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Becoming a journalist


My Hebrew name
Uri Avnery Social activist
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For each of us, the Jewish youth of that time, there was no doubt that on our 18th birthday we would go to the British regional office and change our names to Hebrew. It was simply taken for granted. We looked with disdain at the people who, for all kinds of excuses, stuck with their names from the diaspora. And that, of course, was totally ingrained in our worldview. When I say 'our' I'm talking about everybody, the entire settlement, that we here constituted something new which belonged to the place, which belonged to this land, and we severed our ties with the diaspora, and so we would no longer bear our names from the diaspora. Green became Ben-Gurion and Shertok became Sharett, and we were all just waiting for the day, at the age of 18, when we could change our names. So I looked for a name. There were some people who simply took their Gregorian name and translated it into Hebrew, and that was that. Glaser became Zagagi and so on. I didn't like that. I wanted a new brand name. If to renew then, to renew everything: last name and first name. I had reached this time just after my brother was killed. My brother was named Werner and I called him Avner so I decided to call myself Avnery. I tried to coordinate a personal name that would fit it, and that is how Uri Avnery was created. It happened in stages. There was also a time when I was called Arial Avnery, and before that, when I came to Israel, at the Jaffa port I was already called by the name Joseph after my grandfather. That is how Uri Avnery was born.  And that is how we reached the year 1947, a year in which everything changed.

לכל אחד מאתנו, הנוער העברי של אז, לא היה שום ספק שביום ההולדת ה-18 אתה הולך למשרד המחוז הבריטי ומשנה את שמך לעברית. זה היה כל כך מובן מאליו. היינו מסתכלים בבוז באנשים שבכל מיני תירוצים דבקו בשמות הגלותיים שלהם. וזה כמובן היה טבוע בכל השקפת העולם שלנו. "שלנו" אני מדבר על כולם, כל הישוב, שאנחנו פה מהווים דבר חדש ששייך למקום, שהוא שייך לארץ הזאת, ואנחנו מנתקים את הקשר שלנו עם הגלות, ואנחנו לא נישא שמות גלותיים. ו"גרין" הפך לבן גוריון ו"שרתוק" לשרת, וכולנו רק חיכינו ליום הזה שיכולנו בגיל 18 לשנות את השם. אז אני חיפשתי שם. היו כאלה שפשוט לקחו את השם הלועזי שלהם, תרגמו אותו לעברית וזהו. "גלייזר" הפך לזגגי וכן הלאה. לא מצא חן בעיניי, אני רציתי שם לגמרי חדש. אם לחדש אז, לחדש את הכל, שם משפחה וגם שם פרטי. בדיוק הגעתי לזמן הזה אחרי שאחי נהרג. אחי שמו היה ורנר, אני קראתי לו "אבנר" והחלטתי לקרוא לעצמי אבנרי וניסיתי לתאם שם פרטי שיתאים וככה נוצר אורי אבנרי. זה אגב עבר שלבים. היה גם זמן שנקראתי אריאל אבנרי, ולפני זה, כשבאתי לארץ קראו לי, בנמל יפו כבר קראו לי בשם "יוסף", בשם הסבא שלי. כך נולד "אורי אבנרי”. וככה הגענו ל-1947, שנה שבה השתנה הכל.‏

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: David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, David Grün, Moshe Shertok

Duration: 2 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017