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Shalom Cohen joins the Black Panthers


Falling out with Shalom Cohen
Uri Avnery Social activist
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After the war, when I got to HaOlam HaZeh and I set up the editorial board – I had been discharged before Shalom Cohen quite early because of my injury while Shalom Cohen served another year, I think – but when I set up HaOlam HaZeh I recruited him. Shalom had no idea about journalism, he had never been involved in anything like that. He had no profession at all. His profession was kibbutznik, but I told him: 'When you get out of the army come to us'. I shared HaOlam HaZeh with him also in terms of ownership. From the beginning there were four partners who owned HaOlam HaZeh each put in 2000 liras. It turned out that Shalom never paid it – although he deducted that amount from the profits – despite the fact that Shalom comes from a wealthy family as his father had a fabric store on Nahalat Binyamin Street. Then he joined me in HaOlam HaZeh, becoming a co-owner and was also on the editorial board. Because 'deputy' does not have a nice ring to it – 'deputy editor' – I invented a title for him: Head of the Editorial Board. I think we talked about the fact that this concept was introduced into law.

One could say that at the time we were inseparable. We shared the work at HaOlam HaZeh. He slowly – no, actually quite quickly – learned how to be a journalist. Every intelligent person can be an average journalist. Talent comes in above that.

He was Head of the Editorial Board. For quite a while he was head of administration or head of the financial side, he fulfilled all kinds of functions and he was fine. As I mentioned, when I was elected to the Knesset for the second time he was elected with me. There was great joy, until we reached a bitter and final moment. And I had sensed it even before it happened. I felt something was wrong. He had a girlfriend – in addition to his wife and children – he had a girlfriend in Haifa, a woman who egged him on and apparently said to him: 'Why are you number two? Why are you not equal in status with Uri Avnery?' Things like that. She was his mistress and she influenced him, and at some point he probably decided he didn't want to honor the agreement of the rotation and then I began to realize that he was seeking disputes with me about all kinds of speeches in the Knesset: what speech he will give, what speech I will give. It became unpleasant. When we reached the date of the rotation, he simply did not resign.

אחרי המלחמה, כשאני קיבלתי לידי את "העולם הזה" והקמתי מערכת של "העולם הזה”… אני השתחררתי לפני שלום כהן, אני השתחררתי בגלל הפציעה שלי די מוקדם. שלום כהן שירת עוד שנה אחרי אני חושב. אבל כשהקמתי את "העולם הזה" גייסתי אותו. שלום לא היה לו מושג בעיתונות, הוא בחיים שלו לא עסק בזה. לא היה לו מקצוע בכלל. המקצוע שלו היה “קיבוצניק". אבל אמרתי לו: "כשאתה יוצא מהצבא בוא אלינו”. ושיתפתי אותו ב"העולם הזה" גם מבחינת הבעלות. הבעלות של "העולם הזה" מהתחלה היו ארבעה שותפים שכל אחד הכניס 2,000 לירות. בסוף התברר ששלום מעולם לא שילם את זה, אבל הוא הוריד את זה מהרווחים. למרות ששלום בא ממשפחה אמידה, אבא שלו היתה לו חנות בדים ברחוב נחלת בנימין. אז הוא הצטרף אלי ב"העולם הזה", גם לבעלות על "העולם הזה", גם למערכת. מכיוון ש"סגן" לא צלצל יפה בעיניי, "סגן עורך", אז אני המצאתי בשבילו תואר: "ראש מערכת", אני חושב שדיברנו על זה שאת החוק הם הכניסו את המושג הזה. ואז היינו צמד בלתי-נפרד אפשר לומר. התחלקנו בעבודה ב"העולם הזה”. הוא לאט-לאט, לא, די מהר אפילו, למד את המקצוע העיתונות. כל אדם אינטליגנטי יכול להיות עיתונאי בינוני, כישרון נכנס מעל לזה. והוא היה ראש מערכת. זמן מה הוא היה ראש המנהלה או ראש הצד הכספי, מילא כל מיני תפקידים והוא היה בסדר גמור. כאמור, כשנבחרתי בפעם השנייה לכנסת הוא נבחר אתי. הייתה שמחה מאוד גדולה, עד שבא הרגע המר והנמהר. ואני הרגשתי עוד לפני זה. הרגשתי שמשהו לא בסדר. הייתה לו חברה, חוץ מאשתו וילדיו, הייתה לו חברה בחיפה, איזה בחורה שהסיתה אותו וכנראה אמרה לו: "מה פתאום, למה אתה מספר 2? למה אתה לא שווה-מעמד עם אורי אבנרי?" כל מיני דברים כאלה. היא הייתה הפילגש שלו והשפיעה עליו, ובאיזשהו שלב הוא כנראה החליט שהוא לא רוצה לקיים את ההסכם של הרוטציה ואז התחלתי להבין שהוא חיפש אתי חילוקי דעות על כל מיני נאומים בכנסת: מה הוא ינאם, מה אני אנאם. התחלתי להריח לא טוב. וכשהגענו למועד, הוא פשוט לא התפטר.‏

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, Shalom Cohen

Duration: 3 minutes, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017