Washington, D.C.: Gideon Levy is a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz and a member of its editorial board. Levy joined Haaretz in 1982 and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He is the author of the weekly twilight zone feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in The West Bank in Gaza over the last 25 years. He is also a writer of political editorials for the newspaper.
Levy was invited to address a conference at National Press Club in Washington, DC on April 10, 2015. His topic was ‘unconditional support for Israel’.
In his talk, Levy says that when he had to travel as a journalist into the Occupied Palestinian Territories by Israel, only then he realised that there is a lot of crime taking place right under their noses, which they, as Israeli citizens, either do not know, do not want to know or, simply do not care. He states that the United States and Israel are two very similar governments who have very little to do with democracy.
He further explains that Israelis are not monsters as the world thinks them to be. In fact, whenever there is a disaster, Israelis are always the first ones to extend help. But, he says, the problem is that Israelis feel so good about themselves that they deny any arguments against what is going on within their homeland. “How come we live in peace with it; that we continue with it; that there is no resistance, almost nothing!” exclaims Levy.
He further says that Israel and the U.S. are dealing with a corrupted friendship and that with friends like the U.S., Israelis do not need enemies. Levy claims that they are living in such a paradox that after so many administrations and legislations, the governments of both the countries are working against International law, human rights and moral values.
Levy feels sorry that he does not expect any change from within the Israeli society because the lives of Israelis are so good that they do not bother for any change. According to him, the Israeli society is too brainwashed, too disconnected with reality and is living in denial. It is important to know that the one who lives disconnected with the reality, proves to be dangerous either to himself or to others around him. Hence, Levy asks for international intervention from the united states and from the EU. He says that they are the only hope he has.
According to Levy, the 5 million Jews think themselves to be better than the rest 6 billion people of the world. He warns that ignoring international law and institutions is not acceptable. Israel has not only surrounded itself with physical walls but mental walls as well, says Levy. He describes the three principles which, according to him, enable Israelis to live so easily with the brutal reality:
a) Most Israelis deeply believe that they are the ‘chosen people’ and if they are the chosen people, they think they have the right to do whatever they want.
b) There was never in history, an occupier who presented himself as the victim; by playing the victim card, Israelis continue to live in peace. Levy narrates that after the Paris and Copenhagen terror attacks, Benjamin Netanyahu had called all the Jews to come to Israel, saying that it is the safest place for the Jews in the world, which according to Levy, is wrong, because Israel today is the most dangerous place on earth.
c) The third set of values, says Levy, is the most dangerous one which is the systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians which enables Israelis to live in peace with everything. If they (Palestinians) are not human beings like Israelis, then there is no question of human rights. He further says, “I once wrote that we treat Palestinians like animals and I got so many protest letters from animal rights organizations”.
Levy recalls his interview with Abe Barack, who was then, a candidate for Prime Minister. In his interview, he asked what would Barack do if he were born as a Palestinian, to which Barack responded: “I would have joined the terror organization”. This interview later became a scandal because Levy dared to put Barack to think what would have happened if he would have been a Palestinian. “This set of beliefs, that they [Palestinians] are not human beings like them [Israelis], enables Israelis to live in so much peace with those crimes ongoing for so many years while losing humanitarian values.” Says Levy.
Levy asks why does Israel consider itself a special case, ignoring the international law and human rights. He says that this is corrupting for Israel because if the United States and Israel continue their destructive friendship, the consequences after some years will be damaging. Levy says that he has no hope for change from the Israeli society because things are going to the nationalistic, militaristic, religious direction.
Levy recalls the time when Gaza was being bombed. The news channels and newspapers hardly showed or wrote any report about it. But when Levy wrote an article about the responsibility of the pilots, it became so controversial that he had to appoint bodyguards beside him.
According to Levy, Israel has three regimes: one for the Jews, one for the Arab citizens, and the third is an apartheid regime in the West Bank of Gaza — one of the most brutal and cruel tyrannies in the world. he says that Israel might be a democracy just for façade, but it sure is a democracy for the Jews who think like the majority.
Levy concludes his speech saying, “few of us are looking to the West, Europe and the United States with a great hope because we lost hope in Israel”.