Gideon Levy, Freedom House and the truth about Israel

Tuvia Brodie,

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Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is http://tuviainil.blogspot.com He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

On the same day Tuvia Brodie published the essay, “People have good reason to lie about Israel” (Arutz Sheva, August 26, 2016), Professor Asher Moaz had an essay appear at Israel Hayom (“You’ll manage without us”, August 26, 2016). These two essays are connected. One highlights attacks against Israel by Gideon Levy, arguably Israel’s most venomous Leftist. The other suggests how to refute those attacks.

Gideon Levy writes for the Leftist Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. He’s been on Haaretz’ editorial board (Ricki Hollander, “Haaretz's Gideon Levy Spreads His Anti-Israel Poison Abroad”, camera.org, April 14, 2015). He writes editorials, opinion pieces and weekly columns (ibid).

He’s been arrested for spitting at and cursing IDF soldiers (ibid). He’s been caught inventing facts to support his demonization of Israel (Ryan Bellerose, “The Gideon Levy Travelling Hate Show” isreallycool, March 28, 2015). He’s been caught lying about Israel (Varda Epstein, “There’s A Warm Cozy Place Awaiting Gideon Levy”, israellycool, January 25, 2016).

Some say he hates Israel (Daniel Greenfield, “Gideon Levy loses Oxford debate on destroying Israel, blames Jewish President”, frontpagemag, June 6, 2016). Some call him a dishonest propagandist (Hollander, Ibid). Others call him the ‘voice’ of the Leftist Haaretz (Moaz, ibid).

Levy is consistent. He finds no good Zionist and no bad ‘Palestinian’ (“Confronting anti-semitism and Israel hate: Catch a Jew…”, edgar1981.blogspot, no date). He calls Israel Apartheid (“Gideon Levy: Americans Are Supporting the First Signs of Fascism in Israel", therealnewsnetwork, March 22, 2016). He denounces ‘the tyranny of the settlers’ (ibid). His writing suggests he feels only loathing for Israel. 

Now, Levy speaks again, this time in a response to Leftist criticism of Haaretz. That response links the two August 26, 2016 essays mentioned above.

Here’s the story: it’s not news when non-Leftist Jews get angry at Haaretz. They’re not expected to tolerate the Israel-hate that spews from Haaretz. But it is news when Leftists rebel against Haaretz—especially those who actually write for Haaretz.  That’s what’s happened.

Writers Irit Linur and Uzi Baram have been regular essayists for Haaretz. American Jeffrey Goldberg has been a vocal critic of Israel whose views appear, at times, not entirely dissimilar from that of Haaretz. Yet all three have criticized Haaretz—and two have cancelled their subscriptions.

Linur wrote, "After reading Haaretz daily for decades, I've reached the conclusion that you and I don't live in the same place. A growing number of the articles in your newspaper reek of foreign journalism that treats Israel like [something]…far off and repulsive. I feel that the State of Israel fundamentally revolts you…I don't want to subscribe to a newspaper that tries in every way to make me ashamed of my Zionism” (Moaz, ibid). She cancelled her subscription.

Haaretz essayist Uzi Baram came out strongly against Levy being ‘the voice’ of Haaretz (ibid)—and echoed Linur’s criticism. He wrote, Haaretz “isn't losing readers from the Right, but rather [from]…the Left. Gideon Levy and others believe that Israel is a country whose founding was a crime and continues that crime... Haaretz readers don't want a newspaper that is ashamed of its Zionism” (ibid).

But it was the American Jeffery Goldberg who stirred Levy’s ire. When Goldberg cancelled his subscription, he pointed at an op-ed by Levy, "Stop Living in Denial, Israel Is an Evil State”, (Haaretz, July 31, 2016)(Moaz, ibid). Levy had called Israel “Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake” (Haaretz, ibid). For Goldberg, that wasn’t criticism. That was hatred.

In response to that ‘evil’ op-ed, Goldberg cancelled his subscription (Moaz, ibid). When he was criticized (apparently, by Haaretz) for cancelling, Goldberg replied, "I see. Criticism of Israel is allowed. Criticism of Haaretz is not." Goldberg added that nothing gives Haaretz the right to promote hatred. Referring to Levy, Goldberg accused Haaretz of publishing a writer who opposes Israel's very existence (Moaz, ibid).

Levy responded to Goldberg with a column. He accused ‘the Goldbergs’ of the world of spreading “the lie of Israeli democracy and its liberal nonsense” (Moaz, ibid). Then, to erase any doubt about Israel, Levy stated that Israel is "one of the most brutal, tyrannical regimes that exist today" (ibid).

On that same day (August 26, 2016), Brodie published language that, ultimately, echoed Levy’s words: “…if Israel were truly as bloodthirsty as [those who complain about Israel] say, Israel would never get listed as a ‘Free’ country by an organization called, Freedom House, which ev‎aluates the state of freedom each year in 195 countries and 15 territories (Freedom in the World 2016, Freedom House, page 2, 2016).

“Israel isn’t just a free country. It’s the freest country in the Middle East. In fact, it grades out as the only free country in the Middle East…

“No country anywhere in the world that kills innocents in the street, commits genocide, is Apartheid, etc, is going to be graded as ‘Free’. Israel is ‘Free’. No Arab nation is. But of course, that doesn’t stop people from complaining only about Israel.

“Well, they don’t complain. They accuse. They condemn Israel as a murderous regime [as Levy does].” 

The Brodie essay helps to refute Levy’s accusation against Israel’s supposed brutality: “It’s a lie... The world [including Levy] lies about Israel. Israel is not, as some suggest, one of the world’s most brutal, oppressive countries [or, as Levy said, ‘one of the most brutal, tyrannical regimes’]. But Arab Syria is. It’s the most brutal country in the world. Arab Saudi Arabia [isn’t far behind. It’s] the 10th most brutal, unfree nation is the world”.

The Freedom House Report undercuts Levy biased accusations. The Report is based upon an objective methodology (ibid, p. 2). That methodology is based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (ibid). By calling Israel, Free, that Report essentially calls Israel a liberal democracy (see, “Methodology”, Introduction, paragraph two). That Report validates that Levy lies when he accuses Israel of ‘brutality’ and tyranny. Levy lies when he denies that Israel is a ‘democracy’.

Israel is free. It’s a democracy. It’s surrounded by a sea of Arab tyranny. Gideon Levy vilifies the free country and ignores the Arab tyranny? How curious.