Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gideon Levy, Absconding Intellectual

Gideon Levy's latest column in Ha'aretz is full of the kind of hyperbole I have previously written about. He claims that Gaza "threatens to become another Chechnya," and predicts that the strip will soon "look like Darfur." In Levy's rather perverse estimation, the residents of Darfur are a bit better off since they are at least receiving international assistance. Among other things, he calls for an immediate international boycott of Israel.

I have long gotten used to these kinds of distortions, as well as to Levy's view that Israel is to blame for everything. What I cannot understand, however, is the posture of complete alienation from the fears, follies, and foibles of his fellow citizens. In another post, I called Gideon Levy a "prophet." But for all their rebuking, the prophets at least spoke to Israel. Levy no longer makes the effort. He has absconded from communicating, from making the effort to persuade his fellow citizens. To him, the entire Israeli discourse is so rotten to the core, so full of alleged lies, that it does not merit refutation:
The return of the settlements could also put the lie of the disengagement to a final rest. Perhaps only this can stop us from continuing to successfully spread the fabrication that the Israeli occupation of Gaza is over. There has not been such a prevalent lie since the "no partner" lie. As legend has it, Israel left Gaza, the occupation came to an end, and a liberated and free Gaza is launching Qassams at us in exchange for our generosity. There is no greater lie, yet look at how Israelis, almost all of them, buy it with eyes closed. "Instead of building up their country," the Israelis cluck with their tongues, "the Palestinians fire at us." The truth is completely opposite: Gaza continues to live under an inhumane occupation, which has only relocated its base of operation. The Qassams are a bloody reminder of this.
Is there no truth at all to what many ordinary Israelis think about the disengagement? Can the evacuation of the settlements in Gaza really be represented as a deliberate effort to cover up a more sinister regime of domination? If that is true, what did Gideon Levy expect Israel to do after its withdrawal? Is it not worth wondering about why so many people in Israel - mothers and fathers, custodians and teachers, the inhabitants of Sderot and the residents of Haifa - believe the alleged lies and fabrications that appear so self-evident to Levy? Is it really a lie that Israel left Gaza, or that the occupation there ended, or that since then Israel has been facing ever-increasing Qassam-volleys? Gideon Levy seems to have endless understanding for the "other." I wish he could apply just a fraction of it to understanding why ordinary Israelis might be scared and why they might see few alternatives to the current set of policies. Or are they all psychopaths and idiots?

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