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“.
So, what to do?
Find a ‘brave’ Israeli peace activist.
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.
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.
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‘.