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Joining the army


‘We vowed to you, Homeland’
Uri Avnery Social activist
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The pamphlet appeared in September, a few days before the UN plan. They had already determined when the UN would accept the decision of the General Assembly to pass the resolution. We had a fellow named Zolotov, Nahum Zolotov, in our department. Why is this important? Because we are sitting in the house that he built, he built this house. He studied at the Technion, and he was also an amateur painter. I told him that I wanted to publish a special pamphlet of In the Struggle and asked him if he would illustrate the cover. He promised he would. I went to Haifa, he gave me the sketch and at night in the hotel in Haifa, Hotel Weiss, we were listening to the radio, and suddenly we heard: 'Yes. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No'. Boom. The UN decision, the General Assembly had decided on the partition of the country into an Arab state and a Jewish state. For me it was bad news. I had never imagined that this country could be divided. I rose up against this idea. And on the spot I wrote a poem that appeared. A few days later we published this pamphlet, with this cover, and on the first page there was the poem that I wrote and it goes like this: 'We swore to you, Homeland, that on the day of your most bitter / greatest and united lowest point, that you will rise up from the ashes / and lighten the hearts of your sons, the cruel wound / to bear your flag from the sea to the desert'.  Now, in the second and third stanzas, I clarify this absolutely that when I say 'your sons' I mean both the Jews and the Arabs in a common country. It was with this that I entered war. The war broke out the following day, and it was clear to me from the very first moment of that war that it was a fateful time in every sense of the word for the Jewish settlement. Also for the Arab settlement.  This will be a war of life and death, and no man with self-respect could remain outside of the army.


החוברת הופיעה בספטמבר, כמה ימים לפני תוכנית האו”ם. כשכבר קבעו מתי האו"ם יקבל את ההחלטה, העצרת הכללית תקבל את ההחלטה, היה לנו בחוג שלנו בחור בשם זולוטוב, נחום זולוטוב. למה זה חשוב? מפני שאנחנו יושבים בבית שהוא בנה, הוא בנה את הבית הזה. הוא למד בטכניון, והוא גם היה ככה צייר חובב. ביקשתי ממנו שאנחנו נוציא חוברת מיוחדת של "במאבק" ושהוא יצייר את העטיפה. הוא הבטיח. נסעתי לחיפה, נתן לי את השרטוט ובלילה בבית מלון בחיפה, מלון וייס, שמענו רדיו, ופתאום הודיעו: "כן, כן, כן, לא, כן, כן, לא" בום. האו"ם החליט, העצרת הכללית החליטה על חלוקת הארץ למדינה ערבית ומדינה יהודית. בשבילי זה היה בשורת איוב. אני לא העליתי על דעתי שאפשר את הארץ הזאת לחלק. התקוממתי נגד הרעיון הזה. וכתבתי בו-במקום שיר שהופיע. כעבור כמה ימים הוצאנו את החוברת הזאת עם השער הזה, ובעמוד הראשון יש שיר שכתבתי והולך ככה: "נשבענו לך מולדת ביום שפלך המר/גדולה ומאוחדת תקומי מעפר/ימאיר בלב בנייך, הפצע האכזר/עד יינשאו דגלייך מים ועד מדבר״. עכשיו, הבית השני והשלישי מבהירים לחלוטין כשאני אומר "בנייך" אני מתכוון גם לעברים וגם לערבים במדינה משותפת. עם זה נכנסתי למלחמה.

המלחמה פרצה למחרת היום, ולי היה ברור מהשנייה הראשונה שיש מלחמה ושעת גורל במלוא מובן המילה לישוב העברי. גם לישוב הערבי. וזאת תהיה מלחמה לחיים ולמוות ואדם המכבד את עצמו לא יכול להישאר מחוץ לצבא.‏

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: Technion, In the Struggle, Nahum Zolotov

Duration: 3 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017