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Losing the election of ‘73


Shalom Cohen joins the Black Panthers
Uri Avnery Social activist
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At the same time there was this business with the Black Panthers. In Jerusalem, a group of Moroccans founded a group that was a scandal. They instigated a lot of riots in the country, stealing barrels full of milk which they distributed. A multi-interest group founded not by Moroccans, but established by Americans, American social workers, also used the name. What is a black panther in Hebrew? There is no such thing. But there are Black Panthers – and panthers in general in America. It is an American animal. And in Jerusalem, a group called the Black Panthers was established, and made waves. And when Shalom decided not to resign, which inevitably split our faction, he looked for a movement that he could represent. They were looking for representation in the Knesset so it was an ideal 'marriage' and he became the leader of the Black Panthers. For me it was a very, very hard blow, not only the matter itself. Shalom Cohen and I had been like brothers, if not more so. We had been together during the war, we had been in battle together. I was injured instead of him because I took over the job that he was supposed to do, because he wanted to travel to Tel Aviv. Later, at HaOlam HaZeh, all the adventures that we had there right until that time. It was very hard for me. But there was no choice and we separated. It was not easy to divide HaOlam HaZeh. How does one divide a newspaper? We appointed Dov Eitan, who was also a major player in HaOlam HeZeh and a very, very serious individual, as arbitrator between us and he arbitrated very simply: 'Uri Avnery takes the paper, all the rest goes to Shalom Cohen'. Office, assets, we didn't really have very much but it was an expensive office so he got all that. And this is how I separated from Shalom Cohen and I haven't spoken to him since.

באותו זמן היה העסק הזה של "הפנתרים השחורים”: בירושלים קבוצה של מרוקאים שהקימה קבוצה שהיא סקנדליסטית, הקימה מאוד-מאוד מהומות במדינה, גנבה כדי חלב וחילקה. קבוצה רבת-עניין שהוקמה לא ע"י מרוקאים, הוקמה ע"י אמריקאים, עובדים סוציאליים אמריקאים, לקחה גם את השם. מה זה פנתר שחור בעברית? אין דבר כזה, אבל Black Panthers ופנתרים בכלל יש באמריקה, זאת חיה אמריקאית. וקמה בירושלים קבוצה של "הפנתרים השחורים" שהיכתה גלים וכשהוא החליט לא להתפטר, והסיעה שלנו התפלגה בהכרח, הוא חיפש תנועה שיכול בשמה להופיע. הם חיפשו נציגות בכנסת אז זה היה "נישואים" אידיאליים והוא הפך למנהיג "הפנתרים השחורים". בשבילי זו הייתה מכה מאוד-מאוד קשה. לא רק העניין עצמו. שלום כהן ואני היינו כמו אחים, אם לא יותר מזה. היינו יחד במלחמה, היינו בקרבות ביחד, אני נפצעתי במקומו מפני שלקחתי ממנו תפקיד שהוא היה צריך למלא מפני שהוא רצה לנסוע לתל אביב. ואחר כך "העולם הזה", כל ההרפתקאות שהיו ב"העולם הזה" עד אז. היה מאוד קשה מבחינתי. אבל לא הייתה ברירה ונפרדנו. לא היה קל לחלק את "העולם הזה", איך מחלקים עיתון? ודב איתן, שגם היה איש מרכזי ב"העולם הזה" ואיש מאוד-מאוד רציני, מינינו אותו לבורר בינינו והוא בירר את זה פשוט: "אורי אבנרי לוקח את העיתון, כל השאר הולך לשלום כהן”. המשרד, הרכוש, לא היה מי יודע מה אבל היה משרד יקר וכו', הוא הלך עם כל זה. ככה נפרדנו משלום כהן, לא דיברנו מילה אחרי זה.

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: Black Panthers, HaOlam HaZeh, Dov Eitan, Shalom Cohen

Duration: 3 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017