70 Hungarian postcards to the 70-year-old Israel
Translated from the Hungarian original: Bea Sara Goll
You may have heard of the illusionist who is almost exactly one-and-a –alf-year older than the State of Israel mostly from stories of his spoon bending and from his live performances in front of the Hungarian audience and the Kiválasztott [The new Uri Geller] Reality Show. Besides that, apart from myself, at least 3-400 other children could have seen him at some time in the early nineties at the Szarvas children's camp. Although he had spent most of his active years outside Israel - he lived in England from the 70's until 2015 - he is still a well-known personality here.
There have been a lot of articles about him during his long career, including not so long ago in Izraelinfo. That is why I focused on his relationship with Hungary and the 70th birthday of his homeland in this interview.
After briefly introducing and summing up the essence of the Izrael70 project, Uri was pleased to be interviewed with one condition.
Uri: Dear Esther, this idea sounds good to me, but I urge you to include that I feel great distress, disbelief and anger about the growing anti-Semitism of the Hungarian political scene.
Esther: All right, I'm going to start the article with this.
Uri: Then I look forward to the other questions.
Eszter: According to your official curriculum vitae only your father was Hungarian; your mother is of Austrian origin. How strongly do you consider yourself being of Hungarian origin?
Uri: Oh very much! My mother's family moved to Budapest when she was one year old and grew up there; my parents married there and arrived in Palestine in 1938 from there. From both families, many of their siblings survived the Shoa and we visited them regularly. At home we spoke in Hungarian, and even my children know Hungarian.
Eszter: Can we continue the conversation in Hungarian then?
Uri: Let's stay with Hebrew.
Esther: Alright. So you have a lot of memories about Budapest and Hungary, right?
Uri: Yes, I have always liked to be there. I only have good memories of the visits, the food (later in other context, he mentioned the dobos torta, the poppy noodles and the beigli as his favorites) and my relatives. So much so that I wanted to marry my wife at the Dohány Street synagogue, but ultimately - and perhaps not by accident – we did it at the Uri Street wedding hall because the Dohány was just under renovation.
Eszter: How do good memories fit with anger over anti-Semitism? Have you experienced this on your own during your last visit?
Uri: I do not understand how things have taken such a turn, and really, I'm very upset about what I read and see in the media. At the same time, as a famous, successful man, I am always welcomed in Hungary - whether in my TV show or in performances.
Eszter: I think we could talk a lot about this topic, but I'd prefer a happier ending. What do you wish for the 70 year old Israel?
Uri: First of all security, in every sense of it. I wish that there be less suffering in the country so everyone can be healthier. To continue to have many of our positive energies, the science that we have achieved so wonderful results over the past seventy years will continue to develop and at least as fast as it is now. What is most important - peace, peace with our neighbors. If this were to succeed, the Middle East could be a wonderful place. Regarding our relationship with Hungary I wish to succeed in changing the minds of the Hungarians to at least accept, but rather to love the Jews and the state of Israel. In this case, we would be able to help the country a great deal; perhaps it is no coincidence that so many of the famous and important Israeli scholars are of Hungarian origin.
Eszter: Will the new Yaffo Museum open its doors by Independence Day?
Uri: Although that beautiful old building I bought in order to turn it into a museum is currently being renovated, the opening will have to wait about a year.
Eszter: Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you a wonderful day!
If you have enjoyed reading this story, please support our project Izrael70.