Baron of the Falsehood Industry
Originally published in Maariv in Hebrew on October 15, 2010 (ברון תעשיית השקרים)
Translated by CAMERA.
If you want to know how to demonize the State of Israel, read the interview Haaretz's Gideon Levy gave to a British newspaper, The Independent. The Israeli journalist's web of lies makes Pravda– in its worst days– seem like a serious and credible newspaper.
Almost every day, I'm alerted to negative pieces about Israel published in the world press. Once in awhile, they include legitimate, justified criticism. After all, Israel is not free of mistakes or anomalies. One can't always cry "Gevalt." Other times, they include heaps of exaggerations, lies, and distortions. This is a known problem, but it's not worth refuting every such piece.. There is just not enough room – not only in this section, which deals with the industry of lies, but in the entire newspaper – to review or refute all the unfounded allegations and myths. But, every now and then, one discovers new lows of contempt toward and humiliation of Israel. And those need to be refuted.
First I'll mention that at the beginning of this week, a young Israeli, a stranger, asked me how I am able to sit in a television studio with Gideon Levy and not boil over with rage. I explained to him that I am proud to live in a state where there is a Gideon Levy who is allowed to write and attack freely. Any other option would be far worse. Another person asked me whether I had read Levy's interview in The Independent. I answered negatively. But after so many others alerted me to that interview, I read it. It was not an easy experience. If you want to know the essence of how the industry of lies operates, don't search among the anti-Semitic right in Hungary, nor in the circles of the Muslim Brotherhood, nor among the lunatic left in Britain. The industry is home-grown, developed among our own ranks.
The article's introduction is typical. Levy is described as one who reports on the gloomy reality in the territories "without propaganda." It's worth remembering that phrase "without propaganda." And only we Israelis did not know that Levy shuns propaganda. "My ...mission is to prevent a situation in which many Israelis will be able to say, ‘We didn't know.'" Levy's allusion to the past is transparent, so low. Propaganda? No way. Not Gideon Levy.
The issue is that Levy's damaging words win people over. Not just in Israel, but mainly in the rest of the world. So it's necessary to demonstrate his web of lies and to show him as he really is – not as a "peace activist," and not as a "critical journalist," but rather as a dangerous propagandist who is writing the new "Protocols" against Israel.
Levy asserts that his "biggest struggle is to re-humanize" the image of the Palestinians, in the face of "a whole machinery of brainwashing" experienced by every Israeli.
Excuse me? Where exactly is this "machinery"? Israel's media invites comment from a broad range of Arab voices, from both sides of the Green Line. Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat, Fatah leader Sufian Abu Zaida, Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi and others like them appear in the Israeli media far more often than do most members of Knesset. We're talking about fluent spokesmen.
The educational system, as well, tries to convey a fairer and more humane image of Arabs. (Indeed, there were years when the Hebrew literature was more problematic). So where exactly is this dark mechanism Levy invents in his feverish mind? Where is the "brainwashing"?
The negative image of the Arabs is the result of a hundred years of conflict. This image did not create the conflict. It is the conflict that created the image. Moreover, any comparative examination will reveal that the Israeli image of a Palestinian is angelic compared to the image of an Israeli or Jew in the educational system and official Palestinian media — both of Hamas and of the Palestinian Authority. A study by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reveals the use of the "Protocols fo the Elders of Zion" as a teaching tool in the Palestinian educational system. Another study reveals the systematic brainwashing of Palestinians – on Palestinian Authority television — to hate and kill Jews. Needless to say, in Hamas circles, the situation is even worse.
Levy describes "trigger-happy" Israeli soldiers shooting at innocent people who were just sitting in a taxi (he among them), without any warning – "no shooting in the air, no megaphone calling to stop, no shooting at the wheels" – just "straight at the head." Had Levy merely been recounting his own personal experience, fine. But Levy is not acting as a journalist. The propagandist adds, "They shoot at the Palestinians like this on a daily basis."
"Every day?" The number of Palestinians killed in security actions this year is almost zero. Most Palestinians, most of the time, never see an Israeli soldier. The rare fatalities, for some time now, have been people trying to infiltrate from Gaza, or Hamas murderers resisting arrest. But what do the facts matter to Gideon Levy? But of course, he does not use propaganda. No way.
In response, Levy claimed that it happened to him during "the terrible year of 2003". Well, there is a huge difference between "daily basis", like if he is talking about now and always, and his new version, that it happened during "the terrible year of 2003".
In one of the highlights of the interview, in order to strengthen the demonization of Israel, Levy recounts that during the war in Gaza,"the front page of the most popular newspaper in Israel" published news of "a dog – an Israeli dog – killed by a Qassam rocket. On the very same day, there were tens of Palestinians killed; they were on page 16, in two lines."
I was amazed at Levy's precise description, and so I hurried to check the issues of the best-selling Yediot from those days. I searched and searched and was unable to find any dog on any front page during any of the three weeks of the war. On the other hand, I found Nahum Barnea on the front page – not exactly a marginal journalist – writing that "the photographs from Gaza cause concern...there is nothing joyful or patriotic about a child killed by a shell or a family buried underneath a house..." (Jan. 12, 2009) And I found an article by Prof. Zev Tzachor under the headline "The Dignity of the Enemy" (Jan. 1, 2009). To be on the safe side, I also checked the other popular daily Maariv. I found a front-page report, from the end of the war, of an Israeli prime minister crying, following the tragedy of Dr. Abu Al-Aish whose daughters were killed. And in all the newspapers, I found expressions of inner conflict and countless articles about the safeguarding of human life and human dignity. Only one thing could not be found – Gideon Levy's dog.
In response, Levy presented tow front pages reporting about dogs. Well, the point is that what he presented happened 3 years before the operation in Gaza, and " tens of Palestinians" were not killed, and killed and Cast Lead, and he lied when he argued that "they were on page 16, in two lines." The new version has nothing to do with what he said to the Indepndent.
"Israel frequently targeted medical crews, and shelled a UN-run school" said Levy about Operation Cast Lead.
Frequently? The isolated strikes on areas housing a UN facility or a medical crew occurred when those places were used by Hamas operatives. Journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi reported from Gaza that Hamas was using the Al Quds Hospital for military purposes.
But it turns out that even when Hamas uses hospitals, the IDF maintains restraint. Senior Hamas officials were hiding in bunkers underneath the Shifa Hospital.
It would have been no problem for the IDF to overpower Hamas. But Hamas leaders knew something that Gideon Levy pretends not to know –- that the IDF would not bomb the hospital. They were protected for one reason: the IDF's rigorous standards. It is doubtful whether such standards exist anywhere else in the world.
In response Levy reiterated his false charges, including the story about the UN-run school, which was shelled by the IDF. Levy forgot one thing: the story was refuted even in Haaretz, after the "UN backtracked on claim that deadly IDF strike hit Gaza school." Levy, it seems, doesn't read even his newspaper.
Levy was moved to justify terrorism: "Were it not for the Qassams, nobody would have paid attention to the Palestinians … the Qassams are almost always launched only after an IDF assassination operation."
Let's check: Israel withdrew from Gaza, up until the last centimeter. Hamas continued to fire at Israel. Later, Hamas took over Gaza, making it into a bloodbath in the process. Despite all of this, Hamas could have avoided sanctions and closures had it been willing to accept the conditions of the Quartet. Hamas refused, preferring to launch rockets at Israel. Not because of any Israeli action but because of its clear policy of opposition to Israel's very existence. Yet as far as Levy is concerned, there is no refusal by Hamas, no Hamas charter, and no Hamas leaders who advocate worldwide Islamic rule and the extermination of Jews, just because they are Jews.
"Israel complains that Hamas hides among the civilian populations, but the Defense Ministry, too, is located in Tel Aviv."
A Hamas spokesman could not have put it better. There is something perverse about comparing the firing of rockets from a residential area with the situation where the Pentagon or the Egyptian Defense Department or the Israeli Defense Ministry are located in Washington, Cairo, or Tel Aviv. What is strange is that a rational person can wholeheartedly adopt the propaganda of Hamas spokesmen, and that the interviewer does not remark on this outrageous comparison.
Levy also addresses the creation of the state and charges that "Israel continues to carry out ethnic cleansing wherever it is possible."
Really? The population of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank continues to increase. During Israel's War of Independence, indeed, there was a mass flight encouraged by Arab leaders as well as isolated instances of expulsion. It happened to tens of millions of others in those years. But Levy knowingly lies. He takes the 1948 exchange of populations – even more Jews were driven out of Arab countries – and converts it into a unilateral "ethnic cleansing" that never ended. In English, by the way, the term"ethnic cleansing", that Levy uses, is understood as systematic extermination.
Every peace process, according to Levy, is a "scam" on the part of Israel, never genuinely meant, and the Palestinians turned to terrorism only after they tried "peaceful resistance."
Really? Fatah's first terrorist operation took place on January 1, 1965. There was no occupation then. The large wave of terrorism of the 1990's occurred when the Oslo accords were at the peak of their power. Clinton's draft was proposed at the end of 2000. Arafat and Abu Mazen preferred to say "No." Even Arab representatives acknowledged that the rejection of the Clinton draft was a "crime against the Palestinian nation." Instead of peace, they launched an intifada of terror. Olmert later presented an amazing offer. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] didn't even bother to respond. And despite all this, the historian Gideon Levy asserts that "Ehud Barak and Tzippi Livni – like Netanyahu -- always opposed real peace talks." Even Pravda, in its worst days, pales beside Levy.
As is customary among the leftist-global jihadists, Levy expands his focus: "The occupation is the best excuse for many worldwide terror organisations."
This is another urban legend that might be current in Berkeley circles or maybe still at a café on Shenkin St. [trendy Tel Aviv area]. But now, let's proceed from from myths to facts: Nearly all the examples of worldwide terror in the past few years have come from the systematic murder of Muslims by global Jihadists. Dr. Yohai Sela, who studies the field systematically, notes that this year, almost twenty thousand people were killed in violent clashes, acts of terrorism and suicides related to Global Jihad. It occurs in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and many other places. And by contrast, there are almost no acts of global terror related to Israel. But that's Gideon Levy for you. He's not just a marketer of lies. He creates them.
Gideon Levy's Protocols
In his response, Levy argued: "I have always taken pride in the fact that after hundreds of reports from the field – none of the facts have ever been refuted despite the efforts of many."
Really? Well, after such a self bragging, Levy forces me to bring upon one more case. In 2005 Levy published one of his most staggering stories. Smeared on the front page of the weekly magazine of "Haaretz", the headline was "Donkey Procedure". According to the appalling story, Israeli border police routinely brutalize Palestinians by tethering them to their donkeys and then spurring the animal to drag the victim over rough terrain. Levy noted the time, place and name of the victim, Mahmoud Shawara, and wrote: "Close-up of the horror: the face of the dead man is smashed."
But then came Amnon Dankner, the chief-editor of Maariv at that time, who examined the Levi's story in detail. The result was amazing. It never happened. The story barely reached the rank of a faint rumor. Levy was not satisfied with the story that never happened. He added another story, which also never happened. In that very day Haaretz published an editorial, condemning Israel for its human rights violations and brutality.
Under the title "Dusty Trail to Death", the story appeared hundreds of thousands times. Levi's never apologized. Nor did Haaretz. It became a new blood libel. But yet, Levy claims that "none of the facts have ever been refuted."
There are other lies, as well. But space is short.
Here and there in the interview, Levy also includes justified criticism. For example, that Israel refused entry to a Spanish comedian. And there have been deviations by Israel. Israel has on occasion evicted Palestinians, and the settlement enterprise has produced injustices. There are soldiers who have abused Palestinians and they should be exposed and punished. In Operation Cast Lead, as well, deviations from expected conduct were exposed. There is a place for criticism. But these examples of wrongdoing are not enough for Levy. They, by themselves, won't transform Israel into a leper. Thus, his obsession forces Levy to become addicted to lies.
There is no doubt that after reading descriptions of brainwashing, dehumanization of Palestinians, a dog that is more important than the life of a human, non-stop ethnic cleansing, the joy of murdering innocent people, one's image of the typical Israeli is appalling – not of a human, but of a bloodthirsty brute. At one time, they did this to Jews and wrote "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Gideon Levy now does this to Israel and writes "The Protocols of the Israeli Citizens." Dehumanization and demonization that lead to delegitimization, and we're familiar with the rest.
And all the while that Gideon Levy misrepresents and blows things out of proportion, he transforms himself into a courageous hero. The original "Protocols" were exposed as a fabrication and despite this, they are still widespread in dark corners of the world. Gideon Levy provides the new "Protocols" and they've become a great hit, not only in the Muslim world. Anyone who reads Levy's "Protocols" will immediately despise Israel, participate in any boycott or petition against it, and will justify every Palestinian act of terror. After all, Levy, an Israeli and a Jew, finds justification for terrorism and depicts Israel as a monster. So why expect anything else from those who have no idea that what's being said is just a series of pathological lies?
Coalition of Israel Haters
Levy tells the interviewer that Noam Chomsky compares him to the prophets of Israel. He is so modest. This is a dubious honor because Chomsky, who paid Hezbollah leader Nasrallah a visit, sees good tidings and blessings in all Israel haters. And Chomsky is not alone. David Duke, a white racist from the KKK, publishes a Gideon Levy article on his blog. Birds of a feather flock together. And so the parade of Levy's fans continues.
In the past few weeks, Levy was on the lecture circuit and was hosted, for example, at a pro-Hamas organization, which in the past sponsored Azam Tamimi to be part of a Holocaust memorial event. Tamimi is a Hamas member who supports terrorism and Israel's destruction. These are the circles Levy moves in. His admirers are Hamas supporters, Chomsky and Duke. Levy supplies them with material. His material is theirs: hatred of Israel.
"Did you ever consider not speaking the truth?" asked the interviewer, one of Levy's fans. A serious journalist would have asked the more appropriate question: "Did you ever consider speaking the truth?"
It's sad, because Gideon Levy proclaims [in the interview] that he engages in "self-criticism." Once upon a time, this was true. He uncovered wrong-doings. He played a vital role. But something happened to him. He doesn't deal with facts anymore but with propaganda. And thus, even if there were any substance to one out of ten of his assertions, it is swallowed up by the sea of his lies. One should not underestimate Levy, however. He has a global name. He may be the most famous and the most invited journalists in Israel. He has countless platforms. A one man propaganda show.
In the Fascist Camp
There is another urban myth that needs to be refuted. Gideon Levy is the proud peacock of the "peace camp." There is no greater lie than this.
Let's clarify: Levy argues that it is necessary to re-humanize the Palestinians in order to advance peace. He's right. Kahanist-Fascists who demonize the Palestinians are not "peace activists." And, by the same token, one who demonizes Israelis and portrays them as cruel brutes is also not a "peace activist." One who justifies Hamas and its terrorist acts is not a "peace activist" just like one who is tolerant of a "price tag" policy or the arson of mosques is not a "peace activist." But Levy finds it difficult to comprehend that he and the fascists belong to the same camp, a camp of hate-mongering and strife.
Let's return to the angry young stranger, at the beginning of the article, who asked me about Gideon Levy. Even after everything mentioned above and even though Levy has turned into one of the leading barons of lies within the entire world – woe is to us, if we deny his right to spread his slander. There is only one appropriate way to deal with his lies: not to silence him, but to expose him. To refute the lies.
On the day that Gideon Levy is silenced or that a hair on his head is touched, Israel will turn into that monster that he creates in his feverish mind. We cannot give him that pleasure. We cannot punish ourselves like that.
For lectures: firstname.lastname@example.org