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Gideon Levy

Ode to the World Cup

Suddenly a world where a Turkish referee tells Messi what’s what and a black African referee blows the whistle on European whites

Gideon Levy
Jun 28, 2018 12:36 AM


Prince William watches the World Cup with the Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein in the Beit Al Urdun PalaceTwitter

Suddenly – another world. Suddenly a sense of justice. Suddenly solidarity with minorities, suddenly a chance for the weak. Suddenly, a world without Israel at its center. Without Israel at its navel. Without Israel at all. No referee or usher. Not even security advisers and economic manipulators from Israel, and the world is getting by.

No cherry tomatoes and no Jewish genius. No Benjamin Netanyahu, at least until the finish. Suddenly it’s not important whether it’s good for the Jews or not. Suddenly no America, either. A world without America. Without Donald Trump. Without even China. Suddenly, Croatia is an empire. Nigeria is hope. Egypt shed a tear. Uruguay schooled everyone in its group. Iranians are human beings, determined, sympathy-inspiring fighters, may they only succeed. People in Bat Yam are waving their flag and crossing their fingers for them shamelessly. Another world.

Suddenly a world with equal rules for everyone. With an international law everyone respects. No Holocaust discounts. No chosen people. With a Turkish referee who tells Lionel Messi what’s what and a black referee from Africa who blows the whistle on whites from Europe. Suddenly a nation. Not of hatred, but of pride. Turns out there is something like that, who knew?

 

Even a nation that isn’t yours can move you and fill you with pride. A nation free of nationalism. Suddenly also an anthem. Loud, but without belligerence. No religion. No race. A black player in Denmark’s uniform, a white player in Nigeria’s uniform. The French team’s tricolor. Only Iceland is all white, and Korea is all Asian. But they too are on the map. And Russia is a model of good taste and organization. Who knew you were like that, mother Russia.

 

Suddenly even Arabs are human beings. Arabs, imagine that. Arabs. Like in Halhul. Arabs are better than the Israelis, at least in something. How will we hide our shame and what will we do with the cognitive dissonance. They’re better even than Eran Zehavi. And no Eli Tabib. You have to pinch yourself to believe it.

And yet, an Israeli broadcaster wishes Saudi Arabia and Egypt a tie, so neither is humiliated. Would you believe it? Suddenly no “displays of anti-Semitism” around every corner, no Israeli-flag burning, which the knee-jerk broadcasters keep searching for. Suddenly there are no Jews, either. No Jewish organizations. No Jewish philanthropists.

Suddenly there’s something to talk about with the children. Suddenly it’s okay to get excited without restraint. Emotions can overflow. Let Sweden win. Let Germany sweat and be embarrassed, if only for a moment. God help Senegal. Let Egypt not be degraded. Let Peru go home with points. Let Morocco and Tunisia’s fans get some joy.

Suddenly a chance for the weak. Suddenly perhaps they all really are human beings. Even the Iranians, including the Saudis. And all this without America, this must be said again and again, a world without America. Even without Jared Kushner. A world without Roni Daniel and Amit Segal, who always know everything, without Nir Dvori, who recites Israel’s military successes, no Ayala Hasson and no Yonit Levy. A global world without Nadav Eyal. Another world. With Latin America and black Africa, without Miri Regev’s baloney, Bezalel Smotrich’s racism, Avi Dichter’s nonsense, Ofir Akunis’ flatulence, Stav Shafir’s struggles and Avigdor Lieberman’s barking. Can you imagine that?

A world without yarmulkes and without settlers. A tournament without a divine promise, apart from Maradona. Almost without any racist or chauvinist remarks from the broadcasters, except for the Messi and Western Wall affair, which is also, praise God, behind us.

A world almost without blood, and very little violence. No arrogant babble, no “we’ll retaliate at the appropriate time and place” and “prepared for every scenario.” Only the ball speaks and anything can happen.

A world without generals and politicians. Without lawyers and strategic advisers in the studios. A beautiful world, If only for a moment. And look, already a headline is flickering on the news site, putting an end to all this: “Zionist Union in crisis.” End of the world.

Gideon Levy

Haaretz Correspondent

source

Israelis Ignore the Gaza Ghetto Until the War Drums Are Heard

Haaretz February 4, 2016

Two million human beings, some of whom worked here for years, some of them even have friends here, live in abject poverty and petrifying despair, mainly because of Israel’s blockade.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.701213

Gideon Levy |

Most Israelis cannot imagine the daily lives of Gazans.Credit: AFP

The latest news from the ghetto comes, as usual, from the outside. The addiction to fear and the eternal wallowing in terror in Israel suddenly reminded one of the existence of the neighboring ghetto. Only thus are we here reminded of Gaza. When it shoots, or at least digs. Residents of the communities surrounding Gaza hear sounds, perhaps the sounds of digging, and the ghetto is no longer abandoned. We recall its existence. Iran dropped off the agenda. Sweden isn’t scary enough. Hezbollah is busy. So we return to Gaza.

If the Ayelet Zurer affair loses steam heaven forbid, or the Moshe Ivgy affair doesn’t take off – the things that are really interesting – because then some bored commentators and editors and politicians and bloodthirsty generals are liable to drag Israel into another “war” in Gaza. And “war” in Gaza is always another controlled massacre, whose achievements are measured in the number of corpses and amount of destroyed buildings that it leaves behind. Isaac Herzog has already promised as much.

But the real news from Gaza doesn’t reach Israelis. Who here heard that jets of the most moral air force in the world poisoned in recent weeks the fields of a “buffer zone,” which Israel declared unilaterally, at a distance of 300 meters from the fence? Farmers in Gaza report that the dusters spread the poison up to 500 meters, and that 1,187 dunams (293 acres) were damaged in the last poisoning in December. The pilots, convinced that they are doing a good thing, reported hitting their targets accurately.

Pay attention to the sterile wording of the IDF spokesman: “Aerial spraying of herbicidal germination preventing material next to the security fence was carried out in order to allow optimal implementation of ongoing security missions in the area,” he stated.

Fishermen are forbidden from venturing more than six nautical miles out from shore. Sometimes they catch a fisherman or shoot him. Farmers are forbidden from going within 300 meters. Everything is done to serve Israel’s security, and its security alone – and the occupation of the Gaza Strip ended a long time ago.

Just an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, there is a ghetto. Even without supplying “germination preventing materials,” almost nothing grows in it. Up-to-date data from Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement indicate 43 percent unemployment, 70 percent in need of humanitarian assistance and 57 percent suffering from nutrition insecurity.

And then there is the spine-chilling report that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency issued in August under the headline “Gaza 2020: A livable place?” By then the damage to the water infrastructure will be irreversible. The water today is already not potable. The GDP per capita, $1,273, is less than it was 25 years ago, perhaps the only one that declined. Another 1,000 doctors and 2,000 nurses will be needed in the besieged, collapsing health system. From where will they come, out the faculty of medicine in Nuseirat or from the students who left to study medicine at Harvard? Egypt tightened its grasp, the world shirked its commitments and Israel exploits this to continue the blockade.

They get three hours of electricity, sometimes six, in the cold and rain. After that, there is no electricity for 12 hours, and then again for three or six hours, day in, day out. There are about two million people, a million of them refugees and their families, made refugees directly or indirectly by Israel. About a million of them are children. No Israeli can imagine it. Few Israelis feel guilty about it. There are few Israelis who care at all. Hamas, you know.

When the next catastrophe in the world hits, be it an earthquake or flood, we’ll be there with a delegation from the Israel Defense Forces, the same IDF in the same fatigues in which they spray the fields in Gaza. We are always the first.

And meanwhile in the ghetto, two million human beings, some of whom worked here for years, some of them even have friends here, live in abject poverty and petrifying despair, mainly because of Israel’s blockade.

The “We left Gaza” operation is complete. Now we only need to wait for the tunnels to start bombing again.

 

Gideon Levy

Haaretz Correspondent

source

The doctor who dared to come out against a torturous law

mohammed-allan-1024x576

The mother of Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian prisoner who is on a long-term hunger strike, holds a portrait of her son during a rally calling for his release, Be’er Sheva, Aug. 9, 2015. AFP

Doctors who would forcibly insert a tube into someone’s stomach should be boycotted and ostracized, in Israel and abroad.

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz, 13 August 2015

And then he appeared like a beam of light in the darkness, the least likely person. In a place where there were no people, he was a person: Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman. Looking like a Soviet bureaucrat, an anesthesiologist by specialty, he, of all people awakened the most anesthetized organ in Israel – the conscience – and proved that things can be different.

It is hard to remember when a labor leader last acted this way in Israel; when a person who is not a member of the ethics committee went beyond the realms of salaries and private medical services. When someone dared come out against the law. The Israel Medical Association turned briefly into Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, conscientious objection suddenly became a legitimate weapon. Without pathos and without beating around the bush, this courageous and moral physician, who once staged a hunger strike himself, announced that the IMA would not lend its hand to torture and its members would not force-feed hunger-strikers and would not enforce the law that the Knesset had passed. The law? Eidelman noted that in China, for example, doctors torture people according to the law. Bravo, Eidelman.

His statement made the darkness more prominent. Suddenly, it emerged how many collaborators the occupation has and how many agents of evil fulfill their functions without an Eidelman to stop them. How labor unions could have protested and should protest, how unions should have instructed their members to stop collaborating and refuse to do so.

It’s not only the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces, the settlers and their people; the entire society is involved. The engineers, the contractors, the architects and the builders on stolen lands, the bankers and those that trade in the money gained from exploitation. Those who quarry the natural resources in the occupied territories – endless areas of life in which people are involved in the occupation and act like they are innocent. And, of course, the lawyers: Just imagine Eidelman as head of the Israel Bar Association, instructing its members to stop cooperating with the grotesqueness called military courts. A dream. Almost the end of the occupation.

A few more Eidelmans, and reality will change. Eidelman proved that it’s possible. The rest have proven how contaminated and inured they are. They have shown why opponents of the occupation abroad should boycott all segments of the society, not only the settlers.

The doctors are also contaminated. Hunger striker Khader Adnan told me this week in Nablus how the jailors who sat in his room at Assaf Harofeh Hospital and ate shawarma and pizza as his condition deteriorated, cuffed his hand and foot to his bed. There are doctors who permitted this, there are doctors who did not put an end to this lack of humanity in the hospital of which they have charge. They shirked their mission.

There are doctors in the Shin Bet who have trained and train torturers and there are doctors in the Israel Prison Service who are prepared right now to establish “emergency rooms” in the prisons for force-feeding. The horror show of moving Mohammed Allaan from one hospital to another, perhaps to “change atmosphere” or perhaps to force-feed him in a hospital whose director is a brigadier general in the reserves, did not raise enough protest. Doctors who would forcibly insert a tube into someone’s stomach should be boycotted and ostracized, in Israel and abroad, them and their superiors. No research projects, no conferences, no in-service training, no membership in the IMA.

In recent months, two Palestinian hunger-strikers have grabbed international attention. Some cheered the freedom fighters, whose hunger strikes were intended purely to bring about their release from detention without trial. In Israel, their cases were brought up only with regard to the risk to the state’s image were they to die. No one asked why they were striking. Perhaps their struggle was just? Perhaps they should be admired for their determination and their sacrifice?

All means were legitimized to prevent “image damage.” We’ll push a feeding tube into them and foster the image of the state. And then came Eidelman and destroyed this distorted moral

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Go to Gaza, see for yourself

 

Palestinians search destroyed cars in Rafah's district of Shawkah in the southern Gaza Strip. August 5, 2014. Photo by AP
Palestinians search destroyed cars in Rafah’s district of Shawkah in the southern Gaza Strip. August 5, 2014. Photo by AP

In the absence of hatred, one can understand the Palestinians. Without it, even some of Hamas’ demands might sound reasonable and justified.

By Gideon Levy | Aug. 10, 2014 | 6:28 AM |  1

 

Can we possibly conduct a discussion, however brief, that is not saturated with venomous hatred? Can we let go for a moment of the dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinians and speak dispassionately of justice, leaving racism aside? It’s crucial that we give it a try.

In the absence of hatred, one can understand the Palestinians. Without it, even some of Hamas’ demands might sound reasonable and justified. Such a rational discourse would lead any decent person to clear-cut conclusions. Such a revolutionary dialogue might even advance the cause of peace, if one may still dare say such things. What are we facing? A people without rights that in 1948 was dispossessed of its land and its territory, in part by its own fault. In 1967 it was again stripped of its rights and lands. Ever since it has lived under conditions experienced by few nations. The West Bank is occupied and the Gaza Strip is besieged. This nation tries to resist, with its meager powers and with methods that are sometimes murderous, as every conquered nation throughout history, including Israel, has done. It has a right to resist, it must be said.

Let’s talk about Gaza. The Gaza strip is not a nest of murderers; it’s not even a nest of wasps. It is not home to incessant rampage and murder. Most of its children were not born to kill, nor do most of its mothers raise martyrs — what they want for their children is exactly what most Israeli mothers want for their own children. Its leaders are not so different from Israel’s, not in the extent of their corruption, their penchant for “luxury hotels” nor even in their allocating most of the budget to defense.

Gaza is a stricken enclave, a permanent disaster zone, from 1948 to 2014, and most of its inhabitants are third- and fourth-time refugees. Most of the people who revile and who destroy the Gaza Strip have never been there, certainly not as civilians. For eight years I have been prevented from going there; during the preceding 20 years I visited often. I liked the Gaza Strip, as much as one can like an afflicted region. I liked its people, if I may be permitted to make a generalization. There was a spirit of almost unimaginable determination, along with an admirable resignation to its woes.

In recent years Gaza has become a cage, a roofless prison surrounded by fences. Before that it was also bisected. Whether or not they are responsible for their situation, these are ill-fated people, a great many people and a great deal of misery.

Despairing of the Palestinian Authority, Gazans chose Hamas in a democratic election. It’s their right to err. Afterward, when the Palestine Liberation Organization refused to hand over the reins of power, Hamas took control by force.

Hamas is a national-religious movement. Anyone who champions hatred-free dialogue will notice that Hamas has changed. Anyone who manages to ignore all the adjectives that have been applied will also discern its reasonable aspirations, such as having a seaport and an airport. We must also listen to scholars who are free of hatred, such as Bar-Ilan University Mideast expert Prof. Menachem Klein, whose reading of Hamas goes against the conventional wisdom in Israel. In an interview to the business daily Calcalist last week, Klein said Hamas was founded not as a terror organization but rather as a social movement, and should be viewed as such even now. It has long since “betrayed” its charter, and conducts a lively political debate, but in the dialogue of hatred there is no one to hear it.

From the perspective of the dialogue of hate, Gaza and Hamas, Palestinians and Arabs, are all the same. They all live on the shore of the same sea, and share the single goal of throwing the Jews into it. A less primitive, less brainwashed discussion would lead to different conclusions. For example, that an internationally supervised port is a legitimate and reasonable goal; that lifting the blockade on the Strip would also serve Israel; that there is no other way to stop the violent resistance; that bringing Hamas into the peace process could result in a surprising change; that the Gaza strip is populated by human beings, who want to live as human beings.

But in Hebrew, “Gaza,” pronounced ‘Aza, is short for Azazel, which is associated with hell. Of the multitude of curses hurled at me these days from every street corner, “Go to hell/Gaza” is among the gentler ones. Sometimes I want to say in response, “I wish I could go to Gaza, in order to fulfill my journalistic mission.” And sometimes I even want to say: “I wish you could all go to Gaza. If only you knew what Gaza is, and what is really there.”

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International kowtowing to Israel must end now

The Americans and Europeans have tried being the voice of reason and failed. Now they must speak to Israel in the language it understands best (hint: it’s not Hebrew.)

Israeli settlers of Yitzhar in confrontation with Palestinians

Israeli settlers of Yitzhar take position during a confrontation with Palestinians over an area in Burin village in the West Bank, January 14, 2014. Photo by AP
By | May 31, 2014 | 7:43 PM

If there is a world, let it appear immediately. For now, there’s the sense of an ending of the international intervention in Israel. The Americans folded, the Europeans gave up, the Israelis rejoice and the Palestinians are lost. “Sleep now high road / ending comes, Sleep thou king / here comes the clown” (“Shir Eres” [Lullaby], by Natan Alterman, translated by Avigail Caspi-Lebovic).

Occasionally some pope or foreign minister makes a visit (Norway’s FM was here last week), pays loose lip service in favor of peace and against terror and the settlements, and then disappears again. On the high road ending comes, and the king has been replaced by the clown. But even this waning is a statement, and idleness is action: They leave the conflict to the sighs of the Palestinians and the occupation in the hands of Israel, which is sure to perpetuate it and to ground it even more firmly. For that reason, the world’s withdrawal is unacceptable: The international community does not have the option to leave the status quo as is, even if that is Israel’s most fervent wish.

The current situation is not acceptable in the 21st century. It is easy to empathize with the United States for giving up, with Europe for tiring. How much longer can the same road be trodden? How many times can the same futile proposals be read out to deaf ears.

After a brief recovery from the American failure, the time has come for a new way, one that has never been tried before. Both the message and the medium must change, to a message of civil rights and the medium of punishment. The previous route included sycophancy toward Israel, one carrot after another in order to please it. It was a resounding failure. It only gave Israel an incentive to further entrench its policy of disinheritance.

The message also failed spectacularly: The two-state solution has given up the ghost. The world tried to bring it to life using charm. The proposals came thick and fast, amazing in their resemblance to each other – from the Rogers Plan to the shuttle diplomacy of John Kerry – and each one only collected dust in some drawer. Israel always said no, only its excuses and conditions changing: an end to terror here, recognition of its being a Jewish state there.

In the meantime, the number of settlements in the West Bank grew threefold and fourfold, and the brutality of the occupation increased to the point where soldiers now shoot demonstrators out of nothing but boredom.

The world cannot lend its hand to this. It is unacceptable, in the 21st century, for a state that purports to be a permanent member of the free world to keep another nation deprived of rights. It is unthinkable, simply unthinkable, for millions of Palestinians to continue to live in these conditions. It is unthinkable for a democratic state to continue to oppress them in this way. It is unthinkable that the world stands by and allows it to happen.

The two-state discussion must now become a discussion of rights: Dear Israelis, you wanted an occupation and the settlements – knock yourselves out! Remain in Yitzhar, dig yourselves into the mountainside and build to your hearts’ desire in Itamar. But you absolutely must grant full rights to the Palestinians living alongside, exactly the same rights that you enjoy.

Equal rights for all; one person, one vote – that should be the message of the international community. After all, what could Israel say to this new message? That there cannot be equal rights because the Jews are the chosen people? That it would endanger security? The excuses would quickly run out, and the naked truth would come to light: that in this land, only Jews have rights. Such a message cannot go unchallenged.

At the same time, the entire approach to Israel must be changed. As long as it does not pay the price for the occupation and its citizens go unpunished, they will have no reason to end it, or even to deal with it. The occupation is deep inside the Israeli closet. There is no one to out it, the overwhelming majority want it to remain inside. For this reason, only punitive measures will remind us of its existence. Yes, I mean boycotts and sanctions, which are greatly preferable to bloodshed.

This is the truth, even if it’s bitter. America and Europe have kowtowed to Israel enough. Unfortunately, to no effect. From now on, the world must speak a different language and perhaps it will be understood. After all, Israel has proved, more than once, that the language of power and punishment is its main language.

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