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The world of Gershom Shocken


Invited to work for Haaretz
Uri Avnery Social activist
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One day, out of the blue, I got a brief letter from the Editor of Haaretz, Gershom Schocken saying: 'I was sorry to hear you were wounded. Once you have been discharged from hospital, please come and visit me. I would like you to work with Haaretz'. I was 25. My journalistic experience was, as I think I have already said, that I had been the editor of an economics newspaper and a newspaper for women, and wrote for several years for a magazine called The Society. So I was in Givat Brenner for three or four weeks, and when I had time off in Tel Aviv, I went to the offices of Haaretz newspaper on Mazeh Street. I met with Schocken. He liked me for a very simple reason: I had been born in Germany and he preferred Germans over anyone else. Then he said: 'Look, I have a very serious reporter who writes editorials. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is taking him from me and sending him to be an emissary in New York. So if you're prepared to, why don't you work for Haaretz and write the editorial?' There could be no greater compliment than that. I jumped at the opportunity, of course.

When they discharged me from Givat Brenner they sent me... here. The Yona camp was still standing on the spot where the Hilton Hotel is now, where the army's department for rehabilitating wounded soldiers was located. They sent me home. Still not discharged from the army, but released to all intents and purposes. All the time there I was undergoing more and more treatment. I went to Haaretz where they hired me on the spot and I started writing editorials for them. I wrote articles about refugees, the need to solve the refugee problem immediately, and the need to reach an agreement with the Arabs in Israel. And at the same time I wanted to start a group which would disseminate this idea of an Arab state alongside the State of Israel. And with a friend who worked in the military government which at the time was imposed on all of the Arabs in the country, I found two lovely young Arabs who were my age. One was Rostam Bastuni who later became a member of the Knesset on behalf of Mapam. The second was Sheikh Jabr Muadi who was a young Druze leader. Later, he was arrested for the murder of a man who refused to resign [from the Knesset] which they had both agreed to. Then I started a group to disseminate what is today called 'two states for two peoples'.

ויום אחד, מהשמיים, אני מקבל מכתב קצר מעורך "הארץ", גרשום שוקן: "הצטערתי לשמוע שאתה פצוע. כשאתה תשתחרר אנא בוא לבקר אותי, הייתי רוצה שתעבוד ב'הארץ'". הייתי בן 25. הניסיון העיתונאי שלי היה, כמו שכבר סיפרתי אני חושב, שהייתי עורך עיתון כלכלי ושל עיתון לנשים, וכתבתי במשך כמה שנים בכתב-עת שנקרא 'החברה'. אז הייתי בגבעת ברנר שלושה-ארבעה שבועות, וכשנתנו לי חופש לתל אביב, הלכתי לבקר בעיתון 'הארץ' ברחוב מזא”ה. נפגשתי עם שוקן. מצאתי מאוד חן בעיניו, בגלל סיבה מאוד פשוטה: שאני יליד גרמניה, והוא העדיף גרמנים על כל דבר אחר. אז הוא הציע לי, הוא אמר: "תראה, יש לי כתב מאוד רציני שכותב מאמרים ראשיים. משרד החוץ לוקח אותו ממני, הוא שולח אותו להיות ציר בניו יורק. אז אם אתה מוכן, תעבוד ב'הארץ' ותכתוב מאמרים ראשיים”. מחמאה יותר גדולה מזו לא יכולה להיות. קפצתי על זה, כמובן. כששחררו אותי מגבעת ברנר שלחו אותי… פה, במלון הילטון היה עדיין מחנה יונה, ששם התמקמה המחלקה של צה"ל שטיפלה בפצועים משתקמים. שלחו אותי הביתה. עדיין לא משוחרר מצה”ל, אבל למעשה משוחרר. כל זמן שעוד היו טיפולים שאחרי הטיפולים. הלכתי ל'הארץ', שכר אותי במקום והתחלתי לכתוב מאמרים ראשיים ב”הארץ”. אני דחפתי לכתוב מאמרים על הפליטים, על הצורך לפתור את בעיית הפליטים מיד ועל הצורך להגיע להסדר עם הערבים בארץ. ובאותו זמן רציתי לפתוח קבוצה, שתפיץ את הרעיון הזה של מדינה ערבית לצד מדינת ישראל. ומצאתי, בעזרת חבר שעבד בממשל הצבאי שאז היה מוטל על כל הערבים במדינה, מצאתי שני ערבים נחמדים, צעירים, בגילי. אחד היה רוסתם בסתוני, שלימים הפך לחבר כנסת מטעם מפ”ם. השני היה שייח' מועדי, הוא היה מנהיג דרוזי צעיר. אחר-כך עצרו אותו בעוון רצח של אדם שלא התפטר למענו (מהכנסת) כפי שהוסכם ביניהם. והקמתי חוג להפצת הרעיון הזה של מה שנקרא היום "שתי מדינות לשני עמים.‏”


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: Haaretz, The Society, Gershom Schocken, Rostam Bastuni, Sheikh Jabr Muadi

Duration: 4 minutes, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017