Write an op-ed to the Santa Fe New Mexican or the Albuquerque Journal describing who the next (October 5) anti-Israel Lannan speaker, Gideon Levy, really is. The audience should know before they go. You can find information on how to write an op-ed here, and the information on where to send it here.
According to Brian Dunning of skeptoid.org, “Polling data has, for decades, consistently shown that some 6-7% of Americans believe the moon landings were faked; and even scarier, about four times as many Europeans agree with these ‘moon truthers.'” Curiously, most moon truthers come from the far left, not, like most conspiracy theorists, from the far right.
What, you might ask, does that have to do with the Middle East, Gideon Levy, and the Lannan Foundation? There are several parallels. First, Lannan continues to bring in far left-wing speakers who despise Israel and write as if Israel is conspiratorially trying to suppress those who identify as the Palestinian people. Lannan has at least a 15 year history of doing so. (See here for a list of such speakers since 2001.) From what we can gather, they’ve never brought in a speaker who would counter-balance these anti-Israel, conspiratorial-like speakers. This is imbalance at its height.
Second, on October 5th, Lannan will continue its conspiratorial crusade by presenting Gideon Levy to the Santa Fe community. When one googles Levy, the side column summary presented by Google says that “people also search for” Amira Haas, Norman Finkelstein, and Ilan Pappe, all of whom are known to be severe anti-Zionists (and worse, usually misrepresent or blatantly falsely present information when they speak and write).
Third, “moon truthers” are the 6-7% of Americans who believe we never went to the moon. This is the same number as the market share that Gideon Levy’s newspaper, Haaretz, has among the Israeli people (somewhere between 5.8% and 6.8%, according to research group Omics as reported in 2014). Why should such a small number drive policy of NASA? It shouldn’t, you might say. Nor should it drive the choice of Lannan and its fringe speakers who, in this case, are not given credibility by the Israeli populace, let alone any mainstream non-anti-Semitic organizations.
Who Is Gideon Levy?
According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), “Gideon Levy serves on Haaretz‘s editorial board, penning a weekly column, ‘Twilight Zone,’ as well as political editorials for the newspaper. He is known in Israel as an acrimonious, anti-Israel ideologue and activist, recently arrested for spitting and cursing at IDF soldiers, who often invents his own facts to support his radical agenda. His fan base consists primarily of fellow Israel haters and activists, while mainstream Israelis and journalists dismiss him as a dishonest propagandist.”
So, who is Gideon Levy? Even though he is an Israeli, he is someone who sees only moral decay in Israel. He uses false information to support his jaundiced view against Jews. Here are some examples of how he perpetuates lies and misinformation, mostly in his Haaretz column, but also in interviews he gives to other newspapers and in his public speeches:
- Levy makes up facts: In a May 1, 2015 column he claimed that “There are no swimming pools in the Gaza strip because, among other things, there’s not enough water. Nor enough electricity.” The truth: the al-Sadaka olympic-sized pool opened in the Gaza Strip in 2010. The al-Nour Resort, located near the former site of the Netzarim settlement, has two swimming pools. After CAMERA pointed out the falsity of Levy’s statement to Haaretz, the editors changed the Levy wording to “There are no private swimming pools in the Gaza Strip…” Haaretz was as duplicitous in this change as Levy, as they didn’t note a change in the article in the appendix. Note: this was after Levy was called on a similar lie about the West Bank – Levy claimed that there were no pools for Palestinians to swim in, but CAMERA provided photographic evidence of numerous pools and recreational sites in Jenin, Ramallah, near Nablus, Jericho, and Hebron. What do you call someone who perpetuates myths even when they know otherwise?
- Levy uses propaganda instead of the truth. He claims in an interview in the UK’s Independent that his mission is “to re-humanize” the image of Palestinians because Israelis are brainwashed daily. The truth: there is no “brainwashing machinery” in Israel. There are broad commentaries from Jewish and Arab sources, including media interviews with Palestinians, Knesset members, and others. Levy doesn’t mention the constant negative image of Jews from the Palestinian and Arab media. Anyone notice the irony here: Levy claims brainwashing when he is free to write and attack indiscriminately?
- Levy lies about what other’s have said: In a July 30, 2004 column Levy made up a quote: “Levy claimed that Golda Meir ‘said that after what the Nazis did to us, we can do whatever we want.’ Challenged for a source for the virulent quote, Levy acknowledged in an Aug. 12, 2004 e-mail he had none. “Therefore we dropped the quotation in the original version in Hebrew and by mistake it was printed in the English version,” he stated. Ah, but why was the quote included in the first place, other than to support a claim that wasn’t true?
- Levy projects conspiratorial theories. For example, he has accused Jewish settlers of “poisoning Palestinian wells.” The truth: he stated this before any investigation by police was concluded; settlers and Palestinians in a dispute with other Palestinians were both possible culprits.
- Levy slanders Israelis. He promoted a narrative that all Israelis are racist: “We’re racist…and we even want to live in an apartheid state.” Levy stated this after he wrote an Haaretz front page story and commentary claiming that a poll showed a majority of Israelis advocated anti-Arab policies. The Truth: Levy’s own Israeli fellow journalists took him to task for misinterpreting the data. See for example the analysis by Ben-Dror Yemini detailing the lies Levy spewed forth. These lies were then picked up by major US and English-speaking European newspapers such as the Guardian, Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, Globe and Mail, and Christian Science Monitor. Levy seems happy to smear his fellow Israelis. And even when he writes an apology and “clarification” he continues to skew the truth, as CAMERA pointed out.
- Levy libels Israeli institutions without verification. In June, 2006 Levy started a new libel against Israeli Police, the “Donkey Procedure,” by claiming they tortured Palestinians by tethering them to donkeys and then spurring the animal to drag the victim over rough terrain. The truth: after in-depth investigations by another Israeli journalist, an investigating lawyer, and even B’tselem, a pro-Palestinian Israeli group that publicizes Palestinian complaints against Israel, no evidence was found that this was true.
Levy rants continuously against Israel. Here are his general themes as spouted in a trans-Canadian speaking tour in 2015:
- Against a Jewish state – instead he wants a binational state.
- Blaming all Israeli leaders – every prime minister Israel ever had has tried to prevent a Palestinian state.
- Claiming Israeli press bias (ironically while Levy is freely spouting his lies and distortions).
- Justifying Hamas rocketing of Israel civilians because otherwise “the world and Israel is forgetting them.”
- Justifying Palestinian terrorism in general as “their only way to struggle for their liberty…”
- Dismissing Palestinian hate rhetoric and indoctrination of youth against Israel.
- Promoting an economic boycott against Israel.
- Disparaging the US-Israel relationship, and the US support of Israel.
In summary, CAMERA, which studies and holds media accountable in the US and Israel, says it best:
That Levy is a blinkered radical who spews the same anti-Israel canards again and again comes as no surprise to objective news consumers who follow the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Foreign audiences, however, are less aware of his and Haaretz‘ extreme bias. As Levy himself put it, describing his experience of finally being heeded in Canada:
“It is like a miracle. I am reborn here because I’m not used to so much sympathy and sympathetic questions…. I’m really, really moved and surprised at the welcome….” (Radio CKNW, Mike Eckford Show, March 27, 2015)
Redirecting his damaging messages to this type of naïve target audience, Levy fuels animosity against Israel and promotes boycott and damaging policy against the Jewish state.
Last chance to register for the Israel Advocacy Workshop, Sunday, Sept. 25, 1-5 pm at Temple Beth Shalom. Click here to purchase tickets or go to www.sfmew.org/workshop.