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Don’t discriminate against the Mizrachi


Sheli – left camp of Israel
Uri Avnery Social activist
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[Q] 1977! In 1977 you were elected to the Knesset.

Yes... Oh, Sheli! I lost the election in 1973, but didn't despair. I decided that it was like a car accident − we would fix it next time. At the beginning of 1977, I planned a serious election campaign. I started by writing this booklet with a hundred and something sections: A Plan for the State of Israel.  I feel quite proud of this booklet to this day. And, just like The Hebrew Manifesto we wrote in 1957 − a difference of 40 years − in 1977 [sic], I wrote a plan that was far beyond the program or political platform of a regular party. A plan for a complete change in the State of Israel and in all areas of life. And we printed it, and we started election campaigning, and I started to appear here and there. We had no money, and this time there was no government funding, because we were not an existing faction. Somehow, I scraped money from HaOlam HaZeh and I appeared in places where there was no need to pay, coffee shops or places like that. Then there was an initiative. All of the small peace factions were worried about their future. Then came the idea − I think it was Lova Eliav's initiative − to establish a common list of all the peace organizations and so on, and discussions started. Lova Eliav, it should be mentioned, had resigned from the Labour Party. He had been Secretary of the Labour Party, had quarrelled with Golda [Meir] − it was impossible not to quarrel with Golda if you didn't succumb totally − and me, HaOlam HaZeh – Koah Hadash.

I forgot to mention here that among all of the nonsense that I did before the previous election, in 1973, I noticed that a faction had been established – Moked – that was in direct competition with us for the same audience with the same slogans, imitating our slogans, with deletions. So things which were unpopular, such as refugees and things like that, they just deleted. But after four years in the Knesset, Moked didn't gain momentum. Meir Pa'il was active. You could say he was a very social individual, very nice, very appealing, but not the genius of his generation.  And the people from Maki were involved, remnants of the communists who were also nothing special. So they also were afraid that they would not pass the threshold.

מראיינת: 77'! ב-77' נבחרת לכנסת. אה, של"י! אני הפסדתי את הבחירות ב-73' אבל לא התייאשתי. החלטתי שזאת הייתה תאונת דרכים, נתקן את זה בפעם הבאה. ובהתחלת שנת 77' אני תכננתי מערכת בחירות רצינית. התחלתי בזה שכתבתי חוברת של מאה וכמה סעיפים: "תכנית למדינת ישראל”. אני די מתגאה בחוברת הזאת עד היום. והיא, כמו המנשר העברי שעשינו ב-57’ - 40 שנה הבדל - ב-77' חיברתי תכנית שהיא הרבה מעבר לתכנית או מצע פוליטי של מפלגה רגילה. תוכנית לשינוי מוחלט של מדינת ישראל על כל תחומי החיים. והדפסנו את זה, והתחלנו בתעמולת בחירות והתחלתי להופיע פה ושם. לא היה לנו כסף והפעם גם לא היה מימון ממשלתי, מפני שלא היינו סיעה קיימת. איכשהו גירדתי כסף מ"העולם הזה" והופעתי במקומות שלא היה צורך בכסף, בתי קפה או מקומות כאלה. ואז נוצרה יוזמה. כל סיעות השלום הקטנות חרדו לגורלן. ואז בא הרעיון, אני חושב שהיוזם היה לובה אליאב, להקים רשימה משותפת של כל ארגוני השלום וכן הלאה, והתחילו דיונים. לובה אליאב, צריכים להזכיר, פרש ממפלגת העבודה. היה מזכיר מפלגת העבודה, רב עם גולדה - אי-אפשר היה לא לריב עם גולדה אם לא נכנעים כניעה טוטאלית - ואותי, "העולם הזה כוח חדש”. שכחתי להזכיר פה שבין כל השטויות שעשיתי לפני הבחירות שלפני זה, ב-73', ראיתי שקמה סיעת "מוקד", שהתחרתה בנו תחרות ישירה על אותו הקהל עם אותן הסיסמאות, חיקוי של הסיסמאות שלנו, עם מחיקות. זאת אומרת דברים לא פופולאריים כמו "פליטים" ודברים כאלה פשוט מחקו. אבל "מוקד" אחרי ארבע שנים בכנסת לא צברה תאוצה. מאיר פעיל היה, נגיד ככה, איש מאוד חברותי, מאוד נחמד, מאוד מושך אבל לא גאון הדור. ואנשי מק”י בתוך זה, השאריות של הקומוניסטים גם כן לא היו מי יודע מה. אז הם גם פחדו שלא יעברו את אחוז החסימה.‏

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: Sheli, A Plan for the State of Israel, The Hebrew Manifesto, Maki, Knesset, Moked, HaOlam HaZeh – Koah Hadash, Aryeh 'Lova' Eliav, Golda Meir, Meir Pa’il

Duration: 4 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017