Guardian

Giles Fraser finds one righteous Jew – and his name is Gideon Levy


One of the most edifying political experiences I had before making Aliyah occurred in 2007 when I observed an anti-Israel event outside Philadelphia, in which an anti-Zionist Jew named Marc Ellis was asked by an anti-Zionist non-Jew, at the Q&A after the event, how many ‘righteous Jews’, like him, there actually were in the world.  

Ellis’s answer: “Sadly, not very many“.

Indeed, many within the Guardian Left often insist upon the virtue of ‘left-wing’, ‘peace activist’, ‘human rights-advocating’ Israelis, in contrast to the living, breathing obstacles-to-peace represented by the ‘right-wing’, ‘settler’, ‘ultra-Zionist‘, ‘war-hungry’, ‘anti-Arab’ variety Israeli – a paradigm that’s been compromised of late by the near universal Israeli support for their country’s war against an extremist movement which calls for the mass murder of Jews known as Hamas.

Israeli writer Amos Oz, a founder of “Peace Now,” explained recently why he supports the war, by stating quite simply: “The only way to repel aggression is unfortunately by force”.

This clearly presented a dilemma for the Guardian’s Giles Fraser, in his Aug. 7 op-ed, “Against the war: the movement that dare not speak its name in Israel“. 

The Guardian’s Giles Fraser

So, what to do?  

Find a ‘brave’ Israeli peace activist.

Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy

Fraser’s protagonist is Ha’aretz’s prolific anti-Zionist, Gideon Levy, whose infamous record of baseless claims includes falsifying a poll to suggest Israeli support for apartheid (for which he was forced to apologize) and parroting the ‘Zionism = Racism’ canard in declaring that “a Jewish state means a racist, nationalistic state, meant for Jews only.”

Much like an interview with Levy in 2010 at the Independent (by the radical anti-Israel journalist Johann Hari)Fraser presents the Ha’aretz columnist as a courageous voice who strives to expose Israel’s immutable sin.

Fraser writes:

In his column in Haaretz, [Levy] has long since banged the drum for greater Israeli empathy towards the suffering of the Palestinians. He is a well-known commentator on the left, and one of the few prepared to stick his head above the parapet

Levy’s unpardonable crime is vocal opposition to the war and to the bombing of Gaza. According to recent polls, support for the military operation in Gaza among the Jewish Israeli public stands somewhere between 87% (Channel 10 News) and 95% (Israel Democracy Institute). Even those who are secretly against the war are cautious about voicing their opinion openly.

Of course, the suggestion that Israelis who oppose the war are “cautious about voicing their opinion openly” would be news to the thousands who have turned out for anti-war protests in Tel Aviv over the past several weeks.

 Fraser then seeks an alternative explanation for the overwhelming Israeli support for their country’s war with Hamas.

Most newspapers and TV channels are simply cheerleaders for the government line, offering a constant diet of fear and fallen heroes, with little evidence of any of the atrocities going on in Gaza. The problem is, ordinary Israelis have little idea what has been going on. I know so much more about what is happening in Gaza when I’m sitting in London than I do in Tel Aviv. Under this level of information manipulation, how can ordinary Israelis be expected to be critical?

Fraser’s hubris is extraordinary. Not only does he fail to empathize with the citizens of a nation sharing a border with an Islamist extremist group which seeks their annihilation, but actually seems to think that Israelis don’t share his views because they don’t live in London, and therefore evidently aren’t privy to what’s ‘really’ happening in Gaza.

Fraser continues: 

Later I go for a drink at a friend’s flat in Tel Aviv with a group of broadly leftwing activists in their late 20s and early 30s, NGO types that I was expecting would share my exasperation. And I make a mistake, assuming too much common ground. I ask whether their fear of rockets is properly calibrated to reality, given that people are so much more likely to die in a car accident in Israel than at the hands of Hamas. And there is an awkward reaction. The question was insensitive. 

‘Insensitive’, indeed.  In addition to the psychological terror which countless Israelis – including young children – suffer from the thousands of rocket attacks since Hamas’s rise to power in 2006, over the past fifteen years alone more than 1,200 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terror attacks. An additional 8,500 or so were maimed and wounded.

Finally, after expressing his dismay at the failure of even peace activists to condemn their country, Fraser’s protagonist again speaks:

Levy had warned me earlier. “The young people are the worst. More ignorant. More brainwashed. They have never met a Palestinian in their lives.”

However, the suggestion that young Israelis are uninformed because they have never met Palestinians is absurd. There are (to cite just one example) more than 370,000 Palestinian residents of Israel in east Jerusalem alone – permanent residents of the state who Jewish Israelis meet in cafes, shops, places of work, hospitals and every conceivable public and private venue. 

Indeed, if you want to throw around words like “brainwashed” and “ignorant”, we could certainly point to fact that the Guardian’s resident Anglican Priest came to the Jewish state in search of righteous Israeli Jews and, save Gideon Levy, found ‘sadly not very many‘.  

24 replies »

  1. Gideon Levy’s always had something of the “I’m the ONLY ONE WHO CARES!” about him, while Giles Fraser’s creepy take on Israelis is long established.

    So their coming together was always going to result in an icky article.

  2. “The problem is, ordinary Israelis have little idea what has been going on. I know so much more about what is happening in Gaza when I’m sitting in London than I do in Tel Aviv. Under this level of information manipulation, how can ordinary Israelis be expected to be critical?”

    LoL he knows what Hamas want him to know not what is really happaning in Gaza.
    Israelis are citical of the fact that rockets might continue to fall in Israel . No one need to tell us what is going on in Gaza we are just tired of running to shelter.
    No wonder he likes Levy they like the same lies.

  3. Mr. Giles obviously knows less about what is going on in Gaza because he continues to spout his nonsense. He even know less about what goes on in Israel than the average hermit.

  4. How do you translate the Hebrew famous :
    “רבי אליעזר אומר לא לחנם הלך זרזיר אצל עורב אלא מפני שהוא מינו”?

  5. Gidon Levy is PAID by Haaretz to play the asshole. He made a CAREER of it. The moment he stops denigrating Israel his career is over – his journalistic exploits have no merit and he knows it.

  6. “the near universal Israeli support for their country’s war against [Hamas]”

    Looking at that poll from the Israeli Democracy Institute:
    a) The first mention of Arab Israelis is the poll figures on their “performance” in the eyes of Jewish Israelis.
    b) Arab Israelis were not polled for the survey.

    It seems they do not count in the eyes of the Institute or indeed CifWatch?

    And if you’re going to call a journalist “radical anti-Israel”, then the likes of Seamus Milne would meet that billing. But Johann Hari? Come off it.

    Finally it is deeply dishonest to use the phrase “righteous Jew” in the headline as if that were Giles Fraser’s wording.

    Try stopping the slurs and concentrating on the actual issues.

    • You’re right that excluding Arab Israelis from the poll skews the results and is problematic. The problem though is that if you’d poll Arab Israel about whether they’d like to see all Jews pack their bags and leave you’d also see universal support. So how do you address that?