Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jewish Antisemites: Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy throws down a plausible gauntlet, which I'll pick up presently: whoever supports Israel's actions against Hamas, must accept responsibility for the civilian dead.

Before responding to his thesis, however, it's important to read his language. As a matter of fact, it's important to read it in the language he wrote, Hebrew. Alas, I can't link to the Hebrew original because his editors have already hidden it on their website. The English translation of his column is sanitized and mostly harmless:
This war, perhaps more than its predecessors, is exposing the true deep veins of Israeli society. Racism and hatred are rearing their heads, as is the impulse for revenge and the thirst for blood. The "inclination of the commander" in the Israel Defense Forces is now "to kill as many as possible," as the military correspondents on television describe it. And even if the reference is to Hamas fighters, this inclination is still chilling.

The unbridled aggression and brutality are justified as "exercising caution": the frightening balance of blood - about 100 Palestinian dead for every Israeli killed, isn't raising any questions, as if we've decided that their blood is worth one hundred times less than ours, in acknowledgment of our inherent racism.
You'll simply have to take my word for it, that the original Hebrew version is far worse. It drips with venom, and is permeated with hatred. Reading it last Friday in the paper version made me physically recoil. Hatred such as this never appears in places like the Guardian (well, not in the parts published by the paper; the responders on Comment is Free often plumb similar depths).

Levy is only a few years older than I: we're contemporaries. We live roughly in the same society, and remember the same events and how our society coped with them. The society Levy describes so routinely is one I've never encountered. Are there expressions of hatred of Palestinians in Israeli society? Yes. Are they remotely as pervasive as Levy says they are? No. Are there ANY adult Israelis who glory in spilling Palestinian blood? No. I repeat: no. There are the tiny group of criminal lunatics eager to harm Palestinians, and there are those who will fulminate and spew venom. But are there any who have "the impulse for revenge and thirst for blood", as an impulse one acts upon? No. I repeat, for the benefit of all who will use this post to castigate me for being blind to reality: no, there are no such Israelis. Well, there was one, Baruch Goldstein, and that was 15 years ago, and I can name him still.

I'm a historian of Nazism by training; I know about bloodthirst. It doesn't exist in Israel. I'm a student of the phenomenon of genocides; I've read bookshelves of the relevant literature. The impulse to destroy your enemy that manifests itself in mass murder or genocide doesn't exist in Israeli society. Doesn't.

So why does Levy say it does? Because he himself is a man fuelled by hatred.

He's a talented writer; language is his primary tool and he wields it well. He hates the society he lives in. He hates us. The venom he uses to talk about us really is frightening, because he's a man consumed by hatred. Since that's who he is, he see us as he himself is: as hate consumed monsters. I doubt Levy would ever use violence on anyone, but the ability to restrain your potential for physical violence doesn't mean the hatred that consumes you is also restrained. With Levy, it isn't; on the contrary. Precisely because he isn't a physically violent man, but he is consumed by hatred, he imagines all the rest of us are as sick as he is.

We aren't.But he is so consumed he cannot see this any longer.


Fabián said...

Wow, good words.
Levy is like that. Someone with hatred but powerless. So, he writes venom. Who does he remind me of...? someone from Rosario, I think...

Punditarian said...

People like Levy have hated Western civilization from way back. They support the terrorists, because the terrorists are doing the dirty work that they dream of doing themselves.

joseph said...

Dr. Lozowick,

We all tend to think that other people think and approach problems in the same way that we do. The big problem with the liberal approach to conflict resolution is that liberals think that everybody wants to reach some accord and are therefore willing to compromise to achieve that goal. T'aint so. It is very similar to how previous history will affect a worldview, as you so aptly described in a previous entry about how historical colonialism has influenced the view of various commentators.


Soccer Dad said...

Maybe you want to add Tony Karon to the list.

Anonymous said...

What is it with you ?

"there are those who will fulminate and spew venom. But are there any who have "the impulse for revenge and thirst for blood", as an impulse one acts upon? No."
so you let those of your countrymen who speak hatefully but don't act it out off the hook (and by the way i have read numerous quotes from your countrymen where they are stating that the Palestinians should be wiped out in various forms of violent reprisal)

"I doubt Levy would ever use violence on anyone, but the ability to restrain your potential for physical violence doesn't mean the hatred that consumes you is also restrained. With Levy, it isn't"
Of all those who speak "hatefully" in your country it is only Mr Levy who qualifies for this observation ?

(and i think that there are many who so qualify was Mr. Levy's point)

PS i am give respect to you for addressing Mr. Levy's valid points in your next article.

But surely the thought that "any attempt to disband it (Israel) would result in mass suffering of millions of people, and the disruptions of millions of lives." is alarmist and reveals an interesting aspect of your pathology. The Dissbanding of Israel is not a proposal in any UN resolution (nor was it in the minds of the majority of fellow humans across the globe - however recent untenable aggression by Israel (including Lebanon 2006) may be initializing the manifesting of this very paranoid fear)

i also applaud your statement in that article that you would be " very happy if the Palestinians would decide to live alongside us in peace, each of us regretting that part of the joint homeland in the other country, but each at peace with what we have."

The sticking point I assume is that old rallying call of resistance regarding "driving Israel into the sea" plus i would suggest the aggressive infiltration of the settlements into the designated Palestinian lands.

The issue of the state of Palestine having the right to pre-1967 borders is not - it seems "a decision for the Jews to make, not for others."