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Sharon the extreme megalomaniac


Right-wing strategy to replace ruling Mapai party
Uri Avnery Social activist
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He forced Begin. Begin didn't want to unite. Begin detested Shmuel Tamir because Shmuel Tamir had tried to stab him in the back and Begin was a man with a Polish sense of moral justice and had never forgiven him. After the War of Liberation, the War of Independence as it was called, the 1948 war, Shmuel Tamir appeared on the stage, joined the Likud Party, of course. He scorned Begin: 'This Polish fellow…' Tamir was an Israeli, spoiled, from a privileged family in Jerusalem, a distant relative of Berl Katznelson, and for him Begin was a foolish Pole with his ridiculous speeches. So he waited for the first opportunity, the Herut conference, and then declared a rebellion. He was sure that he would have an easy victory. He didn't understand Begin. Then Begin came and made his 'Begin'y' speech and the entire Likud conference fell at his feet and ousted Shmuel Tamir and Eliezer Shostak who had joined him. There were two completely new young men who became his henchmen. One was Akiva Nof and the other was Ehud Olmert, and they pushed them out of Herut.

Then began the odyssey. I think I mentioned that there were strong ties between us during the junior Ben-Gurion period, the Kastner Affair, and it didn't go his way. That is, the party founded by Tamir split: Shostak and Ehud Olmert went in one direction, Tamir remained with Akiva Nof. At the end, after all the failures, Tamir came back to Herut with his tail between his legs, as they say. Herut received him, but Begin personally really hated him, despised him. Why was I talking about this?

So Arik Sharon decided, despite his hatred [for Begin], that it didn't matter as long as he appealed to the public and provided an alternative to Mapai which had ruled continuously for two generations, the Zionist Organization had governed continually approximately since 1933. And the ruling party and Mapai was one and the same thing – the government and Mapai was the same thing. And Mapai had control of the economy. Everything. So another party to oust Mapai… it had to be a unified party that unites all the Israeli right, and Begin accepted this. I mean when Arik Sharon started this initiative, right-wing public opinion was entirely in his favour. He was also a national hero at that stage.

והוא הכריח את בגין. בגין לא רצה להתאחד. בגין שנא שנאת מוות את שמואל תמיר, מפני ששמואל תמיר ניסה לתקוע לו סכין בגב ובגין היה אדם עם חוש מוסרי פולני כזה ולא סלח לו מעולם. אחרי מלחמת השחרור, מלחמת העצמאות כפי שקראו, מלחמת תש”ח, שמואל תמיר הופיע על הבמה, הצטרף כמובן ל”ליכוד". בז לבגין: "זה פולני…". תמיר היה בן הארץ, מפונק, ממשפחה מיוחסת בירושלים, קרוב-רחוק של ברל כצנלסון, ובגין היה בשבילו פולני מצחיק עם הנאומים המצחיקים שלו. אז הוא חיכה להזדמנות הראשונה, ועידת "חרות", והכריז מרד. היה בטוח שהוא ייקח את זה בקלות. הוא לא הבין את בגין. ואז בגין בא ונאם נאום "בגיני" וכל ועידת "הליכוד" השתפכה ממש לרגליו וגירשו את שמואל תמיר ואת אליעזר שוסטק שהצטרף אליו. והיו שני צעירים חדשים לגמרי שהיו נושאי הכלים שלו, אחד עקיבא נוף ואחד אהוד אולמרט, וגירשו אותם מ"חרות". ואז התחילה אודיסיאה. אני חושב שדיברתי שהיו קשרים חזקים בינינו בתקופת בן גוריון הקטן ופרשת קסטנר, ולא הלך לו. זאת אומרת המפלגה שהקים תמיר קודם כל התפלגה: שוסטק עם אהוד אולמרט הלכו לכיוון אחד, תמיר נשאר עם עקיבא נוף. ובסוף, אחרי כל הכשלונות, תמיר חזר עם "הזנב מקופל" כמו שאומרים ל”חרות". "חרות" קיבלו אותו, אבל בגין אישית ממש שנא אותו, שנא אותו שנאת מוות. למה אני סיפרתי את זה? אז אריק שרון החליט, למרות השנאה הזאת לא משנה בשביל לפנות לציבור להיות תחליף למפא"י ששלטה שני דורות בלי הפסק, מאז 1933 בערך בהסתדרות הציונית שלטון רצוף. ו"שלטון" ומפא"י זה היה היינו הך בכלל, הממשלה ו-מפא"י זה היה אותו הדבר. ומפא"י החזיקה בידה את כל המשק. הכל. אז בשביל מפלגה אחרת להדיח את מפא”י, זאת צריכה להיות מפלגה אחידה שמאחדת את כל הימין הישראלי. ובגין קיבל את הדין. זאת אומרת כשאריק שרון התחיל ביוזמה הזאת, דעת הקהל בימין הייתה כולה בעדו. הוא גם היה הגיבור הלאומי באותו שלב.‏

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: Likud, Mapai, Herut, Kastner Affair, Menachem Begin, Shmuel M Tamir, Ariel Sharon, David Ben-Gurion, Berl Katznelson, Eliezer Shostak, Akiva Nof, Ehud Olmert

Duration: 4 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017