Following the death in August of the Israeli journalist and politician Uri Avnery, many Israeli public figures—even those who had once been or would seem to be his ideological opponents—have praised him for his dedication to peace. President Reuven Rivlin, for instance, commended Avnery’s “ambition to build a free and strong society” in Israel. Yet, writes Raphael Bouchnik-Chen, we should not forget the destruction wrought by Avnery’s most significant achievement: his unofficial and unauthorized diplomacy with Yasir Arafat, which would eventually lead to the Oslo Accords:
On July 3, 1982, [Avnery met] with the Palestine Liberation Organization’s leader Yasir Arafat in West Beirut in the midst of the first Lebanon war. Arafat himself admitted that Avnery was the first Israeli he had ever met, making him the pioneer who “broke the dam” for the many Israeli left-wing activists who followed. . . . The event was utilized by Avnery, [who was then a reporter], as an international scoop as well as an opportunity to show Arafat as a human being rather than a demonized monster. . . .
While praising Avnery’s meeting with Arafat in Beirut, his admirers intentionally ignored, or at least omitted . . . the fact that the PLO leader [was being trailed] by Israeli intelligence. . . . Though Avnery, who most likely knew this, claimed to have risked his life by attending the meeting, he knew he could rely on the restraint of the Israeli military not to attempt an assassination of Arafat in such circumstances.
Avnery used a similar tactic when visiting Arafat at his headquarters in Ramallah, [in which he] operated as a human shield for Arafat. Striking evidence of this can be found in Avnery’s article entitled “Human Shield.”
Read more on BESA Center: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/uri-avnery/