Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel's Fiercest Critics: Homegrown

Gideon Levy has a one-track mind: Israel is awful. The funniest example for this came a few years ago when he was sent to Beijing to cover some event; while there he managed to dig up a Palestinian businessman. The fellow is married to a Chinese woman, drives a Mercedes and makes millions in the skyrocketing Chinese economy, but he was willing to give Levy an hour and to tell how awful it is to be a Palestinian refugee.

He has a regular column in Haaretz on weekends, called "The Twilight Zone", where he tells about the suffering of the Palestinians. This morning he published an extra-curricular column. His animosity against his country is even more explicit than what you find at the Guardian.

Yet I can live with Gideon Levy. One significant difference between him and our foreign critics is that he's here. When Palestinian terrorists were blowing themselves up in Tel Aviv, before we figured out how to block them, his life was in the same danger the rest of our lives were in, as Peter Beaumont's life isn't. The second difference is that he's criticizing his own county, not someone else's. Anyone who knows how to read between the lines knows that the American and British forces fighting their just wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are less scrupulous than the Israelis when it comes to trying not to hit civilians, yet to the best of my knowledge no-one in any major media outlet in either country does what Levy does. The Guardian screeches about Israeli war crimes, factual or other, but never treats its own forces to a similar level of scrutiny. They're not only antisemites, they're also hypocrites, an accusation that can't be leveled at Levy. Third, since Levy is an Israeli, he has the right to hold his own society up to a higher standard, even one so high as to be cruel and unreasonable. It's his society he making his demands from, not someone else's.

He's wrong of course, in his interpretations, and not always accurate in his factual depictions, but he's a sign of our democratic strength, and I can live with him.

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