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Losing the 1973 elections


Touring the battlefronts with a TV crew
Uri Avnery Social activist
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ואז מה יש לעשות? באו אלי חיילים: "האם אתה חוזר לתל אביב?" אמרתי "כן". אמר: "אתה מוכן לקחת הודעה להוריי? להגיד להם שאני חי?" ואז פתאום איזה מאות חיילים מהפקק הצטופפו סביבנו, כל אחד חיפש פיסת נייר ועפרון וכתב מספר טלפון ושם, ואספתי את זה. ערימה של פתקים כאלה. ראינו שלהתקדם לא נוכל, אז חזרנו חזרה לתל אביב. בדרך ראינו אגד רפואי מה שנקרא, תחנת טיפול רפואי קדמית ויש שם רופא שאני מכיר, אפרים סנה, הבן של משה סנה, וכך הכרתי אותו. משה סנה מראשי המפלגה הקומוניסטית הישראלית בראשית ימי המדינה], הכרתי אותו בתור ילד קטן, אבל פעם ראשונה שהכרתי אותו ממש בתור רופא והתרשמנו וצילמנו. הגרמנים צילמו כמו משוגעים, וחזרנו לתל אביב. מה אני עושה עם חבילת דרישות השלום? הושבתי את כל המערכת, וטילפנו הביתה לכל החיילים. עכשיו, איך אתה מודיע למשפחה בטלפון שהבן שלה בסדר? משפחה יכולה להתעלף במילה הראשונה, מי יכול לטלפן פתאום, זרים? אז לימדתי אותם במשפט הראשון, לפתוח את השיחה בכלל: "הבן שלכם בסדר והוא מבקש...", לפתוח את השיחה בכלל. וככה עד היום יש מאות אנשים שזוכרים את הטלפונים האלה וזוכרים לי את זה לטובה. המלחמה נמשכה אז הצוות לקח אותי לחזית הצפון. חזית הצפון הייתה חזית מעניינת, הרי הצבא הסורי הגיע לכנרת, לגבול הישראלי, והשטח היה מלא טנקים שרופים שלהם ושלנו. והתקדמנו בנתיב החורבן הזה. הגענו עד 22 ק"מ מדמשק בכפר שנקרא סעסע, לא סאסא שלנו כי אם סעסע הסורית. נכנסנו לבתים, ילד לימד אותי,שחתול בערבית זה "קיטה", זה אני זוכר, ילד כזה. סיקרנו את המלחמה די מקרוב וראינו שצה"ל בצפון ניגף לגמרי, ליד הירדן פשוט עצרו. וראיתי את ההתקפה הנגדית בשתי החזיתות. לא עברתי את התעלה באותה הזדמנות, והמלחמה נגמרה.‏

So what could we do? Soldiers came to me: 'Are you going back to Tel Aviv?' I said, 'Yes'. They said, 'Can you take a message to my parents? Tell them I'm alive?' Suddenly a hundred soldiers from the traffic jam gathered around us, everyone looking for a piece of paper and a pencil and to write a name and phone number, and I collected them. A whole stack of these notes. We saw that it was not possible to move forward so we went back to Tel Aviv. On the way we saw Egged Medical as it was called, a front line medical care station and there was a doctor I knew, Ephraim Sneh, the son of Moshe Sneh which was how I had become acquainted with him. I knew him as a little boy, but this was the first time I really got to know him as a doctor and we were impressed and took photographs. The Germans took pictures like crazy, and we returned to Tel Aviv.

What did I do with the stack of greetings? I sat the staff of the newspaper down and we phoned home for all the soldiers. Now, how can you inform the family by phone that their son is all right? A family could faint after the first word. Who might suddenly be calling? Strangers? So I taught them the first sentence to open the conversation with: 'Your son is okay and he asks...' That was how they started the conversation. For this reason to this day there are hundreds of people who remember those calls and remember me well for it. The war continued so the TV crew took me to the northern front. The northern front was interesting. The Syrian army had reached the Sea of Galilee, the Israeli border, and the area was full of burned-out tanks − theirs and ours. We advanced along this path of destruction. We reached a village called Sasa, 22 miles from Damascus − not our Sasa, but a Syrian village called Sasa. We went into homes. There a young child taught me that 'cat' in Arabic is 'kita'. That's what I remember, this child. We covered the war quite closely and saw that the IDF in the north were completely defeated, and next to the Jordan River they simply stopped. I saw the counter-attack on both fronts. I didn't cross the Suez Canal at that time, and the war was over.

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: Yom Kippur War, Ephraim Sneh

Duration: 3 minutes, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017