Gideon Levy is a veteran columnist for Haaretz, a leading newspaper in Israel. He is a prophet, a man passionately committed to telling truth not just to power, but to people.
As part of his mission, Levy came to Washington last week to speak at the National Press Club.
Levy’s speech was part of an all-day conference on the Israel Lobby organized by the Institute for Research/Middle East Policy (IRMEP) and the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs (WRMEA), two major U.S. progressive organizations.
Phillip Weiss reported in Mondoweiss: “Levy said he had come to plead with the American public to take control of Israel/Palestine policy before all is lost”.
At first, Levy had assumed the invitation was to speak to AIPAC, the pro-Israel organization which has firmly entrenched itself into the American fabric as the premier Israel lobby organization.
“I said, That’s the chance of my life. I am going to come there to Washington and tell them, with friends like you, Israel does not need enemies.”
He quickly realized he was to speak not to AIPAC, or even the Anti-Defamation League, but to a conference which is “crucial and so important” in sounding the alarm about the Lobby.
Levy saw the conference as a sign that there will be change in the United States. “And we jump on any sign.”
In his speech, Levy acknowledged that earlier he had jumped on the 2008 beginning of J Street, the pro-Israel, pro-peace group, saying, “Here it comes! But it didn’t come.” When Obama was elected, he cried in joy. “And it didn’t come.”
Levy came to Washington with the simple message that change in the situation between Israel and it neighbors will have to come from the U.S. He feels that Israel is a “lost case”. Change will not come from an Israeli society which “has surrounded itself with shields, with walls, not just physical walls but also mental walls.”
He sees three principles which allow “Israelis to live easily with the brutal tyranny that is the occupation”. His judgment is harsh in the tradition of Israel’s Eighth Century prophets:
1, “We deeply believe we are the chosen people. Then we have the right to do what we want.
2, Never in history has the occupier presented himself as the victim. And not only the victim– but the only victim around.
3, Israelis have undertaken the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians.” And this allows Israelis to live with everything. Because the occupation does not involve questions of human rights.”
Living with the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians” is not a sickness unique to modern Israelis. The U.S. public does not see others as we would want to be seen, which makes it easy for the Israel Lobby to lead our public further into the stupefaction of a racism that does not see occupation as the evil it is.
The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign began in earnest this past weekend with all consistent slick talk from candidates addressing the self-absorption of a public waiting to be sold new products.
Former First Lady of Arkansas and the U.S., former U.S. Senator, former failed presidential candidate, former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, launched a campaign of appeals to American self-absorption shaped by product-peddlers.
No rich fat-cats in this ad: (click below)
Difficult to tell what the ad is selling, other than a softer and kinder image of Clinton than the one currently etched in the public’s mind
As the Republicans roll out their campaigns, it will become clearer, with each new launch, that what they are peddling is Not-Obama. Not an encouraging future for the next 18 months, so just hit the mute button. This too, will pass.
Meanwhile, there is a country to run and problems to be confronted. Currently, it is Barack Obama who steers the ship.
Fortunately, six years into the job, he is a leader who “gets it”, a leader who knows how the Israeli government does nothing to lead its public out of the wilderness of racism and stupefaction.
So far, it appears Obama will do what he can to confront the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians” and continue to choose diplomacy over military action on the world stage.
His biggest challenge is to make those choices in spite of the restraints U.S. voters have placed on him with a Republican-run conservative Congress.
The few prophetic voices we have, like Gideon Levy, will continue to remind us of the false prophets who have led us into the darkness.
The photo of Gideon Levy, above, is by Phillip Weiss. It appeared in Mondoweiss.com