a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian issue


The different sides of Yasser Arafat
Uri Avnery Social activist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

While [Arafat] was still in Gaza, I asked some of my best friends in the profession, journalists, if they would like to meet him, so I organized a delegation of journalists and writers and we went to Gaza, and it was a good meeting. I remember Yaron London pulling me aside as he was leaving and saying: 'He's completely different than I thought he was'. And this happened to everyone who met Arafat. Face-to-face he's a surprising figure because he is completely unlike the Arafat we all knew from the media. I also saw it in Beirut. There were two Arafats, perhaps more: the moment Arafat saw a camera directed at him, a TV camera, he became a different person, physically. He had very gentle brown eyes, which on the television looked mad, fanatical, crazy − just like an Israeli imagines Arafat to be – and his body language changed. On a personal level, Arafat was totally different: never excited, always affable, courteous, an easy person to connect with. All of these writers and journalists were amazed, because they had simply met a person whom they had never known. We brought another few delegations to Gaza and then he moved to Muqata in Ramallah and we met him in various places in Israel. I remember once we met him in Hebron, but normally I would visit him in Muqata. I don't want to give a political speech here about what happened between him and Rabin and what happened with the Oslo Accords. I had a long talk with Rabin about the PLO and he said: 'I will not take the first small step toward the PLO...the Palestinians because the first small step will inevitably lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, which I do not want'. And yet he signed on Oslo!

עוד כשהוא היה בעזה אני שאלתי את מיטב חבריי למקצוע, העיתונאים, אם הם רוצים להיפגש עם ערפאת, וארגנתי משלחת של עיתונאים וסופרים וירדנו לעזה והייתה פגישה יפה. אני זוכר את ירון לונדון[1] יוצא מהפגישה, מושך אותי בזרוע ואומר: "הוא אדם לגמרי אחר מכפי שחשבתי”. וזה קרה לכל אדם שפגש את ערפאת. ערפאת, פנים אל פנים הוא דמות מפתיעה מפני שהוא לחלוטין לא דומה לערפאת שכולנו הכרנו מהתקשורת. אני ראיתי את זה גם בבירות. היו שני 'ערפאתים', אולי יותר: ברגע שערפאת ראה מצלמה מכוונת אליו, מצלמה של טלוויזיה, הוא הפך לאדם אחר, פיזית. היו לו עיניים חומות עדינות מאוד, שבטלוויזיה נראו כמטורפות, קנאיות, מטורפות, בדיוק כמו שישראלי מתאר לעצמו את ערפאת, וכל שפת הגוף שלו השתנתה. ערפאת במגע אישי היה אדם לגמרי אחר – לא מתלהם אף פעם, נעים הליכות, אדיב, אדם שקל להתחבר אליו. וכל הסופרים האלה והעיתונאים האלה נדהמו, פשוט הכירו אדם שלא הכירו אותו מעולם. וככה הבאנו עוד כמה משלחות לעזה ואז הוא עבר למוקטעה ברמאללה ואנחנו פגשנו אותו בכל מיני מקומות בארץ: בחברון אני זוכר שפעם פגשנו אותו, אבל בדרך כלל הייתי מבקר אותו במוקטעה. אני לא רוצה עכשיו לתת הרצאה פוליטית מה קרה בינו ובין רבין ומה קרה להסכם אוסלו כזכור. הייתה לי אחת השיחות הארוכות עם רבין על אש”ף, הוא אמר: "אני לא אעשה את הצעד הקטן הראשון לעבר הפלסטינים מפני שהצעד הקטן הראשון יוביל בהכרח להקמת מדינה פלסטינית, שאני לא רוצה בה”. והנה הוא חתם על אוסלו!‏

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: Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin

Duration: 3 minutes, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017