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Shouting match at London City Hall


Issam Sartawi receives death threats
Uri Avnery Social activist
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אבל אני רוצה קודם לעבור לסיפור של סרטאווי. כאמור, סרטאווי היה מאויים. את חמאמי רצחו אנשי אבו נידאל, שאבו נידאל פשוט בא אליו לחדר העבודה שלו, חדר העבודה שלו היה במשרד של הליגה הערבית בלונדון, נכנס פשוט ושלף אקדח והרג אותו ממרחק של שניים-שלושה מטרים. ואני דאגתי לחייו של סרטאווי, גם טיפל'ה לחיים שלי, אבל אנחנו המשכנו. אחרי הפגישה הזאת עם ערפאת שהכל קיבל כבר צביון רשמי לגמרי, רשמי וטכסי. הייתה לנו הופעה משותפת באמסטרדם אני חושב, והופענו ונאמנו יחד והייתה התאמה טובה בינינו. ואח"כ הזמינו אותנו ללונדון, להופיע יחד בלונדון באסיפה הגדולה בבניין של עיריית לונדון. בלונדון אין עירייה, יש עיריית-גג. לכל שכונה יש עירייה ויש מין עיריית-גג כזאת בבניין עגול, והוזמנו לנאום שם. כשאני בא ללונדון ובלונדון היה חוג יהודי של ידידי אש"ף שהם בעצם היו המזמינים, והם אירחו אותי ובאתי אליהם, אין סרטאווי. סרטאווי הודיע שהוא לא יבוא. זה נראה לי נורא מוזר. ואמרו לי שסרטאווי אמר שכשאני אבוא, שאני אטלפן לו בפאריז. טלפנתי לפאריז, עונה לי לטלפון מתי, שהיה עם סרטאווי בפאריז, ואחרי שהוא מסביר לי מה קרה הוא נתן את הטלפון לסרטאווי וסרטאווי אמר: "אני לא יכול לבוא, יש איומים על חיי ויעצו לי לא לבוא". אז אני בטיפשותי הפצרתי בו כן לבוא, וגם היהודים האלה בלונדון הפצירו בו. ולא היה קשה לשכנע אותו, מפני שכבר אמרתי, הוא היה איש מאוד-מאוד גאה והרעיון שירתיעו אותו מלעשות מה שהוא רוצה לעשות באיומים זה פשוט היה בשבילו בלתי נסבל.‏


But first I want to tell the story of [Issam] Sartawi. As I have already mentioned, Sartawi had received death threats. Hammami was killed by Abu Nidal. Abu Nidal just came to him in his office, which was in the Arab League's headquarters in London, simply came and pulled out a gun and shot and killed him from a distance of two to three meters. I was worried for Sartawi's life, and also a bit for my own, but we continued.

After our meeting with Arafat, everything became completely formal – formal and ceremonial. We had a joint appearance in Amsterdam, I think, and we appeared and we spoke together and it worked well. Then, we were invited to London, to appear together in London at a large meeting in the building of the City of London. London does not have a town hall as there are municipalities. Every neighbourhood has a municipality and there is an umbrella municipality in a circular building, and we were invited to speak there. When I came to London where there was a circle of Jewish Friends of the PLO who were actually the ones who had invited us, and they accommodated me and I came to them, but there was no Sartawi. Sartawi has said that he would not come. It seemed very strange to me. I was told that Sartawi had left a message saying that when I arrived, I should call him in Paris. I called Paris and Matti answered the phone – he was with Sartawi in Paris −

[Q] You said he was with Arafat but meant Sartawi?

Yes with Sartawi, and after he explained to me what had happened he gave the phone to Sartawi who said: 'I can't come, there are threats to my life and I was advised not to come'. So, foolishly, I also urged him to come, and these Jews in London pleaded with him. It was not hard to convince him because, as I said, he was a very, very proud man and the idea that he had been discouraged from doing what he wanted to do because of this threat was simply unbearable for him.

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: Issam Sartawi, Said Hammami, Abu Nidal

Duration: 4 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017