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Why I didn’t become a Canaanite


Finding my place on the political spectrum
Uri Avnery Social activist
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ואחרי עוד שנה אני החלטתי שזה כבר לא בשבילי; אני גם, מבחינה רעיונית אני עברתי, תהליך של "שמאליזציה" נגיד. אני התחלתי לאהוב קיבוצים ואת ההתיישבות העובדת בכלל, ואת כל הרומנטיקה הזאת והאידיאולוגיה הזאת, אצ"ל ורוויזיוניזם, במיוחד רוויזיוניזם. עזבתי את אצ"ל, זה היה משבר נוראי, אני זוכר את הערב הזה - באחד הספרים שלי אני חושב שאני כתבתי על זה - יושבים בכיתה, הכיתה באפלה טוטאלית, היינו מתכנסים אז בגימנסיה ביל"ו בסוף שדרות רוטשילד ויושבים. פלוגה, אולי רק מחלקה, של 40 איש, ובחושך בא אחד עם קול עמוק-עמוק-עמוק, לא ידענו מי זה, והתחיל לנאום לנו על אצ"ל, על המשך הדרך, ואמר: "מי שלא הולך איתנו בדרך הזאת שיקום עכשיו וילך”. ואני לא יודע מה אחז בי, ממש כאילו כוח עליון, אני קמתי בחושך, הלכתי לקראת הדלת ויצאתי, לבדי. והלכתי ברחובות, אני זוכר, כמו משוגע איזה כמה שעות, ועזבתי. אני עוד נשארתי במפלגה הרביזיוניסטית איזה כמה חודשים. ראיתי שזה ממש לא אני, זה לא השקפת העולם שלי, והתחלתי ללכת אל "הישוב המאורגן" מה שנקרא, אל תנועות העבודה. זה לא היה קל, מפני שאני הייתי מתויג שם כאיש אצ"ל, זאת אומרת אני לא יכולתי להיכנס ל"הגנה", לא יכולתי לחלום על זה ללכת לפלמ”ח. אבל התחילה איזה אודיסיאה. אני כמה שנים, שנתיים-שלוש, הצטרפתי ופרשתי לכל מיני ארגונים, מפלגות, ניסיתי לגבש השקפת עולם.‏

And after a year I decided it was no longer for me. Also, conceptually, I underwent a process of, let's call it 'lefticism'. I started to like kibbutzim and the collective agricultural labour settlements in general and, with all of this romanticism and this ideology, I left Etzel and revisionism, especially revisionism. There was a terrible crisis, I remember that evening − I think I wrote about it in one of my books − sitting in the classroom. The classroom was in total darkness; we would gather then at the Bilu gymnasium at the end of Rothschild Boulevard and just sit there. A squad, perhaps just a platoon, of 40 people and in the darkness someone came with a really deep, deep voice, we did not know who it was, and he began to speak to us about the Irgun, about the road ahead, and said: 'Whoever is not going with us on this road should get up now and leave'. I do not know what it was that got hold of me as if it was some kind of higher power, I got up in the darkness, I walked towards the door and left, alone. I remember walking through the streets for several hours, like some crazy person, and I left. I remained in the Revisionist party for a few months. I saw that it really was not for me, it was not my worldview, and I started to go for the 'organized settlement', as it was called, to the labour movement. It wasn't easy because there I was labelled as being with Etzel, which meant that I couldn't get into the Haganah. I couldn't even dream of going to Palmach. But a real odyssey had started. For a few years, two or three years, I joined and left all kinds of organizations, political parties, trying to formulate a worldview.

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: Etzel, kibbutzim, Revisionist Zionism

Duration: 3 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017