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Faisal Husseini – a true aristocrat


Abu Sitta’s solution for resettling refugees
Uri Avnery Social activist
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מצאנו חן זה בעיניי זה, הייתה לנו שיחה קולחת על בעיית הפליטים, איך היא נוצרה, איך לפתור אותה. הפתרון שלו היה נראה לי קצת משונה, הוא עמד על כך שכל הפליטים צריכים לחזור לישראל, אבל לא לכפרים שלהם שכבר רובם לא קיימים, אלא שלישראל יש שטח ענק בנגב, ריק מאדם, שמה יישבו את כל הפליטים כך שהם לא יגרשו אף אחד מביתו. השבתי באדיבות שזה מאוד לא נראה לי, מפני שבשביל הפליטים האלה לחזור לנגב לא אומר להם כלום, זה כמו לחזור לעיראק או לסוריה, הם רוצים לחזור לבתים שלהם, הבתים שלהם כאמור אינם. אז לא הסכמנו בסוף, אבל הייתה לנו שיחה מאוד ידידותית. כשגמרנו אני שולף את הארנק שלי ורוצה לשלם, הוא אומר: "בשום פנים ואופן לא, אני אשלם". "אבל אני הזמנתי אותך!" הוא אומר: "לא, אני הזמנתי אותך”. אז נכנעתי, מה גם שהוא בטח היה פי אלף יותר עשיר ממני, ואמרתי, כדרכם של הישראלים: "בסדר, הפעם אתה תשלם, בפעם השנייה אני אשלם". הוא אומר: "לא, בשום פנים לא. אילו הייתי מסכים שפעם הבאה אתה תשלם, אז אני כאילו לא שילמתי. אני משלם, ואני אשלם גם פעם הבאה, כדי שזה יהיה שאני שילמתי". בסדר, אני מאוד חיבבתי אותו. לצערי לא נפגשנו עוד פעם. הוא הוציא אטלס של ארץ ישראל ב-48’, דבר כזה, ענק, עבודה עצומה שהושקעה בו. וכאמור הוא היה, הוא איש עשיר מאוד, אני לא יודע איפה הוא עכשיו. זהו, אז זה ההרפתקה בפאריז.‏

[Abu Sitta and I] liked each other. We had a steady conversation about the refugee problem, how it was created, how to solve it. His solution seemed to me a little strange. He insisted that all the refugees should return to Israel, but not to their villages which mostly no longer existed, but since Israel has a huge unoccupied area in the Negev, the refugees could settle there so that they wouldn't be expelling anybody from their homes. I replied politely that I didn't think so, since for these refugees to return to the Negev does nothing for them. It would have been like going back to Iraq or Syria. They wanted to return to their homes, homes which no longer exist. So in the end we didn't agree, but we had a very friendly conversation. When we finished I pulled out my wallet and wanted to pay. He said: 'Absolutely not, I will pay'. 'But I invited you!' He said: 'No, I invited you'. So I gave in, especially as he must have been a thousand times richer than me, and I said, as the Israelis like to say: 'OK, this time you pay, next time I'll pay'. He said: 'No, no way. If I agree that next time you will pay, it is as if I didn't pay. I pay, and I will pay next time too, so that it will be me who pays'. Okay, I really liked him. Unfortunately, we didn't meet again. He published an atlas of the Land of Israel in 1948, something like that, huge, an enormous amount of work was invested in it. And as I said, he was a very rich man. I don't know where he is now. That's it, then there was the adventure in Paris.

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: Negev, Salman Abu Sitta

Duration: 3 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017