Unbelievable! I've just listened to Israel's 'most hated' columnist on Radio National's Sunday Extra (26/11). Visiting Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy was being interviewed by RN presenter Fauziah Ibrahim. (Despite the Arabic name, it seems she's actually from Singapore, and has been working in broadcast journalism for 15 years, including for Al-Jazeera.)
I can't remember, however, when I last heard questions/statements quite as excruciatingly slanted in Israel's favour as Ms Ibrahim's. So much so that I found myself paying more heed to her questions than to Levy's answers!
See what I mean:
*When you say 'automatic [Israeli] soldiers' are you implying they're brainwashed, they don't actually know what they're doing, and they don't have an understanding of the larger context of their role?
[Oh no, Fauziah, they're all Einsteins! No, better, budding high-tech entrepreneurs!]
*This military has been in existence for a long time... are you seeing a difference between this generation and the one you served [in the army] with?
*Have you ever apologised to the parents of the soldiers who died defending this country?
*Israel is surrounded by hostile Arab nations. That's an undisputable [sic] fact. Don't you think it's unfair to target the young men and women who were serving their country, risking their lives to protect and defend the country?
[OFFS!!!??? second time around.]
*I want to talk about the elite or the decision-makers. Is there a slow change in mindset? Recently, Israel's president rejected an appeal to pardon Elor Azaria. He was jailed for 18 months for killing a wounded Palestinian attacker. Do you see this refusal to pardon him as a shift in mindset?
*Can you blame [the Israelis] though, when they are surrounded by hostile neighbours and everywhere you go in the media you continually hear about Islamic extremism, and that threat seems to be larger than ever against Israel?
[Hostile neighbours again! This woman sounds like the proverbial broken record.]
*You have been quoted as saying that 'My biggest enemy is the [Israeli] centre and the Zionist left.' How do you counter the arguments of a group of people whose memories still hold the hurt of Nazi persecution and in Israel they have found finally their sanctuary?
[So the Zionist project in Palestine, even though it kicked off in the late 19th century, is all about the Holocaust? There were no Jewish settlers in Palestine before the Holocaust? Every Israeli is a Holocaust survivor, or the descendant of one?]
*How do you counter the views of a group of people who believe it is their God-given right that they live on the land their faith has promised them?
*When you first visited the Palestinian territories in 1967... Take us back to that time. What was your sense then?
*How did you feel about the war at age 14? It was a non-choice war!
[Oh, was it? Israel attacked the Egyptian air force on the ground in a pre-emptive strike on 5 June, 1967, and according to Israel's General Peled, Chief of Logistical Command at the time: "All those stories about the huge danger we were facing... an argument expounded once the war was over, have never been considered in our calculations. While we proceeded towards the full mobilisation of our forces, no person in his right mind could believe that all this force was necessary to our 'defence' against the Egyptian threat. This force was to crush once and for all the Egyptians at the military level. To pretend that the Egyptian forces concentrated on our borders were capable of threatening Israel's existence does not only insult the intelligence of any person capable of analysing this kind of situation, but is primarily an insult to the Israeli army." (Le Monde, 3/6/72)
*When did you start to question your birth country's actions against the Palestinians?
*How do you deal with the the animosity from your own fellow Israelis? Do you find it frustrating that your voice is a minority in Israel?
*Do you think you may have any common ground with PM Netanyahu?
*I want to go back to another leader, Shimon Peres... His politics started very hawkish then he became a dove. Explain how that shift came about.
*Another leader who started off hawkish and then became, not a dove, a little more centre, Ariel Sharon... He orchestrated Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and he had plans to withdraw from the West Bank. If a solution comes with a soldier, how much does politics sway them away from that solution?
[Ah, Sharon the peacemaker. Not at all sorry about the cold water here: "[C]ontrary to the prevailing assumptions, Sharon did not evacuate the Gaza settlements of his own free will. He cooked up his disengagement plan as a means to gain time, at the peak of international pressure that followed Israel's sabotaging of the Road Map. Yet still, at every moment since then, up until the very moment of disengagement, he was looking for ways to renege on this commitment, as he had done so many times previously. But this time he was forced to follow through with the Gaza pullout by the Bush administration. Though it was kept fully behind the scenes, US pressure on Sharon was massive, and included military sanctions on Israel." (The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine since 2003, Tanya Reinhart, 2006, p 4)]
*You are a champion of Palestinian rights. Are you also a champion of Palestinian politics?
*Do you feel guilty being an Israeli?
*How effective is BDS?
*It's not fair to target the Israeli citizen or companies through this boycott.
[But it's fine to target - literally - occupied Palestinians?]
*You support a one-state solution, but isn't that unrealistic? It means a whole rethink, a whole shift from Zionism, the Israeli identity. Where do you start?
[OMG, expecting Israeli Jews to think - Gideon, how could you?!]