Monday, May 04, 2020

The execrable Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, proves yet again that he is not a journalist but an anti-Israel hack.

He wrote a loving obituary to Denis Goldberg, a long time fighter against South African apartheid. But the entire article is centered around a single quote, and the rest of the article is filler:

 A Jewish hero died on Independence Day, with his death unmarked here. Denis Goldberg died in Cape Town, the city he was born in, at the age of 87. He was the epitome of struggle, sacrifice, courage and solidarity, all the qualities so lacking in Israel’s left. If he’d immigrated to Israel, he’d be considered a traitor and terrorist here. But Israel never had Jews such as him, willing to sacrifice everything in the struggle for the freedom of the Palestinians.
Like his partners to the struggle, he detested what was happening here. He told historian Tom Segev that Israel was the Middle East’s South Africa and that the solution in both places should be identical: one state with equal rights for all. His vision was realized in his own country and Goldberg returned there, crowned in glory.
The link that Levy gives towards the "he detested what was happening here" is from Middle East Monitor (MEMO), a well-known Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood mouthpiece. That quote, where he called Israel an apartheid state, cannot be confirmed by any other source. Perhaps he said it; but the source is quite suspect. In fact, Levy's fellow Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer called MEMO a "conspiracy theory-peddling anti-Israel organisation."

In other words, perfect for Levy to quote.

Trusting a quote from MEMO is poor judgment, but that is not Levy's major crime here. His quote from Tom Segev is.

Here is what Goldberg himself wrote in his autobiography about that quote (italics his, bolded mine)

In all the time I have been out of prison, and it is now about thirty years, only one joumalist has deliberately misrepresented my political attitudes, and that was Tom Segev, an Israeli who was reputed to be the intellectual agenda setter in the Israeli media.

Segev, who wrote for a weekly magazine, Koteret Rashit, asked to interview me. He came, he said, because he wanted to know about the ethics of the armed struggle. And I gave him a long interview. After all, it is a very interesting topic for an intellectual discussion.

At the outset I explained, using the words off the record, that I would not speak about the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) during this interview because I was addressing an Israeli audience about South Africa and apartheid, and no one would give or a hearing if I spoke about the PLO. Those were the conditions of the interview. Now, off the record is off the record. He wrote an article of such blatant dishonesty in which he so blended quotations with his own opinions that his views appeared to be mine. His introduction read, "The ANC is the PLO of South Africa. Oliver Tambo is the Yasser Arafat of South Africa. Israel is the Apartheid nation of the Middle East." I had said none of these things. 

Because the subject of the interview was the ethics of armed struggle, I had said as a condition of the interview that the examples I would give would be from South Africa and Southern Africa. For example, General Peter Walls of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, flew in a civilian passenger plane so that he had civilians covering his military movements. At the last moment the general switched planes. When the plane he had been in was shot down, who was ethically responsible? The general who used unknowing civilians to shield him, or the people who shot the plane down? You can discuss until the cows come home, but the general is not innocent. Segev simply omitted my examples, which were relevant to my discussion, and took examples from the Middle East—Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, and so on —to poison the audience against what I was saying. But more than that, he translated every word related to liberation war, armed struggle, just war, anticolonial war, all such terms, as one Hebrew word, terrorism. 

How can you discuss ethics if you don't distinguish categories? Worse still, by merging all these different ideas into one, he was saying there is no such thing as ethics. In the political sense he was saying, "The bullets and the bombs and the napalm, and the brutality that comes from the government of the day, are clean, and everything else is terrorism," whether you are talking about Israel, or apartheid South Africa, or any other conflict.

His article caused a media uproar. Many journalists who had been in support of Denis Goldberg of the ANC and of the struggle against apartheid now turned around to attack me in the media. I hoped that the controversy would die down, but k mounted day after day.

Peter Allen-Frost, the doyen of Middle East journalists, phoned me after some days. He said that serious journalists were embarrassed by Segev's artide because it was such a blatant misrepresentation of everything I would have said. He said that the editor of the magazine, Nahum Barnea, was embarrassed and indicated that if I asked for the right to reply, I would get it. I followed his advice. The editor offered me space for a letter to the editor. I insisted on an article with the same prominence as the original. I wanted a cover story, too. He agreed to an article bur not to a cover story. We agreed that I would write the article and that he, the editor, would personally translate it to ensure that it was accurate. He did publish it, and friends told me that it was accurately transcribed. . .
So Goldberg wrote a rebuttal article in the same magazine, strenuously denying Segev's quote, but Levy pretends that this never happened and quotes Segev's lies as truth.

There is no question that Goldberg criticized Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Based on what he wrote in his book, some of that criticism seems to be based on twisted information about Israel. But he denies telling Goldberg that Israel is the Middle East's South Africa and that Israel is the apartheid nation of the Middle East - and this book was published after the MEMO article, further casting doubt on whether he ever called Israel an apartheid state at all.

Levy once again proves that his zeal to smear Israel outweighs integrity and journalistic ethics.

Naturally, the Palestinian press is republishing Levy's piece. I wonder if Haaretz gives permission to them.

(h/t Lawrence)

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