Gideon Levy is one of the darlings of Israel-bashers worldwide. His frequent columns in Ha'aretz, like those of Amira Hass, tirelessly reassure thousands of readers in America, Europe, and the Middle East that all of the problems in the region are "because of the occupation." I don't disagree with everything Levy says. There are usually one or two points on which I find myself concurring with him. Levy's latest column in Ha'aretz is hardly exceptional in this sense. In "The Mystery of America,"(תעלומה ושמה אמריקה) he complains about America's failure to prod Israel toward negotiations with the Palestinians, and scratches his head in utter despair about US policy in the region:
No government in Israel, and surely not the most recent ones, which are terrified of the American administration, would stand up to a firm American demand to bring the occupation to an end. But there has never been an American president who wanted to put an end to the occupation. Does America not understand that without ending the occupation there will be no peace? Peace in the region would deliver a greater blow to world terrorism than any war America has pursued, in Iraq or Afghanistan.Even if one disagrees with some of Levy's premises, the questions as a whole are more or less reasonable. Entirely unreasonable, however, is the hyperbole Levy uses to turn Israel into the world's evil of evils - hyperbole that is sure to be quoted approvingly by his fans who read him in English translation:
one should ask the great seeker of democracy [Levy writes]: Have your eyes failed to see that the most undemocratic and brutal regime in the region is the Israeli occupation in the territories?The "most undemocratic and brutal regime in the region"? Come on now. Palestinians in the West Bank are suffering more than the thousands of Syrians in Assad's jails? More than Iranian dissidents and Egyptian opposition activists?
To me, Gideon Levy represents something typically Israeli. He is the flip-side of those on the religious-nationalist right who believe unfailingly that Israel is the greatest and most moral country on earth. When he calls the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "the most dangerous and lengthiest conflict in our world," he demonstrates the same astonishing lack of perspective and self-absorption of his enemies on the right.