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Returning to the Knesset


Ranking election candidates on a whim
Uri Avnery Social activist
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There were all kinds of strange incidents during the election campaign. I wanted to talk about one incident, but I've forgotten what it was. We'll return to this. It was a good election campaign, well put together, and it was a pleasure to work with these people. Yes, I've remembered what I wanted to talk about. We had no money, but we nevertheless wanted to be new and fresh, so we conducted our election propaganda differently. We held an election campaign meeting during a picnic in the Ben Shemen forest and families came. Our audience was a younger crowd and they all came with their families and children and it was really a lot of fun. In the middle of it, someone came to me and said: 'Lova is calling you – we need to have an urgent meeting'. Fine. I looked for Lova under a tree where we all gathered and Lova said: 'There is a problem'. 'What's the problem?' Ran Cohen was number 2 in Moked and therefore got seventh place. Ruth Dayan, on behalf of Lova Eliav, was in sixth place − he was in seventh place, Amnon Zichroni in eighth place and so on. Ran Cohen's wife had left him and married his best friend, the painter cartoonist from Gan Shmuel. He now had a girlfriend new, an Ashkenazi of course, and the new girlfriend told him categorically that she found it unacceptable that he should be in seventh place. He ought to be at least in sixth place, so he was demanding to be moved up one place on the list to sixth place. I thought this was ludicrous and repulsive. Ridiculous − because I never even dreamed that we could get six mandates. I had some experience with elections, and I really didn't like this way of doing things. But Lova wanted peace and Ruth Dayan said: 'I don't care − if he wants sixth place, I'll take seventh place, why not?' Ruth was a very nice woman, and that's what they did. Amnon Zichroni retired from the list in disgust; it was a kind of incident along the way. They asked me: 'How many mandates will you get?' I repeated my old saying: 'I hope for two, I would be delighted if there were three, but I'm not sure there will be even one'.  And so it was: we got two. And Lova Eliav and Meir Pa'il entered the Knesset. But prior to that we had made a rotation agreement.

היו כל מיני אינסידנטים מוזרים במערכת הבחירות הזאת. רציתי לספר על אינסידנט אחד אבל ברח לי. יחזור במועדו. והייתה מערכת בחירות יפה, היה הרכב יפה, היה די תענוג לעבוד בחברה הזאת. כן, נזכרתי מה אני רציתי לספר: מכיוון שלא היה לנו כסף, מצד שני רצינו להיות חדשים ורעננים, עשינו תעמולת בחירות בשיטות לא רגילות. עשינו אסיפת בחירות בתור פיקניק ביער בן שמן, ובאו משפחות. הקהל שלנו היה קהל צעיר כולו ובאו משפחות עם ילדים והיה ממש כיף מאוד. באמצע הכיף בא אלי מישהו ואומר: "לובה קורא לך, צריכים לעשות ישיבה דחופה”. בסדר. מחפש את לובה מתחת איזשהו עץ, התכנסנו כולנו ולובה אומר: "יש בעיה". "מה הבעיה?" רן כהן, שהיה האיש מס' 2 במוקד ולכן הוא קיבל את המקום ה-7, רות דיין מטעם לובה אליאב מקום 6, הוא במקום שביעי, אמנון זכרוני מקום שמיני וכן הלאה. אשתו של רן כהן ברחה ממנו והתחתנה עם החבר הכי טוב שלו, הצייר הקריקטוריסט מגן שמואל. יש לו חברה חדשה, אשכנזיה כמובן, והחברה החדשה אמרה לו: בשום פנים היא לא מסכימה שהוא יהיה במקום 7, הוא צריך להיות לפחות במקום 6, אז הוא דורש לעלות מקום אחד ברשימה למקום 6. זה נראה לי גם מגוחך וגם מאוס. גם מגוחך, מפני שלא חלמתי שנקבל שישה מנדטים. לי היה ניסיון מה זה מערכת בחירות, וגם הצורה הזאת מאוד לא מצאה חן בעיניי. אבל לובה, שרצה שלום-בית ורות דיין הייתה "בכלל לא איכפת לי, אם הוא רוצה מקום 6 אני אהיה מקום 7, למה לא?" רות היא אשה נורא נחמדה, וכך היה. אמנון זכרוני מתוך מיאוס פרש מהרשימה, זה היה מין אינסידנט בדרך. שאלו אותי: "כמה אתם תקבלו מנדטים?" ואני חזרתי על הנוסחא הישנה שלי: "אני מקווה לשניים, אשמח מאוד אם יהיו שלושה אבל לא בטוח שיהיה אפילו אחד”. וכך היה: קיבלנו שניים. ולובה אליאב ומאיר פעיל נכנסו לכנסת. אבל לפני זה היה הסכם רוטציה.‏

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: Ben Shemen, Knesset, Gan Shmuel, Aryeh 'Lova' Eliav, Ruth Dayan, Ran Cohen, Matti Peled, Amnon Zichroni

Duration: 4 minutes, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017