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Invited to work for Haaretz

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1948: A Soldier's Tale – the Bloody Road to Jerusalem
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Throughout the war I wrote dozens and dozens of articles for Day by Day the evening newspaper of Haaretz about the battles, the action, about existence. Later after the war, I collected them in a book called 1948: A Soldier's Tale – the Bloody Road to Jerusalem which became the biggest bestseller of the time. I think that today, per capita, it remains the number one bestseller [in Israel]. But every now and then I wrote not about our existence and not about the battles, but rather the thoughts that passed through my mind, political thoughts. And regarding these articles Benjamin Tammuz, who was deputy editor of Day to Day and my editor, said: 'This is too serious for Day to Day', and he transferred them to Haaretz, and four or five articles were published in Haaretz. I believe that I have already mentioned In the Struggle and my ideas before the war about the new national movement which would be Jewish-Arab or Arab-Jewish, and would establish a nation-state in Israel. Not bi-national, but one nation. A one-nation state of two peoples, let's say like America, which is an association of many nationalities.

During the war I saw what I saw and I did what I did, and I came to the conclusion that this was it, this chapter is over, there is no other option. But there are two peoples. I saw the two nations, and I reached the conclusion that each of the two nations needs a state of its own. And when I came out of the war that was my opinion. During the war, in those articles that I wrote for Haaretz I began to develop this idea and I said, 'During a war one needs to think about the day after the war, the kind of peace that we want because the idea of the peace one wants affects the course of the war'. This is not my idea. This idea was formulated by the very important British commentator, Basil Liddell Hart, whom I read religiously during World War II and I espoused his ideas. And I wrote in those articles: What do we want? How will the war end? The war must end by us making peace with the Arab world so that we will integrate into the Arab world and become a state within this region composed of Arab countries. An Arab country needs to be established (we did not yet say Palestinian) Arabic. And we needed to conduct the war so that this would be the situation when it ended. Of course it had no reverberation, but it was published. When I was at convalescent home in Givat Brenner. At that time also I voted. It was the first Knesset. I voted Mapam, like everyone else in the army. The army voted Mapam. Mapam included Achdut Avoda and Hashomer Hatzair.

כל המלחמה כתבתי כתבות ל-'יום-יום', עתון הערב של 'הארץ'. על כל הקרבות, הפעולות, על ההוויי, עשרות עשרות. שאחר-כך, אחרי המלחמה, קיבצתי אותם לספר שנקרא בשדות פלשת והפך ל-bestseller הכי גדול של אז. אני חושב שעד היום, פר קפיטה, לנפש, הוא עדיין ה-bestseller מספר אחת. אבל מדי פעם אני גם כתבתי לא על ההווי שלנו ולא על הקרבות, כי אם מחשבות שעברו לי בראש, מחשבות פוליטיות. ואת אלה בנימין תמוז, שהוא היה עורך המשנה של ה'יום-יום' והוא היה העורך שלי, אמר: "זה יותר מדי רציני בשביל 'יום-יום' והעביר את זה ל'הארץ' וזה פורסם ב'הארץ', ארבע-חמש כתבות. אני כבר סיפרתי אני חושב על 'במאבק' ועל הרעיונות שלי לפני המלחמה. על תנועה לאומית חדשה שתהיה יהודית-ערבית, או ערבית-יהודית, ותקים מדינה בארץ. לא דו-לאומית, אלא חד-לאומית. חד-לאומית של שני עמים. נגיד כמו אמריקה, שהתאחדה מהרבה לאומים. במהלך המלחמה ראיתי מה שראיתי, ועשיתי מה שעשיתי, והגעתי למסקנה שזהו זה, הפרק הזה תם, אין לו כל אפשרות. אבל יש שני עמים. ראיתי את שני העמים, והגעתי למסקנה שכל אחד משני העמים זקוק למדינה משלו. וכשיצאתי מהמלחמה זאת הייתה השקפתי. במהלך המלחמה, באותם המאמרים שכתבתי ל"הארץ",

התחלתי לפתח את הרעיון הזה ואמרתי: במהלך של מלחמה צריכים לחשוב על אחרי המלחמה, על השלום שרוצים. מפני שהרעיון של השלום שרוצים, משפיע על מהלכי המלחמה. זה לא רעיון שלי. זה רעיון שנוסח על ידי פרשן בריטי מאוד-מאוד חשוב בשם באזיל לידל-הארט, שאותו קראתי באדיקות במלחמת העולם השנייה ועיכלתי את הרעיונות שלו. וכתבתי באותם המאמרים: מה אנחנו רוצים? איך תסתיים המלחמה? המלחמה צריכה להסתיים בזה שנעשה שלום עם העולם הערבי, שנשתלב בעולם הערבי, שנהיה מדינה בתוך המרחב הזה שהוא מורכב ממדינות ערביות. צריכה לקום מדינה ערבית,  (עוד לא אמרנו פלסטינית) ערבית. וצריכים לנהל את המלחמה כך שזה יהיה המצב כשגומרים אותה. כמובן שזה לא עורר שום הד, אבל זה פורסם. שהייתי בגבעת ברנר בבית הבראה. באותה תקופה גם בחרתי. זה הייתה הכנסת הראשונה. בחרתי מפ"ם, כמו כולם בצבא. הצבא בחר מפ”ם. מפ"ם שכלל "אחדות העבודה" ו"השומר הצעיר.‏

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: Day by Day, Haaretz, 1948: A Soldier's Tale – the Bloody Road to Jerusalem, In the Struggle, Haaretz, Basil Liddell Hart, Achdut Avoda, Hashomer Hatzair

Duration: 5 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017