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The ‘Avnery theory’


Issam Sartawi did not have an 'Arab' mind
Uri Avnery Social activist
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היו כל מיני תכניות, חלק עוד מהתקופה של חמאמי. אולי צריך להסביר כאן מה קרה בין חמאמי וסרטאווי, מה פתאום ערפאת שלח איש חדש? לפי הגירסה של סרטאווי, היה לחמאמי ליקוי אחד: חמאמי היו לו קודם לכן מגעים עם אנשי רק"ח הערביים וכשהתחילו המגעים אתי ואח"כ אתנו, הוא לא ניתק את המגעים האלה. אנשי רק"ח באו לבקר אותו והוא קיבל אותם וכו’. סרטאווי היה בעל מוח לא ערבי, אם להתבטא בצורה גזענית. באמריקה לגמרי אימץ לעצמו את דרכי המחשבה האמריקאיות, שזה מאוד נדיר אצל הערבים, מפני שהערבים יש להם איזשהם ערכי יסוד וגישות יסוד שלא מתחלפים. עניין הכבוד למשל. בתרבות הערבית עניין הכבוד ממלא תפקיד כמו עניין הכסף אצל היהודים – זה מעל לכל, ופגיעה בכבוד זה אצל הערבים לא עובר בשקט. סרטאווי היה לגמרי אחר. הוא ממש היה "מערבי" (במרכאות). אז סרטאווי אמר לערפאת: "זה לא הולך. אנחנו רוצים להגיע לממסד הישראלי, בין הממסד הישראלי לבין רק"ח, הקומוניסטים, יש שנאה עמוקה, אנחנו צריכים להחליט: או-או. לא הולך גם וגם”. וככה הוא הביא למעשה להדחת חמאמי מהמגעים האלה, והוא קיבל לידיו באופן בלעדי את כל המגעים עם הישראלים. ככל שאנחנו שיתפנו פעולה, הקשרים האישיים בינו וביני הלכו והתהדקו. היו לי בחיים מעט מאוד ידידיי אמת אמיתיים, ואני חושב שסרטאווי היה אחד מהם, אם לא הראשון בהם. ממש אהבתי אותו, את דרך המחשבה שלו וכו'. ואנחנו סמכנו זה על זה באופן מוחלט. סיפרנו אחד לשני את הכל, כולל מה שקורה בתוך אש"ף, מי ומה וכו'. היינו הולכים לאכול בפריז במסעדות. הוא אהב מסעדות טובות, גם אני, ויצאנו הרבה פעמים גם סתם ככה.‏

There were all sorts of programs, some from the Hammami period. Perhaps I should explain here what happened between Hammami and Sartawi, and why Arafat sent someone new. According to Sartawi, Hammami had one major fault: he had been in contact with the Arab Rakah people, and when they began negotiations with me and later with us, he did not sever these contacts. People from Rakah came to visit him and he received them. Sartawi did not have an Arab mind, if one may make a somewhat racist declaration. In America, he totally adopted the American ways of thinking, which is very rare among the Arabs, because the Arabs have personal core values and fundamental approaches which they do not modify. The matter of honor, for instance. In the Arab culture the matter of honor plays a significant role, as does the matter of money in respect of the Jews − this comes above all else, and this kind of insult cannot be overlooked by the Arabs. Sartawi was completely different. He was really 'Western'. So Sartawi told Arafat: 'This isn't going to work. We want to reach the Israeli establishment. Between the Israeli establishment and Rakah, the communists, there is a deep hatred, and we have to decide: either/or. It cannot be both'. And this was how Hammami was deposed from these contacts and Sartawi was given all of the connections with the Israelis exclusively. As long as we cooperated, the personal ties between him and me strengthened. I have had very few true and genuine friends in my life but I think Sartawi was one of them, if not the first.  I really liked him, his way of thinking and so on. And we trusted each other completely. We told each other everything, including what was happening within the PLO, who and what and so on. We would go to eat in restaurants in Paris. He also loved good restaurants, as I did, and we often went out just like that.

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: Rakah, Said Hammami, Issam Sartawi

Duration: 3 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017