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Golda Meir: a natural phenomenon


Yitzhak Rabin for Prime Minister!
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Golda Meir was one of the strangest individuals I've ever encountered. There was never any kind of understanding between us. Even before she became Prime Minister, she really hated me; this was quite evident from her body language. I remember once I spoke in the Knesset about drugs and I was already in favour of legalising drugs, certainly allowing recreational drugs like cannabis. It seemed ridiculous to me that alcohol was legal and cannabis was not, even though I always drank alcohol and cannabis didn't affect me. One day, I stood at the podium and spoke in favour of permitting drugs. Then I stopped and said: 'I want to address Member of Knesset, Golda Meir'. Then the Chairman, I forgot who it was, said: 'But MK Golda Meir didn't say anything'. So I said: 'I'm not responding to her heckling, but to her grimacing'. She sat and did this…

And then she came to power after the death of Levi Eshkol. When Levi Eshkol died, the President, according to established procedures, invited all of the heads of the factions one by one, according to size, to recommend a new Prime Minister. I racked my brains. There was no one in the Knesset that I wanted to recommend, but I had no desire to leave the meeting with the President without recommending someone. Then I did a strange thing: I recommended Yitzhak Rabin who was then the Israeli Ambassador in Washington. The President said in surprise: 'But Mr Rabin is not a member of the Knesset, so according to the law he cannot be Prime Minister'. I said: 'So we have to change the law'. It was of course pointless. But it was the first time the name of Yitzhak Rabin was raised as a candidate for Prime Minister.

גולדה מאיר הייתה אחת הבני-אדם המוזרים ביותר שנתקלתי בהם. אף פעם לא הייתה בינינו סימפטיה. עוד לפני שהיא הייתה ראש ממשלה היא ממש תיעבה אותי, זה היה ניכר בשפת הגוף. אני זוכר שפעם אני דיברתי בכנסת על סמים ואני הייתי כבר אז בעד התרת הסמים, בוודאי התרת הסמים הקלים – חשיש ודברים כאלה. נראה לי מגוחך שאלכוהול יהיה מותר וחשיש לא, למרות שאני שתיתי תמיד אלכוהול וחשיש לא השפיע עלי. ויום אחד אני עומד על הדוכן ונואם למען התרת סמים, אני מפסיק את עצמי ואומר: "אני רוצה להגיד לחברת הכנסת גולדה מאיר", אז היו"ר, שכחתי מי, אמרה: "אבל חברת הכנסת גולדה מאיר לא אמרה שום דבר”. אז אמרתי: "אני לא עונה לקריאות הביניים שלה אלא להעוויות הביניים שלה”. שהיא ישבה ועשתה ככה… ואז היא הגיעה לשלטון עם מותו של לוי אשכול. כשלוי אשכול מת אז נשיא המדינה, לפי הנוהל הקבוע, הזמין את כל ראשי הסיעות בזה אחר זה לפי הגודל להמליץ על ראש ממשלה חדש. ואני שברתי לי את הראש. לא היה אף אחד בכנסת שהיה לי חשק להמליץ עליו, אבל גם לא היה לי חשק לצאת מהפגישה עם נשיא המדינה מבלי להמליץ על אף אחד. ואז עשיתי דבר משונה: אני המלצתי על יצחק רבין, שהיה אז שגריר בוושינגטון. אז נשיא המדינה אמר לי בתמיהה: "אבל מר יצחק רבין איננו חבר כנסת, לכן לפי החוק הוא איננו יכול להיות ראש ממשלה”. אז אמרתי: "אז צריכים לשנות את החוק”. זאת הייתה הפגנה ריקה. אבל זו פעם ראשונה שעלה שמו של יצחק רבין כמועמד לראשות הממשלה.‏

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: Golda Meir, Levi Eshkol, Yitzhak Rabin

Duration: 3 minutes, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017