Like the biblical prophets of Israel, Avnery saw beyond the immediate; like them, he was persecuted and like them, few listened to him.
“Life goes on. The struggle continues. Tomorrow is a new day.”
— Uri Avnery
It’s customary to claim that the cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people. But the body of Uri Avnery, who died Monday at the age of 94, will not be buried in a cemetery, as per his request, and he is indeed an irreplaceable personality. No substitute has yet emerged for this man, whose life was long and full of struggles and achievements. The Israeli left, which is at a low point in its history, is now even more orphaned than before.
It’s hard to think of an Israeli biography richer and more complex than his: The child of German immigrants who joined the Irgun and in 1948 fought in the Shimshon Foxes elite unit. The legendary editor of Haolam Hazeh, which was a pioneer in aggressive investigative journalism in Israel, a mentor to generations of journalists who has left his mark to this day. The journalist, MK and citizen who fought corruption, religious coercion, ethnic discrimination and crony capitalism long before others did. And of course, the eternal warrior for peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, one of the pioneering visionaries of the two-state solution, an Israeli and Zionist patriot, optimistic and hopeful until his final days.
Avnery was a soldier, journalist and politician, but more than anything he is worthy of being called a prophet. Like the biblical prophets of Israel, he saw beyond the immediate; like them, few listened to him and like them, he was persecuted. He was a prophet in his city; he never left the country or the front line of battle.