Ha’aretz Journalist’s Speaking Tour: Sponsored by Anti-Zionists

One of Israel’s greatest strengths is, conversely, one of its greatest weaknesses in the battle over its international image. Israel possesses a free and vibrant press that allows a full range of critical opinion and accountability over government and state bodies. Indeed, some of the most critical stories in the foreign media are those that appeared first in the pages of Ha’aretz – widely regarded as Israel’s equivalent of the New York Times. (Its English print edition is packaged as part of the International Herald Tribune.)

One of Israel’s most vociferous critics in the Israeli media is Ha’aretz commentator Gideon Levy who regularly demonizes the Jewish state to foreign audiences and in his own newspaper columns.

Levy, however, goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel, crossing red lines and allying himself with those who refer to Israel as a racist ‘apartheid state’, promote boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and wish to see the very destruction of Israel.

In his latest speaking tour, Levy is promoting his new book “The Punishment of Gaza” in Britain. Despite (or perhaps taking advantage of) the rarified atmosphere surrounding Israel’s image in the UK, Levy has chosen to ally himself with radical anti-Israel organizations.

While Levy is perfectly within his rights as a private citizen to travel freely and address any audience he likes, we question both his judgment and his agenda. Does he really not have any idea of the particularly vicious nature of the fringe groups he is being sponsored by?

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign – Fringe Extremists Promoting Hate

Three events took place in Scotland organized by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. As outlined by Harry’s Place blog, the SPSC chose to commemorate the UK’s national Holocaust Memorial Day in 2007 by

staging the entirely discredited play, “Perdition”. The Royal Court Theatre in London had originally planned to stage the play, written by the British Trotskyist Jim Allen, in 1987. The play alleged that “the Zionists” collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust and went so far as to imply that “the Zionists” positively desired the slaughter of Jews in order to help them generate sufficient public sympathy and Jewish emigration to found the State of Israel.

In 2009, the SPSC organized a Holocaust Memorial Event featuring Azzam Tamimi, a Guardian ‘Comment is Free’ contributor identified by the Malaysian National News Agency as ‘Hamas’ Special Envoy’.

In an appearance on BBCs HARDTalk, Tamimi stated of suicide bombing attacks on Israel:

I would do it … If I have the opportunity I would do it … If I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it.

In addition to his connections to Hamas, Tamimi is also a fan of Hezbollah, and in an article praising the anti-Semitic terrorist group he has spoken glowingly of its members love of death in martyrdom.

In 2008, the SPSC, which actively promotes the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, fabricated a story that it had successfully persuaded a number of Scottish companies and academic institutions to boycott Israeli water company Eden Springs.

The SPSC also likes to promote jazz concerts by Gilad Atzmon. That’s the same Atzmon who has stated:

American Jewry makes any debate on whether the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world.

As well as:

To regard Hitler as the wickedest man and the Third Reich as the embodiment of evilness is to let Israel off the hook.

We have to admit that Israel is the ultimate evil rather than Nazi Germany.

Is this the sort of organization that Gideon Levy, a Ha’aretz journalist, is prepared to cooperate and share a platform with?

Amnesty, Snow and the BBC’s Bowen

Levy also spoke at an event organized jointly by the Manchester branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, the leading UK group advocating a boycott of Israeli academia.

The British Committee’s remit is to pressure the UK government and European Union for the exclusion of Israel from the European Research Area and encourage academics to break all professional links with Israel.

As reported by the Jewish Chronicle, senior Jewish figures were told to “get out” because they were Zionists, by the chair of the public meeting before being admitted thanks to Levy’s personal intervention.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which the SPSC is a constituent member, also allies itself with a variety of Islamist groups and is a leading force in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.

In addition to the events above, Levy also participated in an Amnesty International event in conversation with Channel Four newscaster Jon Snow. Amnesty’s one-sided and hostile approach towards Israel has been well-documented by NGO Monitor.

As for Jon Snow, in 2006 he launched an astonishing verbal assault on an Israeli diplomat and, referring to Qassam missiles from Gaza, stated:

Rockets – pretty pathetic things, nobody gets injured, they’re homemade and you well k
now they [the Palestinians] have nothing much stronger than an AK-47. They have no RPG’s, they have no weapons and now you’re delivering some of the most sophisticated bombardment that’s ever been subjected to of defenceless people. Is that an act of terror would you say?

A report on the Amnesty event can be seen here, courtesy of Richard Millet, who was present.

Levy rounded off his speaking engagements with a closed meeting in conversation with the BBC’s Mideast Editor Jeremy Bowen, someone whose anti-Israel bias is well-known to HonestReporting readers and was censured by the BBC Trust in 2009 for breaching impartiality and accuracy rules.


Prostituting Himself at Israel’s Expense

Gideon Levy’s itinerary and those organizations and media personalities that he has chosen to align himself with lead us to the conclusion that he has used his UK book tour to prostitute himself at Israel’s expense. At the Amnesty event, Levy claimed:

All I do is care about Israel. I’ve used my journalistic career for a better Israel, not against Israel.

Can Levy really be so naive as to believe that he is not simply aiding the vicious campaing of demonization and delegitimization of Israel taking place in the UK today?

Or is he cynically appealing to the most debased audiences in an attempt to sell more books?

Either way, Gideon Levy’s actions merely add to the suspicion surrounding Ha’aretz’s irresponsible and politically driven agenda that has caused so much damage to Israel’s reputation abroad.


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