For Ha’aretz readers, columnist Gideon Levy offers endlessly predictable, monotonal commentary on Israel, claiming the Jewish state must be forced to do what “enlightened” world opinion demands. To that end, Levy never lets the facts get in the way of his message.
In “Goldstone’s Gaza Probe did Israel a Favor” (Oct. 1, 2009), he accuses Israel of engaging in “useless, automatic mudslinging” in its denunciation of the UN Human Rights Council’s Gaza report (the Goldstone report). Levy either ignores or is unaware of the detailed and measured response to the report published by the Israeli government. The Israeli response, the Initial Response to Report of Fact Finding Mission on Gaza , can be found on the front page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site. It systematically addresses faulty assertions in the Goldstone report, providing such details as the names of terrorists killed in incidents which the Goldstone report characterizes as attacks on civilians and exposes the terrorist affiliations of key witnesses whose accounts the UN report relies upon.
Levy claims international intervention of the sort represented by the Goldstone mission is “the only way Israel will learn,” implying that Israel would take no action on its own to investigate allegations of human rights violations by its troops.
The Israeli response, however, reports “scores” of investigations into alleged violations already underway before the issuance of the Goldstone report. It notes that the
Military Advocate General is now awaiting the findings of field investigations into forty incidents involving deaths or injuries to civilians, and there are twenty three additional Military Police criminal investigations currently in process.
Levy suggests that “people in Israel will think twice and perhaps even three times before they bring down another barrage of cast lead on a helpless civilian population.” He neglects to mention the 12,000 rockets and mortar shells fired on Israel that precipitated the Israeli military response.
He then makes the outlandish accusation that Israel’s only consideration was to minimize its losses, implying it had no concern at all for civilian casualties in Gaza. “If up to now we thought only how to kill without being killed, from now on we will think about the price tag attached to mass killing of the other side,” asserts Levy.
How then does he explain the Israeli practice of leaf-letting target areas as well as phoning and text-messaging Gazan civilians prior to actual attacks in order to warn them of impending action? How does this fit Levy’s depiction of Israel as thinking “only how to kill without being killed”?
In literally telegraphing their intentions, the Israelis were also forfeiting the crucial element of surprise on the battlefield and giving warning to their adversary. In addition, Israel increased its supply of food and other essentials to the civilian population during the fighting. Are these the actions of a force that has no concern at all for civilians?
In the same vein, Levy’s charge that Israel engaged in “mass killing” is contradicted by well established fact. Over the course of three weeks, up to 1400 Gazans were killed, at least half of whom were members of armed groups or policemen. This amounts to between 50-60 fatalities per day. Considering the potent arsenal of weapons and forces employed by Israel, this daily toll is inconsistent with the charge of mass killing.
In another claim disconnected from reality, Levy wants us to believe that “Israel also enjoys endless preferential treatment. The world acts differently toward us, turns a blind eye to Dimona and is silent about the occupation.” Yet, Israel is, for example, singled out for wholly one-sided and routine condemnation by the tyrannical regimes that dominate the UN Human Rights Council. This body has condemned Israel alone more than all other countries combined despite the more limited nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in comparison to numerous other conflicts occurring in the world. Like-minded international groups and now the UN Human Rights Council have produced report after report, running into the hundreds of pages, repeating unsubstantiated charges against Israel, relying upon the same tainted witnesses. Meanwhile in Yemen, Sri Lanka, Darfur, the Congo and a host of other regions, major massacres receive scant notice or, worse yet, their perpetrators are shielded by regimes that sit on the UN Human Rights Council.
Like the UN report he champions, Levy levels unsubstantiated accusations and employs extreme invective in order to publicly flog Israel. It is Levy, not the Israeli government, engaging in “automatic mudslinging.”