TSVN Interviews with the Late Uri Avnery

uri avnery (38K)

photo from CounterCurrents https://www.countercurrents.org/vlazna071215.htm


Introduction August 20. An important figure in the Israeli journalist and activism, Uri Avnery, has died. He had quite a life with big swings in political point of view. He was born and named Helmut Ostermann in 1923 to a strongly Zionist family in Beckum, Germany. At 10 his family left for Palestine coming in with a "capitalist" permit (His father was a banker.). At 15 in 1938 he joined the Irgun which Avnery described as a terrorist group fighting to get the British out of Palestine. He left four years later he says discovering its sentiments and crimes against Arabs. He wrote a controversial pamphlet in 1947 talking about a need for the Semites (Arabs and Jews) to jointly kick out the British, just before the 1947-1948 warfare. Nevertheless he joined the Israeli army serving in a commando unit and in a recent documentary movie he talked about driving away Palestinians who had fled their homes and tried to return. He was seriously injured in the fighting, later wrote a very popular Israeli book about his commando experiences and another very unpopular book about the massacres and expusions. In 1956 he helped break the news to Israelis about the Kafr Kassem massacre.

He bought a floundering news magazine called Haolam Hazeh and turned it into a popular tabloid. He kept it unitl the 1990's. He was a skillful writer, and very readable. Remarkably he kept writing until a stroke cut him down this month. Later he ran on various peace platforms and was in the Israeli Knessed 3 times. Though he's sometimes reviled in Israel as "far-left", it's safe to say he was a Zionist, supporting the so-called "two state solution" until the day he died. He didn't support the right to return of Palestinians to their homes.

In 1982 during perhaps Israel's most vicious war, as its shells devestated Beirut Avnery went to Lebanon and arranged a meetting with Yasser Afafat. He was the first Israeli journalist ever to interview Arafat. An Israeli books claimed that Avnery's mother disinherited him after hearing about the meeting. Later he described Arafat as his friend. Just this year it was revealed that the Israeli government agents tried to follow him to the meeting so they could assassinate Arafat. If they also killed Avnery that was considered acceptable.

In the 1990's as a response to the expulsion of scores of Palestinian Islamists he and others started a peace group called Gush Shalom which continues to this day. When the popular resistance to the wall splittin Bil'in took place Gush Shalom and Avnery personally (in his mid-'80s') took part.

Stanley Heller of TSVN (The Struggle Video News) interviewed Avnery at least 3 times by phone around 10-13 years ago. Here are the interviews:

Avnery After the Assassination Threat

Uri Avnery in 2005 on Bil'in, Gush Shalom and more

Avnery on Israel after the 2006 Lebanon Defeat

In a print article Avnery Looks back at the war on Lebanon of 1982

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