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Welcome to Cairo!


Voting for peace with Egypt
Uri Avnery Social activist
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We have reached... I resigned in February 1981, but I still managed to participate in an important vote on peace with Egypt!  I was invited to the Knesset for Sadat's speech although I was not a member; for special occasions like this it is customary to invite former, living MKs, and they sit in the Assembly behind the members of Knesset. When Sadat came, I sat among the former MKs. By the time of the peace treaty I was back in the Knesset again, so I voted in favor of Begin. I will keep the sequence... Following Sadat's speech, during which, like I said, I was sitting at the back, I decided that come what may, I must get to Egypt immediately! The first person to arrive there was Gilady from the television, from the sports, Alex Gilady. A very nice guy, very much like Joe Golan whom I've mentioned, Joe Golan, someone who immediately connects with people, and everyone likes him and so on, so he got there first and Ehud Yaari, an expert on Arab affairs who does not like Arabs. He always had a sour look on his face when he was talking about Arabs. And I, without waiting for anything, I took a photographer named Setter, we flew to Athens and took a flight to Cairo. In Athens, airport officials raised an eyebrow, saying: 'We do not see a visa for Egypt'. I said: 'The visa is waiting for us there'. That was it, why would they care? So we took a plane, flew from Athens to Cairo. I remember crossing the coastline of Egypt; I really didn't know what would happen to us in Cairo.

התפטרתי כאמור בפברואר 81’. הספקתי עוד להשתתף בהצבעה חשובה אחת: זה היה השלום עם מצרים! בנאום של סאדאת בכנסת לא הייתי חבר אבל כמובן הוזמנתי. לדברים חגיגיים כאלה רגילים להזמין את חברי הכנסת לשעבר שנשארו בחיים והם יושבים באולם המליאה מאחורי חברי הכנסת. וכשבא סאדאת אני ישבתי בין חברי הכנסת לשעבר. ועד שהיה הסכם השלום אני כבר הייתי חבר כנסת בחזרה, אז הצבעתי בעד בגין. אחרי הנאום של סאדאת, שכאמור ישבתי מאחור, אני החלטתי: יהיה מה שיהיה, אני מוכרח להגיע למצרים מיד! הראשון שהגיע לשם היה גלעדי, מהטלוויזיה, מהספורט, אלכס גלעדי. אדם מאוד נחמד. גם כן אחד כמו שההוא שהזכרתי, ג'ו גולן, אחד שקושר קשרים מיד עם כולם וכולם אוהבים אותו וכן הלאה, אז הוא הגיע לשם ראשון,יחד עם אהוד יערי, מומחה לעניינים ערבים שלא אוהב ערבים. יש לו תמיד איזה הבעה חמוצה כזאת כשהוא מדבר על ערבים. ואני פשוט, בלי לחכות לשום דבר לקחתי צלם, סתר היה שמו, טסנו לאתונה ולקחנו טיסה לקהיר. באתונה הפקידים בנמל התעופה הרימו גבה, אמרו: "אנחנו לא רואים את הוויזה למצרים”. אמרתי: "הוויזה מחכה לנו שם”. זהו, אז מה איכפת להם? אז לקחנו מטוס, טסנו מאתונה לקהיר. אני זוכר את החוויה כשעוברים את קו החוף למצרים, ממש לא ידעתי מה יקרה לנו בקהיר.

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: Cairo, Athens, Egypt, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Alex Gilady, Ehud Yaari

Duration: 3 minutes, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017