Journalist, writer, former MK and peace activist Uri Avnery died of a stroke at the age of 94 at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
For decades, Avnery was one of the leaders of the Israeli left, serving as a deputy of the Knesset and editor of the magazine “Haolam Hazé” which combined shocking revelations and sharp criticism of Israeli institutions with gossip and scandelous photos
Born in 1923 as Helmut Ostermann in Beckum, Germany, to a wealthy family of bankers, he emigrated to Israel when the Nazis came to power.
His father quickly lost his small fortune and was forced to work instead of attending school.
At the age of fifteen, Avnery joined the Irgun Tzvi Leumí guerrillas, where he served for four years. He then fought in the War of Independence in 1948 as a member of the “Givati Brigade” (Samson’s Foxes) and was seriously wounded in one of the battles.
In 1965, he formed a political party and served as a deputy for a decade.
Avnery was one of the first Israelis to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state, arguing that this is the only way to ensure peace.
In 1982, he crossed four battle lines in the Lebanese city of Beirut, besieged by Israeli forces, to talk to Israel’s then enemy number one, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Arafat.
In 2004, Avnery received the Sokolov Prize for his journalistic work, while continuing to make reports and express opinions quite against the mainstream Israeli public.
Because of his unwavering convictions, he earned the respect of virtually the entire political spectrum, including his toughest political rivals.
Geula Cohen, a defender of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza, said of Avnery, in 2013, “he is the political father of the Palestinian state. He’s the first one to raise it politically.