposals to the agenda. I drove them crazy. They really went slowly crazy, and they were jealous. Although here and there we even made friendships.

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

Duration: 2 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017