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A kaleidoscope of experiences


A run-in with the Moscow police
Uri Avnery Social activist
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לקחתי את רחל והתחלנו במסע, והיינו בזו אחר זו ברוסיה, צ'כוסלובקיה, הונגריה, גרמניה המזרחית, בוסניה אני חושב, בערך, אולי שכחתי מדינה אחת או שתיים. וזה היה מסע מרתק, עם ההמלצה של מקסוול בכיס יכולתי להיפגש עם כל מי שרציתי – ראשי מדינות, סופרים, משוררים, פוליטיקאים, ורחל צילמה. וככה בילינו איזה חצי שנה מאושרת וכתבנו על זה ספר שקראנו לו "לנין לא גר פה יותר”. ובאמת היה מרתק ואני חושב שיצא ספר טוב למרות שהוא לא תורגם לשום שפה אחרת. היו לנו המון חוויות כמובן ככה קטנות. גרנו במלון במוסקבה, הלכנו לטייל, ופתאום אנחנו רואים שני אנשים בבגדים אזרחיים אבל היה כתוב עליהם "משטרה", גוררים ביניהם איזה אדם שלישי שלא רצה. וברור שהם עוצרים אותו. רחל, שתמיד הייתה אימפולסיבית, רצה עם המצלמה שלה, רצה אליהם והתחילה לצלם אותם. השוטרים התנפלו עליה. בעוד מועד היא תפסה מה היא עשתה, רצה למלון שלנו שהיה לא רחוק משם. היא רצה, השוטר אחריה, אני אחרי השוטר. והוא השיג אותה באולם הכניסה של המלון והתחיל: "תני לי את המצלמה!" אני לא יודע איך הם דיברו. אני חושב שהוא דיבר באנגלית רצוצה. והיא ״לא רוצה!״ "למה צילמת?" "אני תיירת, אני מצלמת”. והלוך וחזור, ולא היה חסר הרבה שיגרור אותה בכוח. הוא אומר: "אני גם אאסור אותך!" ורחל לא נרתעת. ואז קרה איזה נס: ככל שהוויכוח האלים הזה מתמשך, השוטר מתרכך ורחל אומרת לו: "אני אצלם אותך גם”. אז הוא עומד בפוזה. הסוף היה שהוא נתן לה את הכתובת שלו והיא הבטיחה לשלוח לו תמונה. היא גם שלחה לו תמונה והתמונה חזרה, הכתובת לא הייתה כנראה נכונה. וזה היה אחד המקרים.‏

I took Rachel and we began our journey visiting in turn Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Bosnia, I think, perhaps I have forgotten one or two countries. And it was a fascinating journey. With a recommendation from [Robert] Maxwell in my pocket, I could meet whoever I wanted: heads of state, writers, poets, politicians. And Rachel took photographs. We spent a happy 6 months this way, and wrote a book about our travels that we called Lenin Doesn't Live Here Any More. It was fascinating and I think the book was good although it was not translated into any other languages. We had a lot of experiences, nothing major, of course.

One day, while we were living at a hotel in Moscow, we went for a walk and suddenly we saw two people in civilian clothes on which the word 'Police' had been written, and they were dragging between them a third person who was obviously objecting. It was clear that they were arresting him. Rachel, who was always impulsive, ran over to them with her camera and began to photograph them. The police attacked her. Eventually, she realised what she had done, and so she ran to our hotel which was not far away. She ran with the policeman running after her and me running after the policeman. He caught up with her in the hotel lobby and began to shout: 'Give me the camera!' I don't know how they spoke. I think he spoke in broken English. And she said: 'I don't want to!' 'Why did you take a photograph?' 'I'm a tourist, I take photographs'. And back and forth, and in another minute and he would have dragged her away by force. 'I'll arrest you!' he said but Rachel didn't flinch. Then a miracle happened. As this violent argument persisted, the policeman seemed to soften and Rachel said: 'I'll take your picture, too'. So he posed for her. In the end, he gave her his address and she promised to send him a picture. She also sent him the photograph but it came back, the address was probably wrong. And that was just one of the incidents.

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: Lenin Doesn’t Live Here Any More, Moscow

Duration: 4 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017