Israel journalist: ‘The deal of the century is the joke of century’

Journalist at Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Gideon Levy poses in his home on August 12, 2014 in the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv. [GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images]

Journalist at Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Gideon Levy poses in his home on 12 August, 2014 in the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv

By  Hassina Mechaï

The voice is clear, a slight Hebrew accent can be detected when Gideon Levy speaks English. He is precise and concise, showing off maybe some “chutzpah”, but his way of saying things is direct. Does this make Gideon Levy annoying? Certainly not. On the contrary, kindly and patiently he explains what is at stake here.

Some call Gideon Levy Israel’s conscience, others would rather insult him. Levy is a whistleblower. He would probably hate to be described as such. He is a journalist, and now a columnist at Israeli English daily Haaretz. He is also a board member there. Every week, his columns contradict the nationalist and religious ideology of those in power.

The most hated man in Israel

Levy has the distinct honour of having been considered by the authorities as a “threat” to the country’s security. What did he do to stir up such anger? Almost every week for three decades he visited the occupied territories and described what he saw there. Even though he has not been able to go to Gaza since 2006 (Israeli law prevents any Israeli from entering the Strip), he was able to highlight the killing of Palestinians. His book, “The punishment of Gaza“, earned him the nickname “Hamas propagandist” by far-right nationalists. His work led renowned journalist Robert Fisk to ask: “Is he the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic.”

His goal is simple; rehumanising the Palestinians when everything is being done to dehumanise them, he explains. From the occupation to the slow suffocation of their culture, dispossession, demolition, erasing their names, their villages, their society… Levy’s columns speak of daily struggles, give details about people’s stories, name them and give them back their faces, ages and deaths. This includes the story of a Bedouin woman who, in 1986, was forced to give birth at an Israeli checkpoint. Her newborn died because she could not reach hospital in time and had to walk the two kilometres alone with the baby in her arms.

He remains surprised, he says, by the average Israeli’s ignorance of a reality that often takes place a few minutes away from home. Israeli society “is living in denial, in lies. But totally consciously. People choose to live like this,” he tells MEMO.

“Israeli society is a very aggressive society. But you can’t generalise this. There are easy times and there are hard ones, when there is a war for example. But I still write about Gaza and its uprising. I wrote that what is happening in Gaza is the uprising of the Gaza ghetto. People became very aggressive.” This reference to the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War brings to mind a symbolic part of the Israeli “historiography”. “That, might upset people, but I still have total freedom of speech; in my newspaper but not only there. Also on TV. It’s not pleasant every time but I can’t say that they’re trying to shut my mouth.”

Shadow theatre

His years in the media have allowed him to understand Israeli society and the officials that govern it. The latest Israeli elections, which saw incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-elected, are just the latest events which have stirred controversy, not least because of the numerous corruption cases in which Netanyahu is entangled.

In spite of this, his win was no surprise to Levy. “He created this situation in which people believe there is no alternative to him. He rules mainly by spreading fear. But he spreads fear and presents himself as the only one who can protect people. He’s a very talented politician with a very good rhetoric.”

He has also created a situation in which many people believe that these corruption charges are false and that he is simply innocent, he is a victim, and they identify with him.

“Gantz was not a real challenger and he will disappear from the political stage very quickly, I think. But many people voted for him. In fact, they didn’t vote for Gantz but they voted against Netanyahu. There’s people who actually want Netanyahu out,” he adds.

But both men are the same, he continues. “After the operation in Gaza, Gantz said the same things as Netanyahu. When it comes to the major issues, like the occupation, there is not much difference between the two of them.”

OPINION: The Israeli Elections, reading the Significance and Repercussions

Netanyahu’s international connections worry Levy, as do his friendships with right-wing governments in Brazil, the US and Hungary.

“Netanyahu can be friends only with those people. Because nationalists and neo-fascists find common language with other fascists… He can’t really dwell on who is anti-Semitic or not, because at the end of the day, what matters is to maintain the occupation. It justifies everything in his eyes.”

Palestinians stage a protest against the 'Deal of the Century', planned by US President Donald Trump to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on 2 July 2018 [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

The deal of the century: a joke

It is these “friends” that are supporting Israel in peace agreements and annulling previous deals including those which discuss a two-state solution for the Palestine-Israel conflict. Netanyahu, Levy says, “doesn’t speak about it anymore”. “Even when he spoke about it, it was very easy for him because he knew nothing will come out of it. It was the best way to maintain the status quo without doing anything.”

The two-state solution is dead. It’s dead since there are so many settlers and they created an irreversible situation. We have now almost 700,000 settlers and nobody will evacuate them and nobody will ever intend to evacuate them. Without an evacuation, there is no Palestinian state; it’s a joke.

The US’ latest peace plan – dubbed the “deal of the century” – is due to be unveiled in June after the Muslim month of fasting comes to an end. This, Levy says, is the “joke of the century”.

“It will just give Israel more years to maintain the occupation and to carry on its crimes. Nobody can take this seriously. It comes from Trump and [his son-in-law and advisor] Kushner, who can take it seriously?… It can’t be serious because it’s not fair. Those people are totally one-sided. How can you even consider listening to them when they so clearly stand with only one side and they are so aggressive towards the other side? What kind of mediators can they be?” he adds.

Trump's Deal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Even the UN declaration that the besieged Gaza Strip will be “uninhabitable” by 2020 cannot save Palestinians there, Levy explains. “It’s not a war. It’s a terrible prison. From time to time, the prisoners are trying to resist, to protest. But the guards hit back harshly. And they stay silent for a few months but again they try to break the cage. It will continue to be like this forever.”

“There is no plan for Gaza because nobody cares. Even Europe doesn’t care much. I’m not even mentioning the US. Everyone became quiet and unmoved. Until the catastrophe comes. But as long as it’s not here, nobody cares.”

OPINION: A common Enemy, why Israel is embracing fascism in Europe

Israel against Jews

The occupation led Levy to vote for the Arab-Israeli parties in the last election, he explains this is “because for me it’s hard to vote for any Zionist party. I cannot identify myself anymore with any Zionist list.”

“I’m not anti-Zionist,” he explains, “Post Zionist would be the right definition. I just realised that Zionism completed its purpose; now it’s about creating a democracy, nothing else but a democracy. The ‘all equal’ rights. I don’t see another solution but a one-state solution.”

OPINION: ‘Web of Weirdness’, US and Israeli co-dependent relationship is not just about money

The debate about Israel’s occupation and what solutions there are to it, has led to accusations of “anti-Semitism”, Levy says.

It paralyses Europe, because nobody wants to be labelled an anti-Semitic. And therefore, they don’t talk about international laws and how they are violated by the illegal occupation. They keep apologising for being anti-Semitic, totally dismissing the crimes perpetrated by the occupation forces.

“There is anti-Semitism in the world but way less than what Israel claims,” he explains. “People in Europe, people with conscience should say we have the full right, more, it’s our duty, to criticise the occupation, to be anti-Zionist.”

READ: Macron’s anti-Zionism definition draws criticism

Is there hope for change stemming from the Jewish diaspora, especially those in America? “There are changes sure, but let’s not exaggerate. Still, the Jewish establishment is supporting Israel blindly, automatically supporting the occupation and Netanyahu. Yes, there is a new generation and a new camp there, which is very promising because they are very liberal. But there is a long way to go, because for most of them, standing against Israel is something they can’t do yet. But this movement goes hand in hand with changes in the [US’] Democratic party. This is even more promising because it is the first time ever that Netanyahu has been called a racist. We’ve never heard that before.”

READ: Trump ‘good for Israel, bad for Jews’: Israel historian

(Source / 25.05.2019)

IOF tortures Palestinian child near Jenin

JENIN, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli occupation soldiers beat up a 15-year-old Palestinian child in Seelat al-Harithiya village to the west of Jenin at dawn Friday.

Father of the child Amjad Yusuf Ziyud said his son was walking on the village’s main street when the soldiers sprayed pepper in his face and beat him up, adding that the child was rushed to the Jenin government hospital for treatment.

Israeli troops have been deployed in large numbers recently in the vicinity of villages in western Jenin.

(Source / 25.05.2019)

Dozens of Palestinians injured, including medics and journalist in Gaza march

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Medical teams treated dozens of different cases of direct gas and rubber bullets, including a volunteer paramedic and a journalist, the health ministry said.

On Friday, a paramedic was wounded by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli occupation forces east of Khan Younis on the 59th anniversary of the return march and the siege of the eastern Gaza Strip.

Thousands of people gathered in the Gaza Strip to participate in the “Grand Compassionate and Takaful” Friday as part of the Greater Return March, which has been going on since 30 March last year on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip.

The Commission called on the citizens to go to the return camps in the eastern Gaza Strip, stressing the peaceful march and its mass and its continuation to achieve its goals, which is to protect our right to return to Palestine and to break the unjust siege on Gaza and emphasize the freedom of Gaza and its right to life in security and peace.

The return marches committee announced the cancellation of protests last Friday near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel to “ease” the citizens in the month of Ramadan.

(Source / 25.05.2019)

Dit zijn de laatste tien!

Vandaag, zaterdag 25 mei, breken met zonsondergang de laatste tien nachten van de Ramadan aan. Want vandaag is de twintigste dag van de maand Ramadan en na zonsondergang breekt de 21e nacht aan. De 21e nacht is de eerste nacht van de laatste tien nachten!

Deze tien nachten hebben een grote verdienste bij Allah de meest Verhevene. Het zijn de beste nachten van het jaar!

Het was de gewoonte van onze nobele profeet vrede zij met hem om de laatste tien dagen, en met name de nachten, van deze gezegende maand extra goed te benutten. 
‘Aicha radia Allaho ‘anhaa overlevert dat de profeet vrede zij met hem zich in de laatste tien dagen van de Ramadan meer inspande voor de aanbidding dan in de overige dagen. [Sahih Moslim]
Hij was gewoon om op te blijven voor de aanbidding wanneer de laatste tien nachten aanbraken en maakte zijn vrouwen wakker zodat ook zij deze gezegende nachten in aanbidding doorbrachten.  
In deze laatste tien dagen bevindt zich een nacht die beter is dan duizend maanden! Deze nacht is Lailatoelqadr. Allah zegt: 
Voorwaar, Wij hebben hem (de Koran) neergezonden in de Waardevolle nacht (Lailatoelqadr). En wat doet jullie weten wat de Waardevolle Nacht is? De Waardevolle nacht is beter dan duizend maanden. [97:1-3]
Het is niet bekend op welke dag deze gezegende nacht valt. Dit motiveert de moslim om iedere nacht van de laatste tien dagen goed te benutten. Wel is de kans groter in de oneven nachten en het grootst in de 27e nacht. Maar dat is niet zeker, zoals sommigen dat denken.

De nacht breekt islamitisch gezien aan met zonsondergang en niet, zoals we dat gewend zijn, na twaalven. 

De profeet vrede zij met hem zei: “Wie Lailatoelqadr staat (in gebed), diens voorgaande zonden worden vergeven.” [Bukhari]
Ontneem jezelf deze grote beloning niet door een Taraweeh-gebed te missen in deze laatste tien nachten.
Gedenken van Allah
 ‘Aicha radia Allaho ‘anhaa vroeg de profeet vrede zij met hem: “Als ik wist welke nacht Lailatoelqadr zou zijn, wat dien ik dan te zeggen?” De profeet antwoordde: Zeg: “O Allah U bent Vergevensgezind en houdt van vergeven, vergeef mij.” [Ibn Maajah]
De smeekbede in het Arabisch:
 اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي(Allaahomma Innaka ‘Afowwon Tohibbo Al-‘afwa Fa’fo ‘Annie)

Wij dienen deze smeekbede vaak te herhalen in deze gezegende nachten in navolging van het advies van onze nobele profeet vrede zij met hem en hopend op de vergiffenis van Allah. 
Deze gezegende dagen en nachten brengen we door met het vermijden van zondes en nutteloos tijdverdrijf om vervolgens dichter tot Allah te komen met allerlei vrome daden, zoals de vijf gebeden op haar voorgeschreven tijden, vrijwillige gebeden, Taraweeh, Koran-recitatie, liefdadigheid en het veelvuldig gedenken van Allah. Ibn al-Qayyim zei:
“De beste vastenden zijn degenen die Allah het meest gedenken tijdens hun vasten.”
Andere smeekbeden waarmee de moslim Allah kan gedenken:
 سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ، سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ العَظِيم

(SubhaanAllaah Wa Bihamdih, SubhaanAllaah Al-‘adhiem)

سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ وَلَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَر

(SubhaanAllaah Walhamdolillaah Wa Laa Ilaaha Illallaah Wallaaho Akbar)

لاحَوْلَ وَلاَقُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّه

(Laa Hawla Wa Laa Qowwata Illa Billaah)

أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْه

(Astagfirollaah Wa Atoebo Ilaih)

Deze smeekbedes kan je herhalen zoveel als je wil en je hoeft daarvoor niet in staat van (rituele) reinheid te zijn. Ook de menstruerende vrouw kan dus haar tijd hiermee goed benutten.

Zo mag de menstruerende vrouw ook de Koran reciteren vanuit haar memorisatie of vanuit de moshaf, maar wel zonder direct contact te hebben met de moshaf. Ze kan de moshaf aanraken met de tussenkomst van een handschoen, doekje e.d. Of in plaats daarvan reciteert zij de Koran vanaf een scherm, zoals de smartphone, waarbij direct contact wel is toegestaan.  
Begunstigd is degene die van elk mogelijk moment gebruikmaakt om zijn Heer te gedenken. Lopend over straat, wachtend op het openbaar vervoer, liggend op de bank etc …

Beste broeders en zusters

Wellicht dat velen van ons het gevoel hebben dat ze de voorgaande dagen van de Ramadan niet hebben doorgebracht zoals het hoort en zoals Allah daar tevreden mee is. Misschien dat we fanatiek zijn begonnen en langzamerhand zijn afgezwakt …

Misschien dat we niet veel verandering tot stand hebben kunnen brengen en dat we vele goede voornemens niet waar hebben kunnen maken …

Dan is de kans om daar verandering in te brengen nu binnen handbereik. Maak een voor jezelf haalbaar programma voor deze laatste tien en wees verheugd op een mooi einde van deze gezegende maand!

Moge Allah ons allen bijstaan bij het goed benutten van deze gezegende nachten.

( / 25.05.2019)

Illegal Colonists Injure A Palestinian Shepherd, Soldiers Abduct One

25 May 11:00 AM

Several fanatic illegal Israeli colonists invaded, Saturday, Palestinian grazing lands in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, wounding one shepherd, before Israeli soldiers arrived in the area, attacked the shepherds and abducted one.

Aref Daraghma, a Palestinian human rights activist, said the illegal colonists chased several Palestinian shepherds in Khallet Hamad area.

He added that the colonists assaulted one shepherd, identified as Rabea’ Mahmoud Awwad, causing cuts and bruises.

Israeli soldiers also invaded the area during the attack, and abducted a Palestinian shepherd, identified as Bassem Mahmoud Awwad.

The soldiers did apprehend any of the illegal Israeli colonists who attacked the Palestinian shepherds.

(Source / 25.05.2019)

Another Company Withdraws From Israeli Light Rail Project

25 May 3:50 AM

Alstom, a French transport company, has announced their withdrawal from an Israeli light-rail project that is being used to annex illegal Israeli settlements into Jerusalem, citing potentially harmful human rights violations, and French law.

According to activists campaigning against the light-rail line, Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, rapid development of settlements, and forced transfers of its Palestinian population, constitutes a plethora of international law violations.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with the official transfer of the United States’ embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 14 May 2018, has further aggravated the situation in Jerusalem.

The existing light rail line was build on illegally seized Palestinian land, and the planned expansion is meant to connect West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements constructed on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, in violation of international law.

According to the Worldwide Movement For Human Rights (FIDH), on June 13, 2018, eight organizations (L’Association France Palestine Solidarité, CFDT, CGT, FIDH, Al-Haq, LDH, l’Union Syndicale Solidaires and the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine) published a report called ”Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem: Three French Companies Involved in Light Rail Construction”, urging French companies to withdraw from the project.

The withdrawal of Systra, a joint subsidiary of SNCF and RATP, was announced on June 20, 2018, and now Alstom has announced its withdrawal from the project as well.

The number of candidates for the second phase of the Jerusalem light rail project, has decreased from seven to two.

FIDH called on the remaining businesses to follow suit, to show their refusal to endorse Israeli’s continued annexation of Palestinian territories by force, settlement expansion, or other violations of international law.

One French company, Egis, a subsidiary of the publicly funded company, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), remains involved in the Jerusalem light rail project.

In the name of corporate ethics, for which no exception should be made, rights groups urgently called upon both the French government and the senior management of CDC to demand the immediate withdrawal of Egis from the project.

After the withdrawal of Alstom, which activists say is an important win, the FIDH said it is crucial that the French government and all other European governments take a clear stance against companies’ involvement in the Israeli policies of annexation, colonization, and occupation.

(Source / 25.05.2019)

Army Injures Sixteen Palestinians In Gaza

25 May 7:32 AM

The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, sixteen Palestinians during the Great Return March processions, ongoing for the 59th week, in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said the injuries varied between rubber-coated steel bullets and gas inhalation, including some who were shot with high-velocity gas bombs.

It added that a journalist, and a female medic volunteer, were among the injured Palestinians.

All the wounded Palestinians received the needed treatment in make-shift clinics, without the needed to move them to hospitals.

Israeli soldiers have killed 307 Palestinians, including medics and journalists, and injured more than 29000, since the Great Return March procession started in the Gaza Strip, on Palestinian land Day, March 30th, 2018.

(Source / 25.05.2019)