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My book brings me fame


Running HaOlam HaZeh on a shoestring budget
Uri Avnery Social activist
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OK, let's get back to the point: HaOlam HaZeh. In April 1950, I bought HaOlam Hazeh. I had 8000 liras. I paid 7300 liras for HaOlam HaZeh and had 700 liras left for working capital to run the magazine, which is nothing. And this was the problem which accompanied HaOlam HaZeh from that moment until the bitter end. We never had money. I should have managed HaOlam HaZeh so that at least it could have held its own. In good times there was a bit more, and in bad times there was a bit less, but we were always only just getting by for 40 years. I bought HaOlam HaZeh at Passover 1950, and I just had time to put the editorial board together. There were no permanent press photographers, there were freelancers who went, photographed something, went from newspaper to newspaper to sell the picture. HaOlam HaZeh had no staff at all.

Here I was, on the eve of Passover in 1950 with a newspaper in hand that hadn't appeared for a week because Uri Kesari used to take a holiday at Passover, with three members of the editorial board whom I had gathered from my circle of acquaintances and still without a photographer because then, as I mentioned, this did not exist. But I had a very, very clear idea of what I wanted to do. That is to say, the plan of the paper that I wanted to print was clear and had nothing to do with HaOlam HaZeh. Why did I purchase HaOlam HaZeh at all instead of starting a new weekly? Because a new weekly newspaper would only have had more or less a few hundred readers, readers, whereas HaOlam HaZeh had an existing circulation. The strategy that I set for myself was to proceed as if nothing had happened. I'd continue to publish it in its current format and slowly change things week by week, until after a few months it would be the newspaper that I wanted with, as far as possible, the existing readership and new readers added.

טוב, נחזור לעניין: "העולם הזה". באפריל 1950 קניתי את "העולם הזה”. היו לי ביד 8,000 לירות. שילמתי בשביל 'העולם הזה' 7,300, נשארו לי ביד 700 לירות בשביל הון חוזר, בשביל להריץ את השבועון, שזה כלום. וזאת הצרה שליוותה את "העולם הזה" מאותו רגע עד הסוף המר. אף פעם לא היה לנו כסף. הייתי צריך לנהל את "העולם הזה” כך שלפחות יקיים את עצמו. בזמנים הטובים היה קצת יותר, בימים הרעים היה קצת פחות, אבל תמיד זה היה על סף הקיום, במשך ארבעים שנה. קניתי את "העולם הזה" בפסח 50', היה לי זמן להרכיב מערכת. לא היו אז צלמי עיתונות קבועים, היו פרילנסרים שהלכו, צילמו משהו, הלכו מעיתון לעיתון למכור את התמונה. "העולם הזה" לא היה staff בכלל. הנה אני עומד, ערב פסח 1950, ביד עיתון שלא הופיע שבוע - מפני שאורי קיסרי היה נוהג לעשות חופשה בפסח - עם שלושה מהחברי מערכת שאספתי מחוג מכירי. עדיין בלי צלם מערכת, שאז כאמור לא היה קיים. אבל עם רעיון מאוד-מאוד ברור מה אני רוצה לעשות. זאת אומרת, התוכנית של העיתון שאני רוצה להוציא, היה ברור לגמרי, ולא היה לו שום קשר עם "העולם הזה" כמו שהוא היה קיים באותו רגע. למה אני קניתי את "העולם הזה" בכלל ולא הקמתי שבועון חדש? משום ששבועון חדש היה נשאר עיתון עם כמה מאות, או משהו כזה, קוראים, בעוד ש"העולם הזה" הייתה לו תפוצה קיימת. האסטרטגיה שקבעתי לעצמי הייתה להמשיך כאילו לא קרה כלום. להמשיך ב"העולם הזה" במתכונתו הקיימת, ולאט-לאט, משבוע לשבוע, לשנות את הדברים, עד שזה יהיה העיתון שרציתי, תוך כמה חודשים. זאת אומרת, לא להפסיד את הקוראים הקיימים עד כמה שאפשר, ולהוסיף קוראים חדשים.‏

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: HaOlam HaZeh

Duration: 3 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017