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Who is the real enemy?


Uprising of the Mizrachi Jews
Uri Avnery Social activist
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וכשהיינו במעברות שמענו סיפורים שהרגיזו אותי מאוד. למשל הסיפור של החלפת הכסף. הרי ב-52' אני חושב, התחילה לבוא העלייה העיראקית. והיהודים העיראקים היו אנשים עשירים בדרך כלל, גם אינטלקטואלים בדרך כלל. פקידי ממשלה וכו',

ולא יכלו לקחת את רכושם. אחר-כך שמענו ופרסמנו, שבן גוריון עשה הסכם עם נורי סעיד, ראש הממשלה בעיראק. ואז היהודים - יהודים הם יהודים - המירו את הרכוש שלהם בדולרים והביאו דולרים. בימים ההם ההבדל בין הדולרים בשער הרשמי לבין הדולרים בשוק השחור, כלומר המחיר האמיתי, היה עצום, פי שלושה או ארבעה, משהו כזה. ומהיהודים התמימים האלה שבאו לארץ, שאלו אותם "יש לכם דולרים?" "כן". "תנו אותם”. קיבלו תמורתם לירות, למעשה ברבע מערכם. דברים כאלה נורא הרגיזו אותי. פרסמנו את כל הדברים האלה כמובן. שלום כהן היה כאמור, אחת הסיבות מדוע חיבבתי אותו כל כך היה בדיוק זה שהוא היה יליד עיראק שהתחנך במצרים וידע ערבית ממש טוב. תכף נגיע לצד הזה של "העולם הזה”. ולקחנו משלב מאוד צעיר, שעוד איש לא דיבר על… למעשה הדיבור הציבורי על הבעיה התחיל בוואדי סאליב 59’. ואדי סאליב היה מערכה עיתונאית של "העולם הזה" נגד כולם, וכולם נגד "העולם הזה". בן הרוש, המנהיג, בא אלינו, או אנחנו באנו אליו. אני מתאר לי שאנחנו באנו אליו. ואנחנו לקחנו לידינו את המערכה הזאת. צילמנו אותה שבוע אחרי שבוע אחרי שבוע. ביקרנו את בן הרוש בבית הסוהר כשכלאו אותו, וזה הפך לעניין שלנו. ומאז למעשה העניין הזה עלה על סדר היום. אי-אפשר כבר היה יותר להסתיר את זה, עד שבא העניין עם הפנתרים שזה היה ממש התפוצצות.


When we were in the camps we heard stories that made me very angry. For example, the story about exchanging money. In 1952, I think, the immigration from Iraq started and Iraqi Jews were usually very wealthy individuals, intellectuals for the most part, government officials, etc. And they could not take their property with them. Later we heard, and published, that Ben-Gurion made an agreement with Nuri al-Said, the Iraqi Prime Minister. Then the Jews – Jews are Jews – converted their assets into dollars and brought dollars. In those days, the difference between the dollars at the official rate and the black market dollars – which means the real cost – was enormous, something like three or four times more. And people asked these innocent Jews who came to Israel, 'Do you have dollars?' 'Yes'. 'Let me have them'. And in return they received liras, but actually only a quarter of their value. Things like that really annoyed me. Of course we published stories about this. Shalom Cohen, whom I mentioned earlier... one of the reasons why I liked him so much was precisely because he was born in Iraq and had been educated in Egypt and knew Arabic really well. In a minute we'll talk about that aspect of HaOlam HaZeh. And from a very early stage, when no one was yet speaking about it... in fact, the problem only started being talked about in public around the time of Wadi Salib in 1959. Wadi Salib was a campaign conducted by the editorial board of HaOlam HaZeh against everyone, and everyone was against HaOlam HaZeh. Ben Harush, the leader, came to us or we went to him – I suppose that we went to him – and we took this matter into our hands. We published photographs week after week after week. We visited Ben Harush in the prison where he had been incarcerated, and it became our 'affair'. And then this affair actually became part of our agenda. It was impossible to conceal that fact, until the matter with the Panthers really caused an explosion.

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, Egypt, Iraq, Shalom Cohen, Ben Harush, Nuri al-Said

Duration: 3 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017