Tony Greenstein | 29 April 2018 | Post Views:

There are 2 religions in Israel – Zionism and Security

Gideon Levy is a prophetic voice in Israel.  One of the main columnists on Ha’aretz and a legend in his own time.  Together with Amira Hass he provides the main opposition in Israel to the march of hysterical racism and Apartheid.  During the  2014 attack on Gaza he needed a bodyguard to travel around Israel.
Gideon’s address was not a sophisticated analysis of Zionism so much as an empirical description of what Zionism has done to Israel.  He describes, correctly, Zionism as a totalitarian ideology.
Perhaps what comes across most clearly is the conviction of Gideon Levy that Israel is a racist, totalitarian society that cannot change of its own accord.  Israeli Jews are too comfortable, they don’t or care about the Occupation 10 miles away and they are proof of Martin Luther King’s conviction in Letter from a Birmingham Gaol is that the privileged will never change of their own accord.
Tony Greenstein
A week ago Gideon Levy spoke to the Israel lobby conference in Washington. Many
people have shared the video of the Haaretz columnist, so I’m providing a
transcript below of key passages.
Outside pressure is all that will change Israel. BDS
(Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is the only game in town. The Jewish lobby
in the U.S. is the most important force in supporting Israel. The shameful
Israeli propaganda over the attacks on the Tamimi family, the protesters in
Nabi Saleh, shows how desperate Israel is, and maybe that offers hope.
Zionism is a totalitarian ideology that brooks no dissent.
Everyone kept saying, Israeli soldiers could change things by talking about the
occupation, but when Breaking the Silence
came forward it was crushed. “Anyone who
raises a question is immediately erased, demolished.”
And the media play
right along with the propagandists.
The two-state solution is over, the embassy decision proves
it, and international friends should be pushing for equal rights for the two
peoples between the river and the sea.
On the importance of American pressure to counter the Israel
Maybe you are holding the key for any kind of change, any
kind of hope. Because the hope for change within Israeli society is so limited,
it’s non-existent. People like you can really be a game-changer. Some of my
ex-best friends are on their way now to the real thing, to the AIPAC
conference, which will start on this weekend, politicians, journalists, to what
I call as the annual drug dealers conference. They will discuss how many more
drugs will they send to the Israel occupation-addicted state. How much more
friendship will they express, and how much more money and weapons will they
supply. And I can tell you in the United States, as an Israeli, we don’t have a
bigger enemy than the Jewish lobby, we don’t have a bigger enemy for justice,
for peace, for equality than those who think that if you supply the drug addict
with more drugs, you are his friend. That if you support him blindly and
automatically whatever he does, you are a friend.
No my friend, those are not friends, those are enemies, and I
can’t tell you how happy and proud I am to be here today and not there
The totalitarian nature of Zionism inside Israeli society:
Zionism is one of the two religions of Israel. And as any
religion, you can’t question it. The second religion is obviously the religion
of security. Anyone in Israel who dares to raise any kind of question marks is
immediately perceived as some kind of traitor.
We are getting it with the milk of our mothers… It’s very
hard to understand from the outside, how an ideology became part of the DNA.
How an ideology became something that must be taken for granted. [Growing up] I
know what I thought about those very very few who claimed they were not
Zionists or god forbid, anti-Zionists. They were the Satans, even though they
were Jews and Israelis.
I don’t recall one example on earth where an ideology is so
totalitarian, is so saint, is so holy, that you have no right to put any kind
of doubts, question marks, nothing, not about the past, not about the future,
not about the present. Nothing. It’s unbelievable when you live in a state that
where if you declare you don’t accept this ideology, you are not part of the
place, you are not part of the society. You have no place there. “Go to Gaza,
go to Damascus. Don’t stay here
When it comes to Zionism, there is no difference in Israel
between left and right. When it comes to occupation, which is part and parcel
of Zionism, there is no meaningful difference between left and right…. The
difference is only by rhetorics.
Israel will not change if Benjamin Netanyahu is removed as
prime minister. There is no light around the corner.
By the end of the day when you judge the real policy, not the
rhetorics, yes Labor and the left are having much more sympathetic rhetorics…
Shimon Peres… didn’t stop talking about putting an end to the occupation… He
didn’t stop talking about it’s not democratic and it’s not justice that one
people governs another people, beautiful beautiful ideas that Benjamin
Netanyahu and those rightwingers would have never said. But Nobel prize winner
Shimon Peres is the founding father of the settlements project. So what do we
get out of this nice rhetorics except showing a nice face of Israel and doing
the very very very same crimes.
When it comes to the basic, Israel is really united…
Occupation is off the table in Israel. Nobody talks about it,
nobody discusses it, nobody is concerned about the occupation…  It’s like
the rain, like the sun.. Some like it, some like it less. But nobody thinks
that anything can be done about it. It doesn’t bother us so much, that’s the
truth. It’s only a half hour from our homes, but who hears about it and who
cares about it. And the crimes are on a daily basis.
The Israeli media are in the tank on Israeli propaganda about
the Tamimi family.
The media hardly covers them, and if they cover them, it will
always be according to the Zionist narrative. A terrorist of 12. A girl of
14 with scissors in her hands as an existential threat to the state of Israel.
A girl who is slapping a soldier as someone who deserves life sentence. Not
less than this! A girl that one hour before her cousin was shot in the head 50
meters from her home. So now the Israeli army claims that this was fabricated.
I mean, even the Israeli propaganda lost its shame.
The Israeli claims about the Tamimi family
show that the propaganda has never been so desperate:
When Israel dares, dares to claims that this child Mohammed
Tamimi whom I met a few days after he was injured, he lost half of his brain,
that he fabricated his injury, then you see that Israel is really
desperate. If Israel needs this kind of level of propaganda, if Israel is
getting so low, in denying shooting in the head of a child of 15– and claiming
that he falls from his bicycle– then you know that things are getting worse.
Maybe it’s a  hope for a new beginning, but right now look how low does it
get there.
No society lives in as much denial as Israel
It’s totalitarian– no society lives in as much denial as
And all those are passing Israeli society as if nothing is
happening. No question marks. Very little moral doubts if at all. A
coverup. Living in denial like never before. I cannot think about one society
that lives in such denial like the Israeli society, and again it includes left
and right. Except of the very devoted extreme left, activists, let’s remember them.
But they are really small figures and totally totally delegitimized…. The
occupation must go on, Ahed Tamimi must stay in jail forever, and the crimes
must continue because we have no other choice.
There are three core values of Israeli culture that enforce
the totalitarian discourse.
The first value: we are the chosen people. Secular and
religious will claim it. Even if they don’t admit it they feel it. If we are
the chosen people, who are you to tell us what to do.
The second very deeply rooted value: we are the victims, not
only the biggest victims, but the only victims around…. I don’t recall one
occupation in which the occupier present himself as the victim. Not only the
victim– the only victim….
There is a third very deep rooted value. This is the very
deep belief again everyone will deny it but if you scratch under the skin of
almost any Israeli you will find it there, the Palestinians are not equal human
beings like us. They don’t love their children like us. They don’t love life
like us. They were born to kill, they are cruel, they are sadists, they have no
values, no manners… This is very, very deep rooted in Israeli society.
And maybe that’s the key issue. As long as this continues,
nothing will move. We are so much better than them, so much more developed than
them, more human than them.
All our dreams will never become true so long as this core
conviction will not change.
Breaking the Silence should have been an “earthquake” in
Israeli society. But it was crushed.
Anyone who raises a question is immediately erased,
demolished. Look at the Jewish lobby so called in Israel, and Breaking the Silence. For years
we were dreaming of the day that  soldiers would stand up and tell the
truth. Not Gideon Levy the liar the traitor… no, soldiers who have committed
those crimes will just come and testify about what they had been doing.
And here it came. Over 1000 testimonies, of soldiers who in a
very brave way gave their testimonies about what they have been doing in the
occupied territories thoughout the years. This should have been an earthquake
in any healthy society. It’s our sons. But what happened? Nothing. Breaking the
Silence was immediately delegitimized by the establishment with the typical
collaboration of the Israeli media. I’m afraid to say that Breaking the Silence
is crushed today. And this was just one example.
Israeli society has a very clear intention to crush any type
of criticism, from within or outside.
The occupation is not temporary.
It was never meant to be temporary… There was never a
statesman in an influential position, prime minister or so, who really meant to
put an end to the occupation. None of them. Some of them wanted to gain time in
order to strengthen the occupation… Some others wanted to be perceived by the
world, to be hugged by the world, as people of peace. But none of them had the
intention to put an end to the occupation. How do I know it? Israel has
never stopped building settlements. And anyone who builds one house in the
occupied territories has no intention whatsoever to put an end to the
Israelis have it too good to even think about occupation. And
the brainwashing is too deep for the facts to get through.
I am very very skeptical about change from within Israel
because life in Israel is far too good, and brainwash system is far too
efficient. To have a dialogue today with most Israelis citizens is even for me
an impossible job…. Brainwash is so deep and the denial is so deep and the
ignorance. They know nothing. Anyone in this hall knows so much more about the
occupation than any average Israeli, including those who served there in the
army… So to expect a change from within this society, when restaurants are
packed, when life is beautiful, when there is hardly terror in Israel… The only
violent attacks are mainly now in the occupied territories… Tel Aviv is living
a very, very peaceful secure life. To expect this society to stand up and say,
No more– out of what? What incentive? The hopes for change from within
Israeli society are really very, very minimal…. People like me, my only hope is
from people like you.
Trump’s move of the embassy to Jerusalem is good news in the
end, for it removes any illusions about the U.S. role.
It means that the United States has declared officially the
death of the two state solution… The United States has declared officially what
we have known for many years, the United States is not and cannot be a fair
mediator…. United States is officially a friend of the occupation and only of
the occupation… For the long run I see it as an achievement, end of the
masquerade, end of the lip services. And I’m very grateful, you’ll be
surprised, to Donald Trump, who brought us there.
Activists should fight the Zionist project on three fronts.
First, stand up for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against efforts to
criminalize it.
One must be is to fight this unbelievable process of
criminalization of criticizing Israel. This must stop and we shouldn’t give
up… When they call you anti-Semites– they get paralyzed. If you call
someone an anti-Semite in Europe he is paralyzed, and they take advantage
of it in a very manipulative way. Don’t let them! You should be proud in raising
your voice. BDS right now is the only game in town. BDS is a legitimate
tool. Israel is using it, by calling the world to boycott Hamas, to boycott
Iran. You have the full right not to buy products from sweat shops in South
Asia…. What does it mean that you should apologize for boycotting something
that deserves boycott?
We have one  proof why BDS is the right thing to do.
Look how Israel gets nervous about BDS, and if they get so nervous about it you
can know that is the right way… Those sentences very soon will become a
violation of Israeli law. You are not allowed to call people to boycott Israel,
but let’s challenge them.
Two and three– counter Israeli propaganda.
The second challenge is to try and tear especially in this
country the lie that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. We need
it desperately… It’s all about telling people the truth. A state that possesses
one of the most brutal tyrannies on earth cannot be called a democracy, period.
The last lie I suggest to you to fight is the lie that all this
is temporary…. ’48 never stopped. Let’s remember it. It’s the same policy,
those are the same methods. Same brainwash, some explanations and excuses. As
long as this continues, no one can claim that this is temporary. The occupation
is there to stay.
The two state solution is over, and we must struggle for
equal rights, between river and sea.

For many years I was a great supporter of the two state
solution…. I thought the two state solution is a reasonable and achievable
solution. Total justice will never be achieved in this part of the world, and I
thought that this would be a relatively fair, just solution…
The very dramatic fact, today between the Jordan River and
the Mediterranean, there are exactly 50/50: Six million Palestinians and six

on Jews… It is roughly half and half, two peoples equal right now. If
someone thinks that one people can dominate another people, and let’s get back
to Zionism… the basic of Zionism is that there is one people which is
privileged over the other. That is the core. This cannot go on. And if it goes
on, it has only one name… apartheid.

Even if it sounds now like a utopia, even if it sounds now
like something unthinkable, it’s time for us now to change the discourse, it’s
time for us to talk about equal rights, about one person one vote. Let’s
challenge Israel. Israel will say no, then we can officially declare
Israel as an apartheid state.
We shouldn’t give up… I truly believe that Palestinians and
Israelis, Palestinian Jews, can live together. We tried it in the past. It is
being tried today in all kinds of small frameworks. We can really live
together, believe me, I’d rather have a Palestinian prime minister than Yair
Lapid or Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the question period, Levy said that the occupation would
not last even for a few months without American support. And that Israel would
change if it is truly isolated by Europe, so that Israelis face travel
restrictions. Yes, outside pressure will at first unite Israel, but that will
soon change.
I can assure you after the first rhetorics of, we are all
united against the world, they hate us, then rationality will come into the
When Israelis will be prevented from going to Macy’s for
their shopping, or to Galeries Lafayette in Paris for their shopping, this is
the day that the occupation will be over.

Posted in

Tony Greenstein

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.