31 March 2011

Gideon Levy on dissidents and spies

In an opinion piece published in Ha’aretz on 24 March columnist Gideon Levy writes that the little sympathy that Israel still receives from the rest of the world it owes to dissident groups like B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Anarchists Against the Fence, Gush Shalom, and a small band of radical dissidents and journalists.

The campaign of delegitimization against it, the real one and the one we invent, we owe to Avigdor Lieberman and Israel Beiteinu, to Benjamin Netanyahu and the flood of anti-democratic laws of his people and of Kadima, to the unbridled Israel Defense Forces and to the settlers who know no boundaries. One day of Operation Cast Lead did Israel more damage than all the critical articles taken together; the fatal attack on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara dragged down Israel's image more than all the anti-Israeli lectures taken together; the "Nakba Law" stank more than all the petitions.

The ever-growing initiative to boycott, excoriate and ostracize Israel was born out of the pictures of Gaza and the scenes from the Marmara. The fact that there are Israelis who have joined the criticism can only be chalked up to Israel's dwindling credit in universities in the United States, in the academic world of Europe and in newspapers in both places. Just imagine how Israel would look without them: North Korea.

He goes on to write about his recent invited visit to the Jewish Book Week in London, and to Dublin, following the publication in English of his book The Punishment of Gaza.

I spoke, as I always do, against the occupation, the injustices and the damage it does to Israel and to the Palestinians, against the attacks on Israeli democracy as I have written in the hundreds of articles that have been published in Haaretz in Hebrew and in English, and as I did at the London School of Economics and Trinity University in Dublin.

As on previous occasions, a "spy" from the Israeli Embassy was sent to Trinity - this one, an Israeli student who was asked to write down what I said and convey it to the embassy. The embassy quickly dispatched a report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and the Foreign Ministry quickly leaked it to a well-known newspaper, which published only my harshest statements, without context - and there you have it: the indictment of a dissident.

... one cannot ignore the message conveyed by such conduct - that of a witch hunt against a journalist whose opinions diverge from the party line.

Read Levy’s article in full here.

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