The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz has a minimal following in Israel. According to a recent Target Group Index (TGI) survey, Haaretz‘s readership amounted to only 5.8% of the news market. And even this minimal share is higher than it was last summer during the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas rocket fire. At that time, numbers were even lower due to a slew of cancellations that were prompted by columnist Gideon Levy’s Op-Ed demonizing Israeli pilots for carrying out their military orders. Most Israelis recognize Haaretz for what it is, an ideological newspaper with a far-left editorial policy that appears more interested in advocacy than in objective news gathering.
Gideon Levy serves on Haaretz‘s editorial board, penning a weekly column, “Twilight Zone,” as well as political editorials for the newspaper. He is known in Israel as an acrimonious, anti-Israel ideologue and activist, recently arrested for spitting and cursing at IDF soldiers, who often invents his own facts to support his radical agenda. His fan base consists primarily of fellow Israel haters and activists, while mainstream Israelis and journalists dismiss him as a dishonest propagandist. (See, for example, “Colleague Takes Gideon Levy to Task” and “Former Editor Marmari Speaks Out On ‘Apartheid’ Poll Scandal“, as well as here .)
Discredited by the mainstream in his own country, Levy has taken to spewing his vitriol and promoting boycotts against the Jewish state in foreign countries where he can try to influence uninitiated audiences with dishonest calumnies against Israel. (See, for example, “Haaretz’s Levy Fuels Anti-Israel Distortions—In Croatia“.) He sells himself as a heroic truth-teller who has “made it his mission,” as one recent Canadian interviewer described him, “to bear witness to Palestinian life in the occupied territories.” Levy acknowledges his countrymen’s disdain for him, but does not attribute this to his libelous fabrications. Rather, he tries to cultivate an image of himself as a whistle blower who has incurred the hatred of his countrymen for allegedly exposing the nasty truth about them. He is aided and abetted in this task by anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic organizations and foreign journalists all too ready to believe the worst about Israel and grant this dishonest ideologue the platform from which to disgorge propaganda against his country.
Levy recently finished a week-long, eight city, cross-Canada speaking tour sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), an anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) group. Co-sponsors of the individual events included such anti-Israel groups as the Arab Students Association, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, Palestinian Student Association, and Justice for Palestinians. The aforementioned groups are Levy’s obvious allies and supporters, sharing a common cause to defame Israel. More disturbing, however, were the University departments that co-sponsored some of Levy’s local talks. These included the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, the University of Alberta’s Department of Political Science, and the University of Victoria’s Department of Writing.
Levy was also interviewed on Canadian radio shows, including the Mike Eckford Show on Vancouver’s Radio CKNW, which aired on March 27, and Michael Enright’s widely broadcast Sunday Edition on CBC, Canada’s national network, which aired on March 29. There the Haaretz journalist disseminated more anti-Israel poison. His voice seething with sanctimonious rage, Levy blamed Israel entirely for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, justified Palestinian terrorism, and urged boycott and punishment of Israel by foreign powers.
While local radio show host Mike Eckford obsequiously accepted Levy’s anti-Israel rants with reverence, national radio show host Enright asked Levy several challenging questions, which Levy adeptly avoided, managing to bring the subject back to demonizing Israel. Eckford introduced Levy with a long, fawning quote from radical anti-Israel journalist Johann Hari’s supposed “interview” with Levy in the Independent [London]. (As it turned out, Hari had pretended to personally interview Levy, when he had merely cut and pasted parts he liked from various Levy columns.) Throughout the interview, Eckford toadied up to Levy, treating him like a hero, flattering him, questioning him sycophantically and paving the way for Levy to disparage Israel, its press, people and leader. CBC’s Michael Enright, by contrast, challenged Levy on Palestinian terrorism and incitement, the BDS movement against Israel, and anti-Semitism. Levy, nevertheless, hewed to his line, using the national program to spread his anti-Israel poison.
Below are some quotes from the two radio interviews that represent the staples of Levy’s speaking tours abroad.
Against a Jewish State
“My dream is one-state, a democratic state with equal rights to everybody, with equal laws to everybody, equal human beings. It sounds right now like a dream, but I don’t see any other realistic alternative.…I am less concerned about a Jewish majority because I want to live in a just place, and I think that the character of Israel will be shaped by regime, not by its ethnic majority. It can be a just binational state and a very unjust Jewish state…” (CKNW)
Blaming All Israeli Leaders
“Israeli prime ministers, one after the other, claimed that they are aiming to put an end to the occupation, claimed that they are aiming to enable an independent Palestinian state and at the same time, doing anything possible to prevent those possibilities….” (CKNW)
Alleging Israeli Press Bias
“The coverage is very, very biased, dehumanizing the Palestinians systematically, and very, very limited, the minimum of the minimum…” (CKNW)
“…Israelis are being brainwashed and I’m trying to break this vicious circle…” (CKNW)
Justifying Hamas Rocketing of Civilians Inside Israel’s Green Line
“You should ask why do they launch their rockets. You should ask what other choice do you leave the Palestinians in Gaza, living in the biggest jail on earth. Let’s be frank. Whenever they stop launching rockets, the world and Israel is forgetting them. Look now, they’re again forgotten….” (CBC)
Condemning Israel’s Military Operation to Stop Hamas Rocket Fire into Israel
“…Hundreds were being killed for nothing and hundreds of women and children were being killed for nothing…” (CKNW)
“… Hundreds of Palestinian women and children were killed for nothing…” (CBC)
Justifying Palestinian Terrorism in General
“The Palestinians do not possess an army. And their only way to struggle for their liberty, for their rights is through what we call terror organizations. Unfortunately so. What other options did we leave them?” (CBC)
“…If you want to solve the problem, you have to ask yourself what brings a young Palestinian who was not born to kill, what brings him to sacrifice his life and to do those terrible atrocities and crimes against civilians in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem, everywhere. If you do not ask why, you will never solve it. And you have to ask why. And you have to come to the conclusion that you pushed him to the corner where he has nothing to lose…” (CBC)
Dismissing Palestinian Hate Rhetoric and Indoctrination of Youth Against Israel to Blame Israel
“Take my word, after so many years of covering the occupied territories and the Palestinians, there is a big majority of Palestinians who want to live in peace with Israel, including young kids, if you’ll just change the reality. It’s changed for the worse in recent years, because those young kids, they don’t need much to hate Israel. You know, it’s enough for them to wake up in the middle of the night and see Israeli soldiers humiliating their parents in front of them. It’s enough for them to get out of their school and to see Israeli soldiers beating some of them, shooting some of them from time to time.” (CBC)
Promoting Economic Boycott against Israel
“Boycott was very effective in South Africa, very effective…. the regime in the West Bank and the regime in Gaza is an apartheid regime. What is it if not an apartheid if one people does not possess anything, not resources and no rights. And I ask, why was it legitimate to do it against South Africa and it’s not legitimate to do it against Israel? Do you really believe the change will come by itself? I wish we don’t need it. For me, as an Israeli, to call for boycott is very problematic because me, by myself, don’t boycott Israel. I live there. But I can tell you that you have to shake Israel because Israel needs someone to save it from its own hands.” (CBC)
Disparaging US Support For Israel: Urging the U.S. to Punish Israel
“…Israel is a regional superpower in the region with the total, automatic, blind support of the U.S. like no other state in the world…” (CBC)
“Many times when someone observes the relations between the U.S. and Israel, one can ask himself who exactly is the superpower between the two and who is in the pocket of whom. It is not very clear, and it is for me an enigma and I never understood the secret of the one-sided relations in which Israel is getting everything and giving nothing, and never listening to American requests and ignoring the international law and also many times American advice. But, in any case, Mr. Netanyahu went a few steps further than any other Israeli prime minister. I think he crossed some red lines that no Western leader would have ever dared to cross, interfering in a very brutal way in American domestic politics against Mr. Obama and doing everything possible to sabotage the relations between the Prime Minister and the White House in Washington. And now it’s time for Mr. Obama to take revenge, and it seems he is going to take revenge. The only problem is that where was he in the last six years? I mean why only now? And how much can he do [against Netanyahu] in his last two years of office. That is still an open question.” (CKNW)
Criticizing Positive Canadian Relations with Israel
“Canada, in its behavior, I’m afraid to say, is everything but a real, genuine friend to Israel, supporting the occupation, supporting their crimes, supporting the settlements is anything but friendship toward Israel. And I think that it’s not by mistake that there are so many similarities between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I think they share many of the same values, both of them spreading fear in a systematic way to survive in power. And I think that by the end of the day, anyone should ask himself if this automatic and blind support is friendship. Would you support a real friend of yours automatically and blindly? Would it be friendship? Or would you criticize him when you feel it’s needed? Today this kind of support which ignores crimes of the occupation, which ignores what Israel is doing to another people, is not friendship.” (CBC)
That Levy is a blinkered radical who spews the same anti-Israel canards again and again comes as no surprise to objective news consumers who follow the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Foreign audiences, however, are less aware of his and Haaretz‘ extreme bias. As Levy himself put it, describing his experience of finally being heeded in Canada:
“It is like a miracle. I am reborn here because I’m not used to so much sympathy and sympathetic questions…. I’m really, really moved and surprised at the welcome….” (Radio CKNW, Mike Eckford Show, March 27, 2015)
Redirecting his damaging messages to this type of naïve target audience, Levy fuels animosity against Israel and promotes boycott and damaging policy against the Jewish state.