Saturday, July 3, 2010

Begin, Israel TV and Haim Yavin

In a book review of Haim Yavin's "Over Masakh (Mr. Television)", literally: "Screen Presence", Yedioth Ahronoth Books (Hebrew), 408 pages, Yossi Sarid notes this:-

Yavin's autobiography is characterized above all by personal honesty. Though he recognizes his own worth, he doesn't let himself off easy. Yavin sees himself as merely a public servant who wants to return home every day with a clear conscience. Referring to the predecessor of the Labor Party, he writes: "I'm a Mapainik, a bit of a sabra, a bit European, I believe in compromise as a way of life, I'm in favor of mediation." Elsewhere in the book he adds: "By nature I'm not a real leftist."

"Mr. Television" is the story of a man from the political center who eventually became a reluctant leftist and gradually got used to being labeled as such. It didn't happen to Yavin alone. It happened to quite a number of people who underwent a metamorphosis when they could no longer "stand on the sidelines in light of the injustice that we caused" the Palestinians, "that we are causing them." At a given moment they decide to shed the "objectivity" that they have held on to all their lives, "to go out into the world without concealing my opinions and emotions, and with an unequivocal statement in favor of freedom, justice, equality, peace."

...When exactly did Yavin's sobering-up process begin? It seems that even the author has a hard time determining that. Perhaps it was with the well-known raised-eyebrow incident. Yavin explains that during a broadcast of Channel 1's "Mabat" nightly news program, which he anchored for 40 years until retiring in 2008, "I raised an eyebrow at the end of a speech by [prime minister Menachem] Begin. Some time later, Yoram Ronen came to interview the prime minister. Begin posited a condition: The interview would be broadcast in full, without editing, and if Mr. Yavin made a funny face, his face would stay that way."

'Would I hurt you, Mr. Yavin?'

Then a hue and cry arose. The Labor Alignment denounced "the violent Begin," Yavin writes, "and Yossi Sarid asked a question in the Knesset: 'Will Begin knock Mr. Yavin's face out of joint by himself, or will he send the Likud thugs?'" Look, even I am suddenly part of Yavin's memories.

Begin later regretted his statement, and when he next ran into Yavin, he patted his head and told him in a conciliatory tone: "What happened to them, Mr. Yavin? They totally lost their sense of humor. Would I hurt you? After all, I like you."

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