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'We are heading for war'


Italian communists support the Arab-Israeli peace process
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Nasser died, Sadat took his place, and in a fairly short time it became clear that Sadat was following the same line that Nasser had taken at the end. Apparently it was not a private madness of Abdel Nasser, and there was an entire stratum of politicians who thought that after the War of Attrition, after they had attempted everything in order to try the diplomatic rather than the military approach.

At the same time, a series of political meetings were commencing in Italy where the Italian Communist party, which was a very important party in Italy and in the communist world - there was a legendary figure named [Giancarlo] Pajetta who had been in prison under Mussolini and was the elder statesman of the party – and the Italian Communist party, which didn't take its orders from Moscow, was very independent. There was a joke that one day some party members come to the leader of the Italian Communist party − I forget his name − and say, 'Disaster! A terrible disaster has befallen us!' 'What is it?' 'There was an exhibition of modern art in Moscow. Khrushchev came to the exhibition, looking at the pictures and said: 'It looks as if they was painted with a donkey's tail'. Disaster! The Italians are art lovers, and if they hear something like that, we'll lose half the votes'. But the leader replied: 'On the contrary, we will disassociate ourselves from this declaration and we will get 100% more votes'. So that Communist Party − which was very sympathetic, very different from all the communist parties that I knew of, including the Israeli communists − was open. They would have meetings, take a break to eat at a nice restaurant and come back to the meeting. Italians! I have always said that they espouse Karl Marx less than Machiavelli. So the Italian Communist Party invited the other parties, all of whom had cooperated with them regarding this matter, and decided to hold a big Israeli-Arab peace conference. They held a preparatory conference in Rome. I was there. It was a major conference which was supposed to be a preparation for the main conference in Bologna. And there in Bologna important delegations from the Arab world and Israel would meet.

נאסר מת, סאדאת בא במקומו, ותוך זמן די קצר התברר שסאדאת יש לו אותו קו של סוף דרכו של נאסר. וכנראה זה לא היה שגעון פרטי של עבד אל נאסר, והייתה שכבה שלמה שחשבה שאחרי מלחמת ההתשה, אחרי שהם ניסו את הכל כדאי לנסות את הדרך המדינית ולא הצבאית. באותו זמן התחילה סדרה של פגישות פוליטיות באיטליה. באיטליה המפלגה הקומוניסטית האיטלקית, שהייתה מפלגה מאוד חשובה גם באיטליה וגם בעולם הקומוניסטי, הייתה שם דמות אגדית בשם "פאייטה" שישב בכלא אצל מוסוליני והיה כאילו זקן המפלגה. והמפלגה הקומוניסטית האיטלקית, שלא קיבלה פקודות ממוסקבה, הייתה מאוד עצמאית. הייתה בדיחה שיום אחד באים אל המנהיג של המפלגה הקומוניסטית האיטלקית ששכחתי את שמו ואומרים: “אסון! קרה אסון נוראי!" אומרים: "מה יש?" "הייתה תערוכה של אמנות מודרנית במוסקבה, ובא חרושצוב לתערוכה, הסתכל בתמונות ואמר: זה נראה כאילו ציירו את זה עם זנב של חמור. אסון! האיטלקים חובבי אמנות, ישמעו דבר כזה, אנחנו נפסיד את מחצית הקולות. אז המנהיג אמר: להיפך, אנחנו נסתייג מהאמירה הזאת ואנחנו נרוויח 100% נוספים". אז המפלגה הקומוניסטית הזאת, שהייתה מאוד סימפטית, מאוד שונה מכל המפלגות הקומוניסטיות שאני הכרתי, כולל הישראלית, הייתה פתוחה. היו עושים ישיבות, עושים הפסקות בשביל לאכול במסעדה טובה וחוזרים. איטלקים! תמיד אמרתי שהם פחות דוגלים בקארל מארכס מאשר במקיאבלי. אז המפלגה הקומוניסטית האיטלקית הזמינה את המפלגות האחרות, שכולם שיתפו אתה פעולה בעניין הזה, והחליטו לעשות ועידת שלום גדולה ישראלית-ערבית. ועשו ועידת הכנה ברומא. הייתי שם. הייתה ועידה גדולה, שהייתה אמורה להיות הכנה לוועידה העיקרית בבולוניה. ושם בבולוניה ייפגשו משלחות חשובות מכל העולם הערבי וישראל.‏

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: Israel, Moscow, Abdel Nasser

Duration: 3 minutes, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017