Meanwhile, longtime Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery has died at the age of 94 in Tel Aviv. Born in Germany in 1923, his family fled the Nazis and moved to what was then Palestine. As a youth, he joined the Irgun Zionist paramilitary group, which he later quit to become a leading peace activist in Israel. In 1950, he founded the news magazine, HaOlam HaZeh. Fifteen years later, he was elected to the Knesset on a peace platform. In 1982, he made headlines when he crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat, head of the then-banned Palestine Liberation Organization. This is Uri Avnery speaking on Democracy Now! about meeting with Yasser Arafat.
Uri Avnery: “During the battle of Beirut, I crossed the lines into the Palestinian territory. I met with Yasser Arafat, who was the leader of the PLO, and we had a long conversation about how to make peace. When pictures of him and me appeared on Israeli television talking to each other, sitting on the same sofa, I think it—to some extent, it helped to change the picture of Arafat the monster into Arafat the enemy with whom we can make peace.”
Uri Avnery went on to found the Gush Shalom peace movement in 1993. He died this morning at the age of 94.