The Importance of Being Rosalind Levy

Back in November 2010, I wrote a post about the disproportionate number of anti-Israel letters published in the Guardian. Nothing much has changed on that front, of course, but a belated comment recently appeared on the defunct thread from a signatory of one of the letters mentioned in the article – a Ms. Rosalind Levy.

Rosalind Levy:

I am disappointed to see that you neither got my full name nor any of my affiliations : (Labour Party, Amnesty, Co-op, JFJFP, JBig).
I am furious to be described as anti Israeli, I am not. I am anti the current government in the same way that I am anti the current government of Zimbabwe. I am anti the shitty things that the administration does, particularly because as a jew it is assumed they are done in my name and I support them. David Beauvais has said it for me.

Had the (self-Googling?) Ms. Levy bothered to click upon the supplied link to the original letter as published in the Guardian she would have seen that her name appears there exactly in the format in which it was reproduced in the post: Ros Levy. Complaints should therefore be addressed either to the Guardian or to herself for signing it in that way.

As for Ms. Levy’s ‘affiliations’, they too were not mentioned in the original letter and to be frank, it really is just too tedious to waste time investigating the background of every one of the handful of members of such insignificant fringe groups as JfJfP, JBig and such like, particularly as the same names tend to crop up like mushrooms after the rain whenever a new one of these groups is launched. However, seeing as Ms. Levy herself has brought the subject into the public arena, let’s take a closer look at some of her objections.

The core argument she presents is the following:

“I am anti the current government in the same way that I am anti the current government of Zimbabwe.”

Leaving aside the repugnant and unserious comparison of Israel to Zimbabwe, that argument can of course only begin to hold water on the day that we see Ms. Levy’s signature on the launch of JfJfZ (Jews for Justice for Zimbabweans) or JBzg (Jews for boycotting Zimbabwean goods). Naturally, one doubts that the prefix ‘Jews for’ would make any impression whatsoever in campaigns relating to any subject other than Israel – maybe Ms. Levy should ask herself exactly why that should be the case.

In addition, Ms. Levy has been busy signing a plethora of anti-Israeli letters and petitions for several years – long before the current Israeli government came to office – and so her claim to be ‘anti the current government’ is obviously dishonest.

One also wonders whether Ms. Levy has used her affiliation to the discredited Amnesty International to try to get the subject of Zimbabwe discussed at least once at the UN Human Rights Council (I appreciate that it must be very difficult to find a time-slot in among all the relentless discussion of Israel, but even so…) or to get some much-needed balance in their reporting so that the number of reports and press releases might actually reflect the regions of the world with the greatest abuses of personal liberties and worst loss of life.

Likewise, Ms. Levy’s declared ‘affiliation’ to the Co-op could maybe prompt her to demand from that company that its bank cease to provide services to ‘Viva Palestina’ which, contrary to British law, has provided material and cash aid to a proscribed terrorist organization which targets Israel’s civilian population – a clear and evident war crime.

But Rosalind Levy’s most revealing statement in her comment is this one:

“I am anti the shitty things that the administration does, particularly because as a jew it is assumed they are done in my name and I support them.”

Two main points are obvious here. Firstly, apparently Ms. Levy would rather the Israeli government place her well-being at the top of its priority list rather than the actual citizens who have a vote in Israel, even though she is unlikely to come under attack from Hamas Grad rockets or Hizbollah Katyushas in North London or wherever she resides.  Tragically, it would seem that Ms. Levy has some very basic misunderstandings on the subject of a democratically elected government’s legal obligations regarding the protection of its citizens.

Secondly, if she does find herself being held responsible by other parties for the actions of the Israeli government, rather than recognizing this for what it is – antisemitism according to the EUMC Working Definition: “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” –  and fighting it accordingly, Ms. Levy apparently prefers to take a coward’s approach to the problem by siding with and whitewashing the perpetrators of that racism. Should this concept be too difficult for Ms. Levy to get her head around, maybe she could ask herself why Zimbabwean ex-pats in the UK are not held personally responsible for the actions of the current regime or automatically assumed to be supportive of it in any way.

If there is one outstanding factor to be taken note of as a result of the currently ongoing unrest in the Arab world, it is the inability of most Western commentators to see the Middle East in anything but one-dimensional terms. Unfortunately, this disability afflicts politicians, journalists and many an analyst, as well as the general public such as Ms. Levy.

If Mubarak, Ben Ali and Ghaddafi are bad, then the automatic assumption is that those who oppose them must be good. If Israel does things of which they disapprove (and no matter the reasons behind it – understanding those is far too taxing), then Israel’s enemies must be whiter than white and deserving of their unquestioning support.

Of course most of the world does not work like that, and certainly not the Middle East, but the simplistic Western view provides comfort and reassurance in the face of a very complex picture. It allows its holder to categorize players and their actions into neat and tidy compartments and it cannot be denied that such stereotypes make the life of their holder infinitely more easily manageable.

Unfortunately, this one-dimensional and facile view has also become the socially acceptable narrative in many circles and so people like Rosalind Levy can both absolve themselves from anything approaching strenuous thought about the Middle East and, at the same time, earn Brownie points in their social circle by wearing their radical-chic fashion accessory credentials on their sleeves.

The fact that their incessant letter-writing campaigns and attempts to secure a place in the public limelight for their earnest trendy little grouplets might raise objections from those people who actually live in the region they campaign about apparently fills them with indignation, as revealed by the above comment.

The inflated sense of self-importance nurtured by so many members of such insignificant fringe groups such as JfJfP and JBig apparently encourages them to believe that their self-initiated walk-on part on a stage so big and complex – with an ever-changing plot they do not even try to understand – makes the whole issue revolve around them. They are, of course, sadly – if often amusingly – mistaken.

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