Friday, October 08, 2004

Gideon Levy: More dangerous than Sinai
It’s not every day you get to expose someone for being a spiteful, manipulative bastard, even if you can clearly see that that is what he is. But there is no pleasure in pointing the finger at Gideon Levy this day, because today his hateful vitriol against the Israeli establishment may have cost lives. Today we get an idea of just how dangerous Gideon Levy can be.

On 12th September 2004, Gideon levy unleashed his usual irresponsible venom, in the warm, receptive pages of Haaretz. This time he was attacking the security forces’ call to stay clear of Sinai during the holidays.

This is not the first time in the past four years that the anti-terrorism unit, with its panoply of officers, has issued similar warnings, though this time the warning is said to be "graver than usual." If Israelis decide nonetheless to spend the holiday in Sinai, as would indeed appear to be the case, it will mark the continuation of a very unusual phenomenon here: Israelis are ignoring the warnings of the defense establishment, casting doubt on its considerations and not being automatically persuaded by its rationale.


Even if the defense establishment has solid information about Sinai, the timing of its warnings is problematic, after four years of warnings in which not a hair of the tens of thousands of Israelis who went to Sinai was harmed. After all, it's always easier to frighten people, even if it's not certain that it's necessary - what's known popularly as "covering your ass." No one pays for false warnings here, not for the scare campaign about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, and nor for the warnings about Sinai.

No one pays for false warnings here, says Gideon Levy. What about paying for questioning, belittling, and even ridiculing real warnings, with dire consequences? And Gideon Levy wasn’t the only one. The media was full of it.

On the 22nd September, Juliano Mer, local actor and Palestinian activist (he’s half Jewish and half Arab), called on Israelis (Hebrew link) to travel to Sinai, and launched a paranoid (and hallucinatory, in my view) attack on the fear and panic tactics of the Israeli establishment, aimed, according to Mer, at turning Israel into one big Jewish ghetto.

Among other things, he pointed out that the warnings were not even logical.

The Bedouin in Sinai, a large percentage of whom make their living off the Israeli visitors, are the main smugglers of weapons and ammunition for the Palestinian Intifada. In many cases they smuggle raw material into the territories that the Palestinians use for their economy. Can anyone imagine that the Palestinians or any other factor would harm the delicate texture of the relationship with the Bedouin, or arouse the anger of the Egyptians, who take an important part today in the settlement of differences between the different resistance organizations?

What can I say? Not very bright this guy.

Juliano Mer is actually regarded as a bit of a nut. He’s been arrested a few times for beating people up, most notably, his leading lady, in a play in which he was starring, a few years ago, in Haifa.

The same antiquated 19th century colonialist ideology that negated the (Jewish) exile (= the Jewish Diaspora – IJ), that negated the reality in Palestine and saw it as a ‘Land without a people’, that negated the Arabness of some of the Jews – is returning again and wants to ruin our holiday in Sinai. So, Ladies and Gentlemen: Go to Sinai, and Paris, and Turkey. Don’t let them ruin your holidays. The Palestinians are under complete closure anyway and I presume they will stay that way until the Zionism sees them as a free people in their country. Or maybe the fear sown by the security establishment will serve as a boomerang and persuade many to give up the dream of ‘The Great Ghetto’.

At least 26 dead, more than 160 wounded, a further 20 feared buried under the rubble.

Update: Alisa thinks I'm exaggerating the influence of Gideon Levy and the rest of the Media on Israelis. She's probably right in this case. No one would really have decided if to go to Sinai based on Levy's recommendation, certainly not bsed on that of the unstable Juliano Mer. But I believe there is a cumulative effect of the hateful, manipulative way that Gideon Levy and his ilk write what they write, that is poisonous and harmful, and it does have a detrimental effect on society in Israel, and on the ability of the people to think clearly about what we face. I think that is dangerous.