Gideon Levy Twisted in Knots (of self-hate)

Gideon Levy has a particularly revealing column today in which he rails against Israel playing the victim card. For someone who constantly plays the Palestinian victim card, pulling off this particular piece of Israel-bashing calls for special levels of lack of awarness. One of my readers, Jonathan Levy, has left a particularly pertinent response which I post here.

Like a beggar showing off his amputated limbs

By Gideon Levy

Tags: Israel, Barack Obama

It was yet another grotesque, if not macabre, scene: Barack Obama taking in a Qassam rocket exhibit in Sderot, holding a piece of rusting scrap metal in his hand after visiting with Osher Twito, the young boy whose leg had been amputated after he was hit by shrapnel from a Qassam. The distinguished guest had barely recovered from his obligatory visit to Yad Vashem, and now he was being exposed to more horrors. The visit, though, was a success. The Israeli propensity to extort sympathy the way an extractor produces carrot juice was in fine form.

The routine was split this time between meetings with the country’s political leaders and visits to disaster sites, like Yad Vashem, Sderot and, for dessert, the Western Wall, also known as the “Wailing” Wall. If only there had been just a bit more time, Obama’s hosts would not have missed an opportunity to include our national suicide memorial on the itinerary, Masada, just as they did when President George W. Bush was in town, or the grave of Yitzhak Rabin, to which many other guests have been guided. And there’s of course the mandatory flyover to show him Israel’s “narrow waist,” the Achilles’ heel of a small, weak country, that same country whose arsenal of weapons includes practically every firearm known to man.

Hosting and crying, crying and hosting – Israel does not hesitate to declare itself a disaster area before every visiting dignitary. A country in which “it is fun to live in,” as promised by our current prime minister, is depicted to our guests as a stockpile of tragedies and catastrophes; a fragile, threatened entity where the real fun takes place when its citizens wallow in its disasters. Only in Israel is it incumbent upon a guest passing through to see every wrong done to its people lest the visit not be considered legitimate.

Instead of showing our guests places and sites that we can be proud of, like the non-stop city life of Tel Aviv, the Philharmonic, the universities, the theaters, and agriculture and industry, we guide them on a tour of tears. We show them a Qassam exhibition in lieu of an art museum. Oh, how we revel in wallowing in our own suffering, at times real while at other times imagined or exaggerated; how we just love to force it on our guests. A regional superpower is telling its visitors: Look at how unfortunate we are. From the Iranian threat to the rockets on Sderot, our lives are a series of sad poems.

We didn’t always whine this way. There were years when our situation was worse than it is today, but when we actually showed pride in our country and its achievements. In the summer of 1955, David Ben-Gurion accompanied the Burmese prime minister, U Nu, to visit Degania Aleph. Upon returning to his country, an amazed Nu immediately ordered the creation of Burmese kibbutzim. Pinchas Sapir showed his guests the industrial factories; Levi Eshkol would often boast to visitors of the National Water Carrier.

If you can stomach it, read the rest.

Here is Jonathan Levy’s response:

“Like a beggar showing off his amputated limbs” – says Gideon Levy of Obama`s visit to Israel. Is this tough, sober criticism of Israel? Or just hate-filled ranting? Here`s a simple test: Does Mr. Levy honor the Palestinians with similar criticism when they show off their amputated limbs? When they prompted round the world the pictures of Muhammad Al-Durah? Ah no, those are the Evils of the Occupation – `tis is a Duty to expose them, and Saintly to decry them, and Mr. Levy is the greatest saint of all. And what of the Evils of the Intifada? No no, those are just the whinings of a pathetic people looking for some pity.

“We didn`t always whine this way.” reminisces Mr. Levy – “There were years…when we actually showed pride in our country and its achievements”. And I wonder – of whom is the writer speaking? Is he perhaps speaking of himself? Can Mr. Levy find for his faithful readers, in all of his articles, a single word of praise for Israel? A single note of pride in his country? And if, as he says, there are such achievements, and the Israelis have earned some pride, how would Mr. Obama ever learn this, if all he read were Gideon Levy`s articles?

This leads us to the crux of the matter. Why was Mr. Obama sent to the wailing wall, to Yad Vashem, and to Sderot? Because the western media is being submerged under a tide of Antisemitism, and anti-Zionism, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1930`s. And yes, it is necessary to remind the world, over and over again, that it is the Jews who are defending themselves in Sderot, and who have roots in the land of Israel.

Hence the reason for Mr. Obama`s itinerary, Mr. Levy – to correct some of the distortions which you and your ilk have spread.

This does get us to the crux of the matter. Mr. Levy’s obsession with Palestinian suffering, and his revulsion at any effort to place it in context — i.e., the suffering the Palestinians would like to inflict on Israelis, and partially succeed in accomplishing — reveals not a man who is proud of his people, but one who is steeped in a pathological need to revile his own people. Hence, the only time he wants to show off the glories of his native Israel is when he can dump on them for showing their pain.

10 Responses to Gideon Levy Twisted in Knots (of self-hate)

  1. I venture to question the use of that standard term “self-hating” for Jews like Gideon Levy.

    Rather, he and his ilk love themselves. It is those other unenlightened Jews they hate.

  2. E.G. says:

    Ach, ze gut old days ven ve ver only a small country – not ze small-Satan megapower… ven a US presidential candidate couldn’t place us on a map let alone dream of visiting the Kibbutz Socialist Paradise…

    But regarding agricultural accomplishments, I do agree with Levy: why wasn’t Obama shown the Gaza-strip greenhouses?

  3. E.G. says:

    A different take on the same argument:

    Obama: Remember What You Saw Here, Learn What You Didn’t
    By Paula R. Stern July 27, 2008

    “…isn’t it interesting that all three sites essentially symbolize our weakness more than our strength? ”

  4. oao says:

    reveals not a man who is proud of his people, but one who is steeped in a pathological need to revile his own people.

    i am with TimetoSpeak: israel are not his people. in his sainthood he has separated himself from it. he has selected, instead, to blindly defend a bunch of arabs living in the 7th century who commit the most horrible atrocities against infidels and their own.

    levy is desperate to be hollier than the holliest. and there is nobody more blind and immoral than saints.

  5. oao says:

    there is, however, one sense in which I agree with levy, although probably more syntactically than semantically: it is indeed pathetic to show the world shderot and complain about it. instead, israel should eliminate the threat, as it used to do.

    impressing obama or the un with the suffering of israelis is a complete waste of time.

  6. Eliyahu says:

    I agree that Levy does not hate himself. If anything, he seems a narcissist. He hates Jews and Israel generally but there is one kind of Israel that he loves. He loves what is “modern” and new. Industry, kibbutsim [socialist entities], philharmonic orchestras [an originally European institution], etc. Whatever is old, really old, and Jewish, is not to his taste. He wants to destroy that Israel. But he is too dumb to understand that the Arabs and Israel’s other enemies will say to an Israel that does not have historic roots, roots in the far-off past, You have no legitimacy. So really, Israel cannot have peace if it follows this kind of ahistorical, anti-ancient policy.

    Levy also seems to believe that the Arabs or the West think as he does. More cognitive egocentrism or ethno-centrism, I suppose. But, although the Arabs hate and despise the Jahiliyyah, the pre-Islamic times, they are pragmatic enough to seize the weak points in how Israel presents itself to the world. And they can and do make arguments based on the claim that the Jews do not have a history in the Land of Israel. Amos Oz once said in an interview in the JPost magazine, about 1985, that he hated what was old and old places in the country, such as Jerusalem, places with too much history. He liked new places like Ashdod and Ashqelon, which despite their ancient names were built mainly from scratch after Israeli statehood. Oz now lives in Dimona or Arad in the Negev desert, places also newly built after statehood. The modern places that Oz likes have no modern history, little continuity with the ancient places where they were built. Jerusalem on the other hand has a continuous history, and a Jewish majority since 1853 by the way, in addition to the Jews having made Jerusalem important to the world. All that continuous history plus Jewish religion and ancient Jewish glory are what Oz does not like. Well, it’s stupid to think that history can be wished away or overcome by disregarding it. If you don’t use and know your history and make your history known, then your enemy will make up a false history for you.

    One of the problems with the foreign ministry, especially since the Peres dispensation began there in 1986, but even before, is this deliberate disregarding of history, including modern history, such as the fact that Judea-Samaria were part of the Jewish National Home since 1920 [San Remo] and are still part of it by international law. The foreign ministry and the Peresites display a bizarre notion, probably of socialist origin, that peace can be made by disregarding ancient history, by making no claims based on history.

    It is obvious therefore that these “leftist” fantasizers cannot bring Israel peace.

  7. Barry Meislin says:

    Gideon Levy is a curious, if not all that rare, alas, phenomenon.

    Think how he must seethe with every Israeli success, cringe with every Israeli failure to utterly fail, exult in every Israeli error, while magnifying every mistake not sufficiently egregious, and inventing sins where they are found not.

    Would that he demonstrate even a fraction of the honesty of this fine fellow.

  8. Eliyahu says:

    Barry [sorry that your monicker reminds me of a certain hypocritical presidential candidate],

    one of the nice things about the Arab liars is that they admit it!!! Muhammad Bakri did it, Talal Abu Rahmah did it. That’s nice. That shows that they are honest liars!! Just try to get the BBC to admit that it lies sometimes!!

  9. E.G. says:


    For Bakri, Abu Rahmah and Levy the ends justify the means.
    But each of them has his own ends. While the Israeli and the Pali Arabs want to advance “The Cause”, Levy pretends to denounce the Israeli ugly face/occupation, in order to advance his case. In his eyes he’s not lying, just opining. Selecting facts that match the opinion, even exaggerating, is not lying, he’d argue. He presumes to represent Israel’s moral conscience. Indeed, who’d know his name had he merely criticized Israel as his many colleagues do? It’s the way he found to become a world-wide celebrity.

  10. oao says:

    So really, Israel cannot have peace if it follows this kind of ahistorical, anti-ancient policy.

    israel cannot have peace/legitimacy no matter what it does/is. not only the arabs, but the west now is denying its legitimacy. this is not just appeasement of the jihadis, but also good old attempts to get rid of the guilt of the consequences of antisemitism.

    Well, it’s stupid to think that history can be wished away or overcome by disregarding it.

    to a point. israel should emphsize that each and every nation in the world — particularly the arabs — live on land taken from others, and they have no business singling out israel for it. in fact, the jews have the strongest argument for israel because they were exterminated due to lack of their own land. what is the americans’ excuse re indians or the arabs’ excuse re their muslim conquests?

    I always tell americans that when they give their land back to the indians and arabs their conquests to the infidels, israel jews will give back theirs to the arabs. much better historical argument than rights to the land. I would go through the history of every nation that demands israeli withdrawal and locate the original residents and demand they withdraw. should shut their mouth pretty fast.

    In his eyes he’s not lying, just opining.

    it’s easy to make eyes see what one wants to see. lies are lies, period. who cares about illusions or delusions?

    Indeed, who’d know his name had he merely criticized Israel as his many colleagues do? It’s the way he found to become a world-wide celebrity.

    why he does it I understand. why the world makes liars a celebrity is the root problem, not he.

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