The Dangerous Charisma of Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy is a brilliant and charismatic speaker. I saw him for the first time in a video of his lecture at a conference held in Washington, DC on 18 March 2016. If I knew nothing about Israel, I believe he would have had me eating out of the palm of his hand just like his enchanted audience who gave him a standing ovation when he was done.
In his charming way, he undermines the legitimacy of the country he lives in and proclaims to care about: Israel.
Levy is like the boy in the schoolyard whose brother is involved in a fight with another boy and he sides with the other boy. Taunting his brother. Calling him names. Egging the other boy on to pummel him and bring his brother to his knees. The most bloodcurdling part of the performance we see on the video is Levy’s easy and deceptive smile, his sardonic laugh. He pulls you in and you want to laugh with him. . . . if you know nothing, really, about that about which he speaks.
What Levy Says About Gaza
Last Saturday, two-and-a-half at night, in the morning, an American-Israeli plane in the sky, an F-16—very accurate, as we know, with the most moral pilots in the world who never mean to kill any civilians, who never mean to kill any children, who are busy day and night only in saving lives of Palestinians. An American jet supplied by your country, financed partly by your country with a pilot, who was I guess trained partly by your country, is going to Gaza to take revenge for four rockets which were sent a few hours before on a Friday night. Didn’t hit anything. Didn’t harm anyone. They were all falling in open spaces—but revenge must be taken.
And this F-16 flies over Gaza, over the neighborhood of Beit Lahia, which is at the north part of Gaza. Children—and this I know for a fact—most of the children wake up in hysteria because they know the noise already and they know what follows this noise. Those who were—and most of them were—already there in 2005, and 2008, and 2014 and during all those operations that Israel had done there, know what an Israeli jet in the sky means. Soon the missile—the very, very accurate and precise and sophisticated and clever missile—falls on the home. To say home is an exaggeration: falls on their hut or whatever you call it, and the two siblings, Israa and Yassin—she’s 6, he’s 10—had been killed. I’m not sure if they woke up before their deaths or they were killed in their sleep.
This attack, which is one of many, should be presented as it is, as a revenge operation of Israel, nothing to do with fighting terror, nothing to do with the security of Israel.
And his audience buys this as his honey-laden voice drips with sarcasm. Israel is the devil incarnate and the Hamas leadership is just lobbing ineffective missiles across the border; Jewish children and their parents, woken at 2:30 in the morning by sirens that give them 15 seconds to get into shelters, should have no problem with Gazan target practice. After all, the missiles fell in open spaces and harmed nobody – this time!
I wish somebody in the audience would have asked him what would happen if Israel did not return fire for fire as Levy seems to suggest the policy should be. We’ve been there, done that, and we got 2008 and 2014 for letting missiles land without response. I don’t know what he means when he refers to 2005- that was when Israel pulled out of Gaza, in the end dragging hysterical Jewish families from their homes to leave the region Judenfrei for the Arabs who cannot stand for Jewish feet to pollute their soil – as Abbas himself said not long ago.
What Levy Says About the Latest Wave of Terror
I will introduce to them to an American, an American citizen, Mahmoud Shaalan, 16 years old. Maybe they would care more about an American? The army claims that he came to a checkpoint two weeks ago and had a knife. In any case, did he have a knife or didn’t he? We don’t know, because there are very few witnesses. He was shot dead immediately, 16 years old with a background that makes us believe that he wanted to stab a soldier almost impossible.
He came to Palestine to spend some years in his village. He was born here in Tampa, Florida. He had his plans and dreams to go back to study medicine. His life even in Palestine was good, a very well-off family. Did he go really to stab a soldier? Did he endanger the soldier? Was there only one choice but to kill him dead and to shoot him with three or four bullets? Wasn’t there any other choice? Is there any definition but execution? And I give his example, but we have them, unfortunately, on a daily basis in the recent months.
And here he supports the myth that Arab terrorism is a result of desperation by desperate people. Since this youth is privileged, he obviously cannot be a terrorist – he would not be vulnerable to the incessant incitement he suddenly faced on his visit to the PA, a naïve American boy with, perhaps, little preparation for coping with the “kill the Jews” messages, among others. Does Levy really believe it is not possible for this forward-looking young man to grow convinced that shaheedism is a respectable path? (Interestingly, it appears that Levy thinks that Americans need not care about American victims of terror in Israel.)
Regarding his claim to be able to provide examples of similar killings that occur daily – that would, of course, have nothing to do with the daily incidents of attempted and sometimes successful stabbings, stonings and car rammings. But here, as with missiles from Gaza, insufficient numbers of Jews have been killed to justify, according to Levy, our determination to protect ourselves in fact and not only in theory.
Never was it so easy to kill Palestinians. Never was it so little discussed. Never was it hardly covered by the Israeli media, the biggest collaborator with the occupation. Never was it so natural that any Palestinian must be held as a suspect, and any suspect must be executed. American legislators should know this.
Levy makes it sound as if we just go around shooting at Arabs willy nilly. Not discussed? It has been discussed, and continues to be discussed, in the media – that same media that is probably highly indignant to be named by him as a collaborator with “the occupation”. And it has been, and continues to be, discussed in the social media, on the streets, and over dinner. Discussed and debated and shouted about in the best and loudest Israeli tradition.
Natural that any Palestinian is held suspect? With videos of Arabs running with knives held in the air, it seems the evidence is clear that these particular individuals can be suspected of intending to use the knives to kill, unless you want to argue that they are rushing to a Master Chef competition.
And yes, American legislators should know what we are up against. That is something I can agree with.
Levy Vilifies Israel Relentlessly
His entire speech is comprised of one example after another of myths and lies against the country he seems to want America/Big Brother to force into submission. He cynically accuses the Israeli “mainstream” of being obsessed with our beautiful Israel, our wonderful achievements (as if there is something wrong with that) and with eating sushi (oh, the shame) – of suffering from “moral blindness”, in his words. BDS is supposed to forcefully lift the veil from our unseeing eyes and show us that Levy and his ilk know the way to utopia, and that way is paved with appeasement.
The only positive thing he has to say about Israel is that there is freedom of speech – and he admits that he is the proof of that. He did require bodyguards when he went shooting off his mouth while we were running for shelter in the south and center of the country in 2014, but outside of times of active war, he is free to shout out from the rooftops as loudly as he can: calling Israelis racists, questioning whether or not there exists such a thing as Jewish values, accusing Israel of making it a crime to portray Arab child victims as human, damning Israel for killing innocent children and maintaining a criminal “occupation”.
Levy even has the audacity to proclaim that the Israeli Left, in spite of all its declarations of concern for human rights, are no less racist than the Right if you scratch just beneath the surface. He claims that those sushi-eaters, deep down, do not really accept the humanity of the Arab.
Levy asks the USA to “really” care for Israel by stopping the flow of money in our direction. He explains that we are suffering from occupation-addiction and, therefore, the USA must end its co-dependent relationship with us by stopping the supply of the resources that maintain our addiction.
There is only way to expose the evil in smooth talkers like Gideon Levy. It is by inviting them to public debates with equally quiet and charismatic speakers who also have enough knowledge to show them up for the liars and manipulators that they are. As a stand-alone speaker, Levy is mesmerizing and convincing; he needs to be counterpointed against someone of his calibre.
If such a debate was to be organized, would he agree to take part? Who is willing to pick up the gauntlet and try?
If you can stomach it, you might want to watch the video in its entirety: