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Shielding Yasser Arafat from attack


Rachel and the Gypsy violinist
Uri Avnery Social activist
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When we wrote the book on this long journey, we were greatly assisted by Tommy Lapid's book on restaurants. We followed Tommy's guide and it helped us. It was an excellent guide, helped us a lot to find the really best restaurants, and so on.

I recall another scene. We were in a very good restaurant in Budapest and there was a small Gypsy orchestra and somehow − it happened to Rachel occasionally − her eyes locked with the eyes of the lead musician, a violinist, and he forget about the rest of us and simply played for Rachel. Out of all the audience a very strange connection occurred between her and the Gypsy violinist. We found out later that he was a professor of music, not just a violinist. But Rachel was an artist at creating all kinds of connections with all kinds of people of all types, and it really helped on these trips. The journey ended when we were in the Reichstag Square where people were celebrating Germany's reunification, in front of the Reichstag building. The Reichstag had been partially destroyed by the fire that helped Hitler rise to power, and in front of the Reichstag there is now a large square. There was going to be a celebration and a few people were already there. We stood among the people and spoke with one person and another. Gradually, the square filled up and eventually it became crowded, more crowded than Rabin Square. Rachel had a panic attack and suddenly began to feel that the crowds pushing towards her and so we escaped while we still could.

So the book was published with moderate success, it did not become the next Soldier's Tale.

כשכתבנו את הספר במסע הארוך הזה, מאוד נעזרנו בספר של טומי לפיד על המסעדות. אנחנו הלכנו ממש עם המדריך של טומי, הוא עזר לנו. זה היה מדריך מצויין, עזר לנו הרבה למצוא את המסעדות הטובות באמת, וכן הלאה. אני נזכר בעוד סצינה, היינו במסעדה מאוד טובה בבודפשט והייתה שם תזמורת קטנה של צוענים ואיכשהו, איך שזה קרה לרחל מדי פעם, העין שלה ננעלה עם עינו של הנגן הראשי, כנר, והוא התחיל לשכוח את כולנו ולנגן לרחל פשוט מאוד. מתוך כל הקהל הזה נוצר איזשהו יחס מוזר מאוד בינה ובין הכנר הצועני, שהסתבר אח"כ שהוא היה פרופ' למוזיקה, לא סתם כנר. אבל רחל הייתה אמנית ביצירת כל מיני קשרים עם כל מיני אנשים מכל הסוגים, וזה מאוד עזר בנסיעות האלה. המסע הסתיים כשהיינו בכיכר הרייכסטאג כשחגגו את חג האיחוד, לפני הרייכסטאג. הרייכסטאג כאילו היה הרוס בחלקו מהשריפה שעזרה להיטלר לעלות לשלטון, ולפני הרייכסטאג יש כיכר גדולה. הייתה אמורה להיות חגיגה, היו כמה אנשים, עמדנו שם בין כמה אנשים, דיברנו עם פלוני ועם אלמוני. ולאט לאט הכיכר התמלאה ובסוף היא נעשתה צפופה, יותר צפופה מכיכר רבין. ורחל קיבלה קלסטרופוביה. פתאום היא הרגישה שיש המון נדחק אליה ברחנו כל עוד נפשנו בנו. אז הספר הופיע, הייתה לו הצלחה מתונה, לא הפך לבשדות פלשת מס' 2.‏

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: Budapest, Reichstag Square

Duration: 3 minutes

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017