Uri Avnery

Israeli politician, journalist and author (1923-2018)

Uri Avnery (also spelled Avneri, (אורי אבנרי); born Helmut Ostermann (September 10, 1923August 20, 2018 was an Israeli journalist, left wing peace activist, Knesset member, who was originally a member of the right wing Revisionist Zionist movement.

Uri Avnery in 2006

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  • The only people who have an official confirmation that they are sane are those who have been released from psychiatric hospitals.
  • By that time it was already clear that the next prime minister was going to be Golda Meir, a woman whom I frankly detested – a mutual sentiment, I might add. I knew her as an opinionated, obstinate person, primitive in her outlook, rigid in her attitudes, with a genius for reaching and exploiting the deepest fears and prejudices of the Jewish masses. I was certain that with her as prime minister, all peace efforts would come to a total standstill.
    • My Friend, the Enemy (1986) – page 80
  • Sartawi and I are sitting in a small restaurant on the Boulevard St. Germain. After the main course, he excuses himself. 'I have to go to the bathroom. Keep an eye on my briefcase.' His attaché case – the kind Israelis call James Bond cases – stands under the table. After a few minutes he comes back, takes his seat and bursts out laughing. 'If I told anyone of my friends that I left a briefcase full of PLO secrets in the care of a Zionist, they wouldn't believe me', he says. 'If I tell anyone of my friends that a PLO terrorist put an attaché case under my table and went away, and I remained there, they'd think that I was crazy', I reply. We laugh and order a dessert.
    • My Friend, the Enemy (1986) – page 128
  • [Henry] Kissinger has always been a paradox for me. I was profoundly impressed by his book about European politics in the first half of the last century. One of his main theses was that peace agreements are valueless if a major party to the conflict is left out and sees in the agreement a threat to its basic interests. If ever this rule were true – as it surely is – this is the case with the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict. It is also true for the Soviet Union. Yet once he became the political genius of the Nixon and Ford administrations, Kissinger behaved as if he had never read his own book – the classic example of power blinding the intellectual. He tried to make peace of some kind without the Palestinians, treating the rulers of the various Arab countries as so many Metternichs and Castlereaghs, trying to push the Soviets out of the Middle East altogether. I strongly suspected him of obstructing any real move towards peace, favoring the salami approach of little pieces of peace, so as to keep everybody screaming for American support and dependent on American protection. This was the famous step-by-step approach.
    • My Friend, the Enemy (1986) – Page 144
I have often wondered how different Zionism might have been if Herzl had not been a Viennese journalist but a shopkeeper in a Damascus bazaar. Would Zionism have realized that Palestine was a part of a big area inhabited by Arabs?
~ 1971.
  • I have often wondered how different Zionism might have been if Herzl had not been a Viennese journalist but a shopkeeper in a Damascus bazaar. Would Zionism have realized that Palestine was a part of a big area inhabited by Arabs? Might some solution have been found at the very beginning to the problem of co-existence with the people who considered Palestine their own homeland ? But these are, of course idle thoughts. Herzl could not have been anything but a European Jew, because his whole idea was a response to a specific challenge posed by European conditions.
    • Israel without Zionism (1971) – page 50
  • James Baker was the only leader in America who had the guts to stand up and act against Israel's malignant disease: the settlements. When he was the Secretary of State, he simply informed the Israeli government that he would deduct the sums expended on the settlements from the money Israel was getting from the US. Threatened and made good on his threat. Baker thus confronted the "pro-Israeli" lobby in the US, both the Jewish and the Christian. Such courage is rare in the United States, as it is rare in Israel.
    • Baker's Cake (December 9, 2006)
  • It is an irony of fate (or a triumph of folly) that Hamas was created, in fact, with the help of Israel itself. Much as the Americans created the al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden in order to fight against the Soviet army in Afghanistan, Israel supported the Islamic movement in the occupied territories as a counterweight to the PLO. The assumption was that pious Muslims would spend their time praying in the mosques and would not support the secular PLO, which was then considered the arch-enemy. But when the first intifada broke out at the end of 1987, the Islamists organized as Hamas (the Arabic initials of "Islamic Resistance Movement") and quickly became the most efficient underground fighting organization. However, the Security Service started to act against them only after a whole year of the intifada had passed.
    • Red Herring (June 21, 2005)
  • Critics of the war plans (including myself) have pointed to the disastrous political results that must be expected: Iraq would break into three parts (Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center, Shi’ites in the south), the Middle East would be exposed to the onslaught of Iranian fanaticism, pro-Western Arab regimes would collapse. Israel would be surrounded by aggressive Islamic fundamentalism, like the Crusader kingdom with the advent of Saladin.
    • War Now! (September 9, 2002)
  • Every honest Jew who knows the history of his people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam, which has protected the Jews for 50 generations, while the Christian world persecuted the Jews and tried many times "by the sword" to get them to abandon their faith.
  • The prophecy of Professor Yeshayahu Leibovitz, that the occupation would corrupt us through and through and turn us into a people of exploiters and secret-service-men, has come awfully true. Nothing has remained of the "beautiful Eretz Israel " but a cloying nostalgia, of which Naomi Shemer was a standard-bearer. A small and gallant state, progressive and (relatively) egalitarian, respected by the world, has become an occupying and looting state, hostage to delirious settlers, full of internal violence and "swinish capitalism" (a phrase coined by Shimon Peres, one of those most responsible for this situation). Throughout the world, the idea of boycotting Israel is gaining ground.
    • Death of a Myth (May 12, 2005)
  • It seems that most religions are obsessed with sex. They assume that if a religious male sees a woman, whatever her age and looks, he is aroused and cannot think about anything else. So, logically, women must be hidden away.
    • talking about gender segregation at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Women of the Wall (18 May 2013)

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