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Panic in Israel


No one dreamed of a war
Uri Avnery Social activist
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איך בכלל כל זה עלה? איזה שנתיים לפני כן הוקם פת”ח [פת״ח: התנועה לשחרור פלסטין, הוקמה בסוף 1959[. ופת"ח התחיל בפיגועים קטנים, עלובים לאורך הגבול הסורי. הסורים באותה עת פרסו את חסותם על פת"ח. למה? מפני שהסורים, שהיה להם איזה אידיאולוגיה בעת'ית, קומוניסטית, רצו לקדם מלחמת שחרור עממית על-פי הדוגמא שכמה שנים לפני כן נפתחה באלג'יריה והביאה לשחרור אלג’יריה. אז הם גם רצו. זה מלחמת שחרור עממית, אבל לא של הסורים, של הפלסטינים. והנה בא ערפאת עם גוף חדש, פת"ח, והתחילו בכמה פיגועים ממש עלובים. היה שם קו מים שהם התקיפו וכל מיני דברים כאלה. הרמטכ"ל הישראלי, יצחק רבין, השיב על זה באיומים: "אם לא תפסיקו אנחנו נעלה ונכבוש את דמשק”. ובאיזשהו שלב הסורים נבהלו. נבהלו ופנו למי? לנאסר, שאז היה מקובל. נאסר אז היה בשיא זוהרו, כנציג הרעיון הכל-ערבי ואיחוד העולם הערבי נגד ישראל. ואז נאסר, כהפגנה להוכיח כמה שהוא מנהיג העולם הערבי, הכניס את כוחותיו לסיני. כל זה היה חסר כל תוכן. אף אחד לא חלם על מלחמה.‏

How did all of this happen? About two years earlier, Fatah had been established. Fatah began with small attacks along the Syrian border. At the time, Syria gave Fatah its patronage. Why? Because the Syrians, who had a Ba'ath communist ideology, wanted to promote a popular war of liberation like the one that had developed several years earlier in Algeria and had led to the liberation of Algeria. They wanted the same, a popular war of liberation, but not all the Syrians, only the Palestinians. And now Arafat came with a new organization – Fatah – which started with several miserable attacks. There was a water pipeline which they attacked and things like that. The Israeli Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, responded with threats: 'If you do not stop, we will overthrow Damascus'. And at some point the Syrians became alarmed, panicked and approached whom? Nasser, who was then very much accepted. Nasser then was in his full splendour as the representative of the all-Arab concept and uniting the Arab world against Israel. Then Nasser, as a demonstration to prove just how strong a leader he was of the Arab world, brought his forces into Sinai. This move was totally lacking substance. No one dreamed of war.

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: Syria, Algeria, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, Gamal Abdel Nasser

Duration: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017