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Geneva Peace Conference fails to boost our poll ratings


The Egyptian’s unique concept of time
Uri Avnery Social activist
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הצורה המצרית היא שאין שום יחס לזמן, מצרי אומר "חמסה דקייק",חמש דקות זה יכול להיות כל דבר: יכול להיות שעה, חמש שעות, חמישה ימים, כל דבר. חמש דקות. זמן פשוט לא קיים כנתון. ואתה בא לשם עם המושגים האירופים שלנו ואז יש שתי אפשרויות, אין שלישית: או שאתה מקבל את זה ומתחיל לזרום עם זה, ואז לזמן אין זמן והפגישות לא פגישות. או שאתה משתגע. אני ראיתי אנשים משתגעים. הלא רשת הטלפונים במצרים באותה עת הייתה איומה. רצית לדבר עם שרים, השרים אמרו לך: "תתקשר בבקשה בשש בבוקר, מפני שאחר-כך לא תקבל קשר”. ואני טלפנתי לבוטרוס ראלי לא פעם בשש בבוקר, כשאני ישן. והיה צוות גרמני של החברה הגרמנית "טלפונקן" להתקין רשת טלפונים חדשה בקהיר. ויום אחד המהנדס הראשי נתקל בי ואני חושב שהאיש מוכן לבית המשוגעים. תולש את שערותיו: "לא יכול יותר, אי-אפשר, אי-אפשר לעבוד ככה”. אני הצלחתי לזרום. אני באמת הרגלתי את עצמי - ואת יודעת שאני ייקה דייקן - הרגלתי את עצמי ברגע שאני עובר את הגבול לעשות סוויץ', פשוט לסובב את הכפתור ולא איכפת לי כלום מהזמן. במצרים באמת השתחררתי לחלוטין מכורח הזמן. ידעתי שהפגישה לא פגישה, זמן לא זמן, והכל מתגשם. והפלא הוא: הכל מסתדר! אתה יכול לאחר, הפגישה יכולה להתאחר שעתיים, יכול להיות זה וזה וזה, בחמש הדקות האחרונות הכל מסתדר. ראיתי את זה עשרות פעמים וממש התרגלתי לזה – לא להתרגש, לא ללחוץ, זה יבוא מעצמו, וכו'. זהו. זה האהבה שלי למצרים, שנשארה קיימת למרות שאני כבר שנים לא הייתי שם.‏

In Egypt there is no regard for time, the Egyptians say hamsa daqayiq. Five minutes could be anything: it could be an hour, five hours, five days, anything. Five minutes. Time simply does not exist as a given. We arrive there with our European concepts and then there are two options, there is no third: either you get it and go with it and then time has no time and meetings are not meetings, or you go crazy. I've seen people go crazy. After all, the telephone network in Egypt at that time was terrible. You wanted to talk with ministers, the ministers said: 'Call at 6:00 in the morning, because later there won't be any connection'. I called Boutros-Ghali more than once at 6:00 in the morning, when I was still half-asleep. A German team from the German company Telefunken came to install a new telephone system in Cairo. One day, the chief engineer bumped into me and I thought the man was ready for the nuthouse. He was tearing his hair: 'I can't take it any longer, it is impossible, it is impossible to work like this'. I was able to go with the flow. I managed to get used to it − and you know I am a punctual yekke – but I taught myself to make the switch as soon as I crossed the border; simply turn the knob, I do not care at all about time. In Egypt, I totally disconnect from the restrictions of time. I knew that a meeting is not a meeting, that time is not time, and that somehow things materialize. And the wonder of it is that it all works out! You can come late, the meeting can be two hours late, this can be and that can be, and during the last five minutes, everything falls into place. I've seen it dozens of times and just got used to it − not to get excited, not to be pressured, it will happen by itself, and so on. That's it. That is my love for Egypt, which has remained despite the fact that I have not been there for years.

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: Egypt

Duration: 2 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017