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Israel invents a pretext to bomb Beirut


Anwar Sadat’s revolutionary initiative
Uri Avnery Social activist
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So that's how we reached the Sadat initiative. It should first be mentioned that Begin came to power in 1977. Sadat's initiative – and this needs to be said − like all of the peace initiatives, including the Oslo talks, was carried out behind the backs of the Americans. The Americans had no idea any of this was happening. Sadat had gone to [Bruno] Kreisky.  My friend Kreisky was also a great friend of Sadat's and apparently brought about his revolutionary initiative to which there was no precedent. We are no longer able to understand it. It was a revolutionary act on Sadat's part. He asked Kreisky, 'Can I rely on Begin, is he truthful?' Kreisky said: 'I think so, but you should ask Ceaușescu who would be better informed'. So he flew to Bucharest, spoke with Ceaușescu. Ceaușescu said: 'You can count on Begin, he gives the impression of being a truthful man'. Then, while he was flying over Mount Ararat in Turkey, according to Sadat's version of the story, he reached his decision. And I think he also went to Damascus and made enquiries there. He understood that they were not with him, so he decided to take the initiative alone. I think the American ambassador in Cairo heard about this the day before the speech in the Egyptian parliament. He notified him. This is very important. The Americans later took credit for this initiative, as they did for Oslo, but both this and Oslo were conducted behind the backs of the Americans, otherwise it would never have happened. That's it. Then he came [to Israel], Mr Sadat. There was a welcoming reception that I also attended, and Begin introduced me and as the editor of HaOlam HaZeh, and I had only one thought in my mind: to get to Egypt quickly!

אז ככה הגענו ליוזמת סאדאת. צריכים להזכיר בהקשר הזה קודם שבגין הגיע לשלטון ב-77’. היוזמה של סאדאת, כדאי תמיד להזכיר את זה, כמו כל יוזמות השלום, כולל אוסלו, נעשתה מאחורי גבם של האמריקאים. האמריקאים לא היה להם שום מושג שזה קורה. סאדאת נסע לקרייסקי. קרייסקי ידידי היה גם ידיד גדול של סאדאת וכנראה גמלה בלבו של סאדאת היוזמה הזאתי המהפכנית ללא דוגמה בכלל. היום אנחנו כבר לא מבינים את זה. אקט מהפכני מצידו של סאדאת זה היה. והוא שאל את קרייסקי האם אפשר לסמוך על בגין, האם הוא איש אמת. וקרייסקי אמר: "אני חושב שכן, אבל כדאי לך לשאול את צ'אוצ'סקו שהוא יודע יותר". אז הוא טס לבוקרשט, דיבר עם צ’אוצ'סקו. צ'אוצ'סקו אמר לו: "אתה יכול לסמוך על בגין, הוא עושה רושם של איש אמת”. ואז כשהוא טס מעל להר אררט בטורקיה, על-פי הסיפור שלו עצמו, של סאדאת, גמלה בליבו. ואני חושב שהוא עבר גם בדמשק וגישש שמה. ראה שהם לא ילכו אתו, אז הוא החליט ליזום. אני חושב שהשגריר האמריקאי בקהיר שמע על זה יום לפני הנאום בפרלמנט המצרי. הוא הודיע לו. זה מאוד חשוב. האמריקאים אח"כ ניכסו לעצמם את היוזמה הזאת, כמו שהם ניכסו לעצמם את אוסלו. אבל גם זה וגם אוסלו נעשו אחרי גבם של האמריקאים, אחרת זה בכלל לא היה יוצא לפועל. זהו, אז הוא בא, אדון סאדאת. הייתה קבלת פנים שגם הייתי, ובגין הציג אותי בפניו, ואני כעורך "העולם הזה" ובכלל, הייתה לי רק מחשבה אחת בראש, להגיע למצרים מהר.‏

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: Anwar Sadat, Bruno Kreisky, Nicolae Ceaușescu

Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017