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Our Jerusalem


Joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration in support of prisoner release
Uri Avnery Social activist
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היה נעים לשוחח אתו, נעים להיות אתו. אנחנו עשינו כמה פעולות ביחד. למשל, אחרי אוסלו כולנו חשבנו שעם הסכם אוסלו ישחררו את האסירים הפלסטיניים. אני לא יודע כמה היו אז, 10,000 או משהו כזה, זה נראה מובן מאליו. וכשזה לא בא, זה גם הפתיע אותנו. גם ראינו שיצחק רבין לא לגמרי מחוייב לעניין, שיצחק רבין תופס את השלום כעניין פורמאלי – הסכמים והסכמות שחותמים עליהם, ולא תופס את המהות הרעיונית, הנפשית של עניין השלום. אילו רבין היה מיד משחרר את כל האסירים כולם, כפי שמקובל אגב במוסר הצבאי – כשחותמים על שלום משחררים את שבויי המלחמה - אילו זה היה קורה ו-10,000 איש היו חוזרים איש איש לכפרו ולשכונתו זה היה מחולל מהפיכה במצב הרוח של הציבור הערבי בארץ, משכנע אותו שעניין השלום זה דבר אמיתי. רבין לא היה איש כזה – לתת משהו תמורת לא כלום? והוא היה מאוד נתון להשפעה של אנשי הצבא, מומחים כאילו לבטחון, שבדרך כלל לא מבינים כלום בבטחון, חוץ מהטכניקה הצבאית. אז החלטנו לעשות הפגנה משותפת בפעם הראשונה אחרי אוסלו. ליד שכם יש בית כלא גדול שנקרא, שכחתי, משהו כמו סוואד, משהו כזה. ועשינו הפגנה שקראו לה אוריינט האוס, פייסל חוסייני ואנחנו, "גוש שלום”. וזו הייתה בוודאי ההפגנה הכי גדולה שאי-פעם הצלחנו לגייס, אני חושב שהיו 10,000 מפגינים, משהו כזה. למען האמת בעיקר ערבים משכם והמשפחות של האסירים. אבל גם כמות, מספר לא קטן של ישראלים. עצרו אותנו כמובן הצבא, והסכימו לתת לשלושה אנשים לגשת עד לשערי הכלא ולהגיש עצומה. ובמקום שלושה אנשים שהיו הלכנו. זה גרם אח"כ לצרה גדולה מאוד, מפני שאת המשלחת הזאת פשוט גייסנו במקום, עמדנו בהתייעצות "אתה, אתה, אתה", והלכנו. אבל היו לנו נשים ב"גוש שלום" והן עשו סקנדל: "מה פתאום? שלושה גברים! איפה הנשים?!" זה גרם למהומה גדולה מאוד ב"גוש שלום" והרבה נשים פרשו ובזמן אמת אני בכלל לא חשבתי על זה.‏

It was nice to talk with [Faisal Husseini], it was pleasant to be with him. We did a few things together. For example, we all thought that after the Oslo Accords the Palestinian prisoners would be set free. I don't know how many there were then, 10,000 or so – it seemed obvious. And when it didn't happen, it surprised even us. We also noticed that Yitzhak Rabin didn't appear to be fully committed to the matter, that he regarded peace to be a formality − treaties and agreements that are signed on, and he didn't seem to understand the essence of the conceptual, the spiritual aspect of peace. If Rabin had released all of the prisoners immediately as is customary in military morality − when you sign a peace treaty you release the prisoners of war – if that had happened and 10,000 people would have returned, every man to his village and to his neighbourhood, it would have revolutionized the mood of the Arab public in Israel, convincing them that the matter of peace was real. Rabin was not such a man − to give something for nothing? He was influenced by the military people, experts on matters like security, who usually don't know anything about security, but only military techniques. So we decided to hold a joint demonstration for the first time since Oslo. Near Nablus there is a large prison, I forget what it is called, something like Soad, something like that. And we held a demonstration that had been called for by Orient House, Faisal Husseini and us, Gush Shalom. And that was certainly the biggest demonstration we were ever able to rally, I think there were 10,000 demonstrators, something like that. To be perfectly honest it was mostly Arabs from Nablus and families of the prisoners. But quite a lot, a not insignificant number of Israelis. Of course the army stopped us, and agreed to let three people go as far as the gates of the prison and submit a petition. And right away, three of the people who were there went. Afterwards it caused a lot of trouble, because we simply recruited this delegation on the spot, we consulted, said, 'You, you and you', and we left. But we had women in Gush Shalom who created a scandal: 'Why three men? Where are the women?!'  This caused a great uproar in Gush Shalom and many women left, and at the time I didn't even think about it.

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: Oslo Accords, Gush Shalom, Faisal Husseini, Yitzhak Rabin

Duration: 4 minutes, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017