Levy Blinded in Days of Awe

It is a new Jewish year, and so Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy is reflective on the one just passed, 5768, providing a glimpse at what he describes as “a routine year, another year of the occupation of which no end is in sight” (“Blindfolded,” Oct. 10, 2008). 

Days away from Yom Kippur, when it is traditional to recall and atone for one’s sins – speaking slander, accusing falsely and being deceitful, among them – Levy embarks on a trip down memory lane which itself perpetuates – as opposed to atones for – falsehoods and deceit.

In particular, at a time when Jews recite the prayers about “who will live and who will die,” Gideon Levy whitewashes the number of Israelis who died in Palestinian violence, stating:

Eighteen Israelis were also killed in the past year, many more than in the previous year, when just five were killed, and must less than in 2002, when 184 Israelis were killed.

In fact, 36 Israelis were killed in 5768, from Sept. 13, 2007 to Sept. 30, 2008 according to both the Israeli Foreign Ministry as well as B’Tselem (whose numbers on Palestinian casualties are unreliable). They are Staff Sgt. Ben-Zion Haneman, Sgt. Ben Kubani, reservist Staff Sgt. Maj. Ehud Efrati, Ido Zoldan, Cpo. Ahikan Amihai and Sgt. David Rubin, border guard Lance Corporal Rami Zuari, Lyubov Razdolskaya, Roni Yihye, Staff Sgt. Doron Asulin, Sgt. Eran Dan-Gur, a Bedouin tracker whose name is not published, Staff Sgt. Liran Banai, eight students (almost all minors) gunned down in Mercaz Harav Yeshiva including Segev Peniel Avihail (15), Neria Cohen (15), Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar (16), Yehonadav Haim Hirschfeld, Yohai Lifshitz (17), Doron Meherete, Avraham David Moses (16) and Ro’i Roth; St.-Sgt Sayef Bisan, Oleg Lipson, Lev Cherniak, Sgt. Menhash al-Banyat, Sgt. Matan Ovdati, Sgt. David Paplan, Shimon Mizrahi, Eli Wasserman, Jimmy Kadoshim, Shuli Katz, Amnon Rosenberg, Elizabeth (Lili) Goren-Friedman, Batsheva Unterman, Jean Relevy, and border policeman Lance Corporal David Chriqui.

Echoing the liturgy of Yom Kippur: Who by suicide bombing, who by shooting, who by rocket attacks, who by explosive devises, who by exchange of fire, who by mortar fire, who by rampaging bulldozer, who by stabbing – all are whitewashed in Gideon Levy’s column.

Levy similarly erases from memory 50 percent of those Israelis killed in 5767, claiming that in that year “just five were killed.” In fact, at least nine, and probably 10 were killed. They were Staff Sgt. Kiril Golenshein, Fatima Slutsker, Yaakov Yaakobov, Emi Haim Elmaliah, Michael Ben Sa’adon, Israel Zamalloa, Shirel Friedmsn, Oshri Oz, and Staff Sgt. Arbel Reich. In addition, Erez Levanon was found in the West Bank with multiple stab wounds, and his murder is believed to be terror-related.

Who by stabbing, who by sniper, who by rocket, who by suicide bombing, who by explosive device. . .

As for 2002, in Levy’s column of deceit, “184 Israelis were killed.” In the real book of death, 421 Israelis lost their lives that year.

Why the contradiction between Levy and the actual number? For each year, Levy is apparently relaying B’Tselem’s number for Israeli civilians killed in Israel. He ignores B’Tselem’s other categories listing Israelis killed – Israeli civilians killed in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip and Israeli soldiers killed in Israel, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. Yet, Levy doesn’t disclose to readers that the only Israelis whose deaths he considers worthy of mention are civilians killed in Israel. To borrow from his language – this was a routine column, another column of deception of which no end is in sight.
The deceit goes on, as Levy ironically writes:

All of this was observed by Israeli society with eyes covered. Even the nearly 60 Palestinians who were killed in one black summer day in Gaza barely earned a mention in the newspapers.

That is because no such “black summer day” transpired. According to B’Tselem, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the United Nations’ Office Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Groups, all of which keep detailed records of Palestinians killed by Israelis, only a couple of Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip since the June 19 “cease-fire” or “calming” between Israel and the Hamas government ruling the Strip. Thus, Saleem Joumaa’ Hameedi was killed on July 10. A few days earlier, Tareq Abed Oudwan was killed by an unexploded ordinance, which was not necessarily Israeli. Rami Abu Swereh was killed in an Israeli raid the day of the cease-fire. Earlier in the month (before the cease-fire and before the official start of summer), Israeli forces killed 25 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The highest number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip on any one day this past summer was six – less than one tenth the number Levy claims.

Levy claims Israelis have no “interest” in “life under siege in Gaza.” Yet there’s plenty about the “siege” that doesn’t interest Levy – such as the increased numbers of Gaza patients receiving entry into Israel for treatment despite the abuse of medical passes and crossing points by terrorists and regardless of ongoing rocket attacks; Israel’s admittance of Fatah fighters fleeing for their lives from Hamas rivals in the Gaza Strip; and of course, the perhaps unprecedented situation in which a country provides food, electricity, fuel and other goods to a people violently attacking it.

And, again, in the spirit of the New Year, may Levy desist in 5769 from spreading slander and deceit as he has for so many years, abetted and applauded by his like-minded Ha’aretz publisher, Amos Schocken. 
For Levy’s misrepresentation of Israeli casualties earlier this (Jewish) year, click here.

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