To listen to more of Uri Avnery’s stories, go to the playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVV0r6CmEsFw4EQRLZvAoreWVLWLJDNaI
Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and peace activist. He was editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine “HaOlam HaZeh” and founded the Gush Shalom peace movement. [Listener: Anat Saragusti]
TRANSCRIPT: Ya’akov Arnon also played an important role in these matters. Ya’akov Arnon was a wise man. He was a Dutchman – descended from generations of Dutchmen − and during the Nazi occupation he continued to live in Holland as a government official, living as a Christian, and got through the war as a Dutch government official in the pro-Nazi government. He lived through all of this safely, was elected Chairman of the Dutch Zionist Organization, came to Israel, and because he was a senior official in the Netherlands on economic matters, I think that Levi Eshkol took him on as Director General of the Ministry of Finance and he was Director General of the Ministry of Finance for several years. A small Jewish man, with a limp in one leg and, like I said, very clever. He and Matti were the perfect couple. Matti was impulsive, impetuous and energetic, and would not take advice from anyone, a general in the IDF. The only person who could rein him in a little was Ya’akov Arnon, who was very smart and very cautious and full of humor. Then we became a trio – Matti, Ya’akov Arnon and myself – and we functioned in harmony, because the three of us complemented each other perfectly. I was usually between Arnon and Matti in terms of caution and adventure, but each had very different qualities and it worked really well.
My first meeting with Issam Sartawi was also in Paris, in Rambouillet, at that villa. Before the meeting took place he introduced two important Palestinians. I think that one of them was Sabri Jiryis, someone from Galilee who was later the head of the Palestinian Institute − Palestine Studies. Curiel, or someone acting on his behalf, met us at the airport and brought us to Rambouillet and told us that Matti and Sartawi wanted to talk privately between themselves. So we all went to Rambouillet, to a very elegant villa. We had a very nice time; they did not come, they were late. Meir Pa’il, with his typical Palmach’nik humour, said: ‘The Arabs must have kidnapped them’. They were so offended, it is impossible to describe. And from that moment they absolutely did not like Meir Pa’il. Not everyone understood his particular sense of humor. Then the meeting took place and we held discussions and planned programs.