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You must be a fool if you’re not afraid


Bil’in – a symbol of struggle
Uri Avnery Social activist
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אז ככה הגענו ל-95'. המאבק של "גוש שלום" התמקד יותר ויותר בהפגנות בשטחים הכבושים, ובעיקר במקום שנקרא בילעין. בילעין הפכה לסמל. למה דווקא בילעין ולא מקום אחר? קשה להסביר. מפני שבבילעין היו מנהיגים לפחות שניים, אולי אפילו יותר, שהנהיגו את המאבק הזה. שבוע שבוע במשך שנים. והם לא שקעו בשגרה של הפגנות. קל מאוד לשקוע בשגרה של הפגנות, בייחוד ההפגנות בסגנון קומוניסטי. קומוניסטים הם מטבעם אנשים מאוד מיושנים. מישהו המציא את התיאוריה ואת הפרקטיקה של הקומוניזם במאה ה-19 בעצם, ועוד יותר במאה ה-20 ויש לזה שטנץ קבוע, דפוס קבוע שהם לא יכולים לזוז ממנו ימינה ושמאלה. אותן הפגנות שתמיד נראות אותו דבר: שלט גדול, מאחוריו המנהיגים בשורה הראשונה, אח"כ זה, עם המון סיסמאות, צועקים, שלטים. בבילעין היו ראשים יצרניים דווקא בצד הערבי. הייתי בעשרות הפגנות בבילעין שכל אחת הייתה שונה מהאחרת. זה קצת הזכיר את ההפגנות שעשינו עם שייח' ראאד בתקופת רבין הראשונה נגד גירוש האיסלמים. שניים אלה, ואולי גם החברים שלהם חשבו איזה עוקץ חדש לתת. אשתו של אדם קלר, שהיא הולנדית במוצאה, היה לה מכר, נגן פסנתר חשוב בהולנד והוא היה מוכן לבקר בארץ. אז העמסנו פסנתר ישן - אני לא מספיק מוזיקלי בשביל לדעת אם הוא זייף או לא - העמסנו אותו על משאית ועשינו הפגנה שבראשה הפסנתר מנגן ואח"כ הוא עשה קונצרט בבילעין עצמה וכל הכפר בא לשמוע מוזיקה קלאסית – שומן, שוברט, שניהם. ופעם אחרת לקחנו את כל הילדים של הכפר והם הלכו בראש, וככה אנחנו ניסינו לגוון. פעם הם בנו איזה מין תא של בית סוהר עם סורגים וזה הלך בראש, כל מיני דברים כאלו. ממש היה תענוג לעבוד אתם, היו אנשים נהדרים, אני מאוד אהבתי אותם. והם כמובן נכנסו ויצאו מבית הסוהר, אסרו אותם מדי פעם.‏


So that's how we got to 1995. The struggle of Gush Shalom increasingly focused on demonstrations in the occupied territories, and especially in a place called Bil'in. Bil'in became a symbol. Why Bil'in and not somewhere else? It's hard to explain. There were leaders in Bil'in at least two, maybe even more, who led this struggle every week for years. And they didn't sink into the routine of demonstrations. It is very easy to sink into a routine of demonstrations, particularly communist-style protests. Communists are by nature very old-fashioned. Someone came up with the theory and practice of communism in the 19th century, in fact even more in the 20th century, and it has a fixed mold, a pattern they cannot move from, neither left nor right. The same demonstrations which always look the same: a big sign, behind it the leaders in the first row, then the demonstration with lots of slogans, shouting and placards. In Bil'in there were actually creative heads on the Arab side. I was in dozens of demonstrations in Bil'in, and each one was different. They reminded me of the demonstrations we held with Sheikh Raed during the Rabin administration against the deportation of the Islamists. These two, and perhaps even their friends, were thinking about which new thing to sting with. The wife of Adam Keller, who is Dutch by birth, had an acquaintance, an important pianist in Holland, and he was ready to visit Israel. So we loaded an old piano − I'm not musical enough to know if it had been tuned or not − on a truck and conducted a demonstration led by the pianist who was playing, and then he gave a concert in Bil'in itself and the whole village came to hear classical music by both Schumann and Schubert. Another time we took all the children from the village and they led the demonstration, and that's how we tried to diversify. Once they built some kind of a prison cell with bars which was put at the head and led the demonstration – things like that. Really it was a pleasure to work with them, they were great people and I really liked them. And of course they were in and out of jail, occasionally they were arrested.

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: Gush Shalom, Bil’in

Duration: 4 minutes, 25 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017