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October 12, 2001
Uri Avnery on a US Speaking Tour



pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033

Press release

Uri Avnery on a US Speaking Tour.

Avnery, Israel's Most Influential Political Organizer For a Two State Solution in the 20th Century "Alternative Nobel Prize" Awarded to Gush Shalom and Uri and Rachel Avnery, Stockholm, October 4, 2001.

Uri Avnery: member of the Jewish underground fighting the British, twice wounded in Israel's wars with the Arabs; political organizer; Knesset member; publisher; journalist; founder of "Gush Shalom," Israel's Peace Bloc; and recipient of numerous international human rights and peace awards, will speak in five cities: Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC. to press for a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The focus of Avnery's presentations will be the imperative for Israel to reject an imposed military solution and support a diplomatic solution with security for two-states of Israel and Palestine.

"ALTERNATIVE NOBEL PRIZE" AWARDED TO GUSH SHALOM AND URI AND RACHEL AVNERY Stockholm, October 4, 2001 - The jury of "The Right Livelihood Award", generally known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize", announced that it has awarded this years award to "Gush Shalom and Uri and Rachel Avnery". The award will be awarded in the Swedish parliament on December 7, a day before the official Nobel awards.

Uri Avnery was born in Germany in 1923 and emigrated with his family to Palestine in 1933 when Hitler rose to power. He joined the Jewish underground, The Irgun in 1938 to fight against the British colonial regime. After three years he left in protest against its anti-Arab attitudes and terrorist methods. In 1948 he was a member of an Israeli commando unit and was wounded twice on the Egyptian front.

In 1950 after leaving the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz Avnery founded a mass circulation news magazine, Haolam Hazeh which he served as publisher and chief editorial writer during all of its 40 years. It was similar in style to Time magazine and Der Spiegel magazines, and a mouthpiece of aggressive political opposition, with exposes of political and economic corruption and proposals for a radically different national policy.

The magazine proposed a modern, liberal state of Israel belonging to all of its citizens, irrespective of ethnic, national or religious roots.

The chief of the Israeli secret service in the 50's later testified that the Ben-Gurion establishment considered Uri Avnery and Haolam Hazeh as "Public Enemy No.1." This might explain why its editorial offices and printing facilities were bombed several times. Avnery was ambushed and both his arms were broken after he criticized the infamous Kibieh massacre in 1953. In 1972 arson destroyed the offices of Haolam Hazeh. In 1975 he survived an assassination attempt.

Throughout all this time all branches of the government. and army maintained a total economic boycott against the paper. In 1965 he was responsible for starting a new party whose goals were separation of state and religion; equality for the Arab minority, Oriental Jews and women; support for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and an Israeli-Arab alliance throughout the whole region. Called "Haolam Hazeh" it astounded the establishment by winning a seat on the Knesset, at that time a unprecedented feat for a completely new party.

By 1974 Avnery established secret contacts with senior PLO officials. By the summer of 1975 Avnery called for the creation of an Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace which by December officially took over the still secret dialogue.

In July of 1982 Avnery crossed the lines at the height of the battle of Beirut and publically met the leader of the "enemy" Yassir Arafat with whom he has met since many times.

In 1992, Avnery called for the election of Yitzhak Rabin, and later supported the Oslo agreement. Soon afterward, frustrated with many of the government's acts and omissions in moving towards peace he was responsible for the formation of Gush Shalom, the Peace Bloc which has become -- together with the women's peace movement in Israel -- the leading (and often sole) voices in Israel calling for the creation of the state of Palestine in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the release of all Palestinian prisoners, the dismantling of all settlements and the recognition of Jerusalem as the joint capital of both states.

When the al-Aksa Infifada broke out at the end of September, 2000 after the failure of the Camp David summit, much of the Israeli peace camp collapsed. Gush Shalom was one of a very small number of peace groups that risked unpopularity by daring to maintain its view that a just peace is not only a moral solution, but the only pragmatic one. Avnery eloquently advocates his views in a regular column in Ma'ariv, Israel's second largest newspaper. In particular, he works to dispel the notion that "Barak offered the Palestinians almost everything, but they turned him down." Due in no small part to the challenge of Uri Avnery and his words, mainstream Israeli peace groups are slowly beginning to resume their activity.

Uri Avnery's American tour is sponsored by the Northern California office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, California.

AFSC is a Quaker-based organization founded in 1917 that received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work with refugees after the Second World War. The Resource Center for Nonviolence has worked for a quarter of a century for a diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other tour sponsors include the Fellowship of Reconciliation, AFSC Middle East Committee, Muslim Peace Fellowship and Jewish Peace Fellowship.

Tour Schedule:
October 11 - 13 Boston
October 14 - 17 Chicago October 18 - 19 Philadelphia October 20 - 23 New York October 24 - 27 Washington, DC

Data and contact addresses:

Boston: October 10 -- 14; contact: Hilda B. Silverman; ph 617-661-7490; hildasil@email.msn.com

Chicago: October 14 -- 17; contact: Steven Feuerstein; ph 773-454-8397; fx 773- 262-8138; steven@stevenfeuerstein.com

Philadelphia: October 17 - 19; contact: Kathy Bergen, American Friends Service Committee; ph 215-241-7019; kbergen@afsc.org

New York City: October 19 - 22; contact: Scott Kennedy, Resource Center for Nonviolence; ph (831) 457 - 8003 / fx (831) 423 - 8716, kenncruz@pacbell.net or: Allan Solomonow, American Friends Service Committee; ph (415) 565 - 0201 x 26; asolomonow@afsc.org or: Ben Remple, Middle East Program, Fellowship of Reconciliation; ph (845) 358 -4601 / 4775; or: Jewish Peace Fellowship (Joyce); ph (845) 358 -4601 / 4775; jpf@forusa.org >Washington, D.C.: October 22 - 27; contact: Josh Ruebner, Executive Director, Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI); office ph: 202-423-7666; home ph/fx: 703-685-7666; josh@jppi.org / jruebner@hotmail.com; www.jppi.org; or: Helena Cobban; hcobban@aol.com

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