Jewish Voices: Gideon Levy

Levy spoke at a conference, “The Israel Lobby: Is it Good for the U.S.? Is it Good for Israel?” published as a special supplement to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (his full talk begins on page 49). You can view his presentation on YouTube. Levy spoke again, giving the keynote address at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs’ 2016 conference, “Israel’s Influence: Good or Bad for America.” A complete transcript of his keynote address is available here.

Al Jazeera produced a video, “Going Against the Grain,” on Levy.

Max Blumenthal interviewed Gideon Levy about the relationship between Israel and the United States.

 

Here are excerpts of his 2015 talk:

“I was born in Tel Aviv. I was brought up in Tel Aviv. I was a very good boy in Tel Aviv. I served in the Israeli army. I did something which is even much worse than this. I worked for four years with Shimon Peres, then leader of Israeli opposition, in the late’70s, early ‘80s before most of you were born. And it was only by the late ‘80s, when I started to travel to the occupied territories quite accidentally… as a journalist, when I realized that the biggest drama of Israeli is taking place half an hour away from our homes, in our dark backyard. That this real drama of Israeli has almost no one to be interest in, that it is hidden in the backyard of Israel, half an hour away from our homes. All those crimes are taking place and we Israelis—most of us, if not all of us—do not want to know, do not know and above all, do not care

“And it took me many, many years to understand how come that the society—some of you met Israelis, they’re not monsters. Every catastrophe in the world, the Israelis are always the first one to send rescue teams with field hospitals. Many Israelis would help any old lady to cross the road many times, even if she doesn’t want to cross the road. People with values…

“And if you scratch under the skin of almost every Israeli, you will find it there. Almost no one will treat the Palestinians as equal human beings like us. I once wrote that we treat the Palestinians like animals. I got so many protest letters from animal rights organizations—rightly so. But by the end of the day, how many Israelis did ever try for a moment to put themselves in the place of the Palestinians for a moment, for one day?

“…during the second intifada, the city of Jenin, the most close city in the West Bank, real total siege. I go out from Jenin. I come to the checkpoint. A Palestinian ambulance is parking there with the red lights. I stand after him, no cars can get out of Jenin in those days; no cars can get in. And I wait. The soldiers start playing backgammon in the tent. Usually, I know myself, it’s better that I don’t get into confrontations with the soldiers, because it always ends up very badly. So I stayed in the car. But after 40 minutes, I couldn’t take it.

“I went out from the car. I went first to the Palestinian ambulance driver. I asked him, what’s going on. He told me that’s the routine, they let me wait one hour until they come and check the ambulance. And I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to the soldiers. It became a confrontation but the question that I asked them which really brought them to direct their weapons toward me was one: what would happen if your father was lying in this ambulance” This freaked them out. They lost control. How can I dare to compare between their father and the Palestinian in the ambulance? This set of beliefs, that they are not human beings like us, enable us Israelis to live in so much peace with those crimes, ongoing crimes for so many years, without losing any kind of humanity, values I heard today.”

 

In an interview, for the Electronic Intifada, Levy said:

“Zionism has many meanings. For sure, the common concept of Zionism includes the occupation, includes the perception that Jews have more rights in Palestine than anyone else, that the Jewish people are the chosen people, that there can’t be equality between Jews and Arabs, Jews and Palestinians. All those beliefs which are very basic in current Zionism, I can’t share them. In this sense, I can define myself as an anti-Zionist.

On the other hand, the belief about the Jewish people having the right to live in Palestine side by side with the Palestinians, doing anything possible to compensate the Palestinians for the terrible tragedy that they went through in 1948, this can also be called the Zionist belief. In this case, I share those views.”

 

Levy spoke again at the 2018 Israel Lobby and American Policy conference held March 3, 2018, at the National Press Club.  You can see his speech here.  A transcript is at https://www.wrmea.org/018-may-june/the-zionist-tango-step-left-step-right.html.

Levy writes regularly in Haaretz. In this article, he writes about Israel’s killing of Palestinian children: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-a-brief-history-of-killing-children-1.10402508?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_content=author-alert&utm_campaign=Gideon%20Levy&utm_term=20211121-00:03.

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