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Divide and rule


No pig deserves to reach this age
Uri Avnery Social activist
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There is nothing much to say about one's 80th birthday. There is a popular saying in German: 'No pig deserves to reach this age'. Eighty was old. We held a sort of rally at Tzavta; I don't remember much about it, except that some renowned people came to honor me. But I made a condition that they would not talk about me. If there's one thing I despise it is public birthdays when people get up one after the other, man after man and woman after woman, and praise the 'birthday boy' − praise him and glorify him; it is very unpleasant. So I made a condition: I agreed to have a birthday celebration, but it would be a symposium on the subject of peace. And some highly respected people came to make a speech. I think that Meron Benvenisti came.  I oppose his views completely, but really respect and like him, and a few other individuals. It was nice, let's put it that way. I never imagined then that I would live this long, but it has happened.

[Q] Do you want at this opportunity to also talk about your 90th birthday?

I can already jump to my 90th birthday although it's a bit mixed up in my mind, I don't remember anything special about the 90th.  At my 90th birthday, Rachel was no longer with us and that, of course, changed everything. In between – at the same place, it was always at the same place, at Tzavta – there was the eulogy gathering for Rachel, which was also very impressive. It was impressive because people spoke and revealed how much everyone had loved and especially appreciated Rachel. I think I've talked about that separately; it was very moving. And on the screen behind us we showed pictures of Rachel's life, it was quite touching.

על יום הולדת 80 אין הרבה מה להגיד. בגרמנית יש אמרה עממית – "שום חזיר לא מגיע לגיל הזה”. 80 זה היה הרבה. ערכנו עצרת כזאת ב"צוותא", לא זכור לי מזה הרבה, חוץ מאשר שכמה וכמה אנשים מכובדים באו לכבד אותי. אבל העמדתי תנאי שלא ידברו עלי. אם יש דבר אחד שאני מתעב זה ימי ההולדת הפומביים האלה שקם איש אחרי אשה ואשה אחרי איש ומהללים את חתן השמחה, משבחים אותו ומקלסים אותו, זה מאוד לא נעים. אז אני העמדתי תנאי: אני מסכים שתהיה חגיגת יום הולדת, אבל זה יהיה סימפוזיון על נושא השלום. ובאו כמה אנשים מכובדים מאוד לנאום. אני חושב שהיה מירון בנבנישתי שאני מתנגד לדעותיו לגמרי, אבל מאוד מכבד ומחבב אותו, ועוד כמה אישים. היה נעים, נגיד ככה. לא תיארתי לי אז שאני אחיה עוד כל כך הרבה שנים, אבל זה קרה.

מראיינת: אתה רוצה באותה הזדמנות לדבר גם על יום הולדת 90?‏

אני יכול לקפוץ כבר ליום הולדת 90. אצלי בראש זה מעורבב קצת, אני לא זוכר מה המיוחד ביום הולדת 90. ביום הולדת ה-90 רחל כבר לא הייתה וזה כמובן שינה את כל העניין. ובאמצע הייתה, באותו מקום, הכל באותו מקום, בצוותא, הייתה עצרת ההספד לרחל, שגם היה מאוד מרשים. היה מרשים מפני שדיברו אנשים והתגלה עד כמה שכולם אהבו ובעיקר העריכו את רחל, שעליה נדמה לי שדיברנו לחוד, היה מרגש, מאוד. ועל המסך מאחורינו הקרנו תמונות מחייה של רחל, זה היה די נוגע ללב.‏‏

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: Tzavta, Meron Benvenisti, Rachel Avnery

Duration: 4 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017