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Supporting Palestinians


Rachel, the lioness
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Sirhan and I were real soul mates. When I received the Peace Prize of the city of Aachen in Germany, we were told that we needed to bring an Arab friend with us because the beauty of the award ceremony was that Palestinian Arabs would also be present, and of course we immediately chose Sirhan. He came with us and attended all the ceremonies and everyone liked him. He is a very affable person and very pleasant. He had diabetes, I have diabetes. I have a little sugar, he has a lot of sugar. After the ceremony we were walking along the street, Sirhan, Rachel and I, and we passed a German bakery. The Germans are famous for their cakes. Germany is the world capital of cakes. Sirhan saw the bakery, ran into the store and returned with a huge cream cake and began to eat it. And Rachel, like a lioness, jumped on him and took the cake out of his mouth. I don't think that in the history of the Arab nation it had ever happened that a woman had dared to do that. But he gave in – he really loved her.

This plate is a plate from the municipality of al-Ramm that was given to me at the memorial service for Rachel. We went to all the al-Ramm demonstrations against the barrier wall. We saw the wall being built slowly before our eyes. We met Sirhan's family. Rachel became very friendly with Sirhan's mother. After all, when you visit an Arab friend you always get the same picture: the living room is where the Arab friend sits with his friends and with us, and our women and the Arab women are in the other room where a man is not allowed to enter. When we visited Sirhan's house in al-Ramm, Rachel would go into the next room. They really liked her. There were also demonstrations when the women came, Arab women. Sirhan's mother was an elderly woman, but she was at all the demonstrations, she was a real fighter.

סירחאן הפך לידיד בנפש, ממש. כשקיבלתי את פרס השלום של העיר אאכן בגרמניה, אמרו לנו שאנחנו מתבקשים להביא חבר ערבי, מפני שיפה שבטקס הענקת הפרס יהיה גם נוכח ערבי פלסטיני, ומיד כמובן בחרנו בסירחאן. הוא בא אתנו ונכח בכל הטקסים וכולם אהבו אותו. הוא אדם מאוד נוח לבריות ונעים הליכות. והוא היה לו סוכרת, לי יש סוכרת. לי יש סוכר קטן, לו היה סוכר ענק. ואנחנו הולכים אחרי הטקס ברחוב, סירחאן רחל ואני, ועוברים ליד קונדיטוריה גרמנית. הגרמנים מפורסמים בעוגות שלהם. גרמניה זה הבירה העולמית של עוגות. וסירחאן רואה את זה, קופץ לתוך החנות, חוזר עם עוגת קרם ענקית כזאת ומתחיל לאכול. ורחל כמו לביאה קופצת עליו מוציאה לו את העוגה מהפה. לא חושב שבהיסטוריה של האומה הערבית זה אי-פעם קרה שאשה תעז. אבל הוא נכנע לה, נורא אהב אותה. הצלחת הזאת היא צלחת של עיריית א-ראם שמסרו לי באזכרה לרחל. הלכנו לכל ההפגנות של א-ראם נגד החומה. ראינו את החומה נבנית לאט לאט, לנגד עינינו. הכרנו את המשפחה של סירחאן. רחל מאוד התיידדה עם האמא של סירחאן. הרי כשמבקרים חבר ערבי אז תמיד יש אותה תמונה: בסלון יש את החבר הערבי עם החברים שלו, ואנחנו, והנשים שלנו, והנשים הערביות הן בחדר השני, שגבר לא יכול להיכנס אליו. כשהיינו מבקרים אצלו בבית ב-א-ראם, רחל הייתה נכנסת לחדר השני. נורא אהבו אותה. והיו הפגנות שהנשים גם היו באות, נשים ערביות. אמא של סירחאן הייתה אשה קשישה, הייתה בכל ההפגנות, הייתה לוחמת אמיתית.

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: al-Ramm, Sirhan Saleima, Rachel Avnery

Duration: 3 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017