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A meeting of minds


Geneva Peace Conference fails to boost our poll ratings
Uri Avnery Social activist
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הייתה "מלחמת יום כיפור" שהיא נפלה באמצע מערכת הבחירות לכנסת השביעית. ואני הייתי כבר בתנופה מלאה של תעמולת הבחירות של הרשימה, לא במיוחד דאגתי מפני שידעתי שעשינו עבודה טובה. באמת עשינו עבודה טובה בכנסת, והקהל שלנו מרוצה מאתנו, כך שממש לא דאגתי וניהלתי מערכת בחירות רגועה ובאמצע… זה כבר סיפרתי שישב פה פרופ' קרייטלר והתחילו הצופרים והייתה המלחמה. כשהמלחמה נגמרה, גולדה סירבה לדחות את מערכת הבחירות. סירבה לחלוטין לפתוח את רשימת המועמדים, הייתה דרישה לפתוח את רשימת המועמדים, דברים השתנו. לא הסכימה בשום פנים. ואנחנו שינינו קו לחלוטין. את הדגש של מערכת הבחירות העברנו לחיילים. חיילים ישבו מעבר לתעלה. המוני חיילים היו מגוייסים. ממש הפנינו את כל מערכת הבחירות שלנו, את כל התעמולה שלנו לעבר החיילים האלה, שהתברר בדיעבד שזו הייתה טעות. הבחירות היו ביום האחרון של 1973, 31 בדצמבר, תכף אני אספר לך סיפור על זה. ולא נשאר הרבה זמן. מלחמת אוקטובר נגמרה באמצע נובמבר אני חושב. והאמריקאים רצו לכנס ועידת שלום, שלמעשה תהיה בהנהגה אמריקאית, למרות שגם הסובייטים היו כאילו שווים לאמריקאים. שני יו"ר שווים: – קיסינג'ר וגרומיקו, ואז בא הרעיון לנצל את זה בשביל מערכת הבחירות. לשלוח אותי עם צוות צילום לז'נבה, כעיתונאי, לצלם אותי בוועידה ובצורה זאת לשים דגש על הקשר שלנו לשלום. וכך היה. נסענו לז'נבה, התאכסנו במלון הזה הנהדר. כעיתונאי ישבתי על יציע העיתונאים ועשו צילומים מאוד יפים שאני יושב, פה גרומיקו ופה קיסינג'ר לרגליי, וזה כמובן לא עזר. אנחנו צילמנו והשתמשתי בזה בתעמולת הבחירות, בסרטים של הטלוויזיה וכאמור זה לא עזר.‏

It was 1973, the Yom Kippur War which fell in the middle of the electoral campaigns for the seventh parliament. And I was already in full swing for the election campaigns of the list. I was not especially worried because I knew we had done a good job. We really had done a good job in the Knesset, and our followers were satisfied with us − so really I was not concerned and the campaign was going smoothly and right in the middle of it… I've already mentioned that Professor Kreitler had been sitting here and the sirens went off and the war began. When the war ended, Golda [Meir] refused to postpone the elections. Absolutely refused to open the list of candidates although there was a demand to open the list of candidates as things had changed. She would not agree on any account. We changed direction completely then and the focus of the campaign moved to the soldiers, who were stationed on the other side of the [Suez] Canal. A massive number of soldiers were still enlisted. We just changed the focus of our election campaign, and all of our propaganda was directed towards these soldiers, which in retrospect turned out to be a mistake.

The election took place on the last day of 1973, December 31. I am about to tell you a story about it. There wasn't much time left. The October War ended in mid-November, I think, and the Americans wanted to convene a peace conference which would, in fact, be under American leadership, even though the Soviets were to all intents and purposes equal in stature to the Americans. Two equal chairmen:  [Henry] Kissinger and [Andrei] Gromyko. Then came the idea to utilize this [peace conference] for the election campaign, to send me with a camera crew to Geneva as a journalist to film the conference, and in this way to emphasize our connection to peace. And so it was. We went to Geneva and stayed in this great hotel. As a journalist I sat in the press gallery and we took some really marvelous photographs which showed me sitting with Gromyko and Kissinger below me, but of course that didn't help us. We filmed and used the films and photographs for our election campaign, for movies on television but, like I said, it didn't help. 

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: Yom Kippur War, Geneva Peace Conference, Henry Kissinger, Andrei Gromyko

Duration: 4 minutes, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017