The Zionist Tango – Step Left, Step Right: Gideon Levy

Delivered to The Israel Lobby and American Policy 2018 conference March 2, 2018 at the National Press Club

The Israel Lobby and American Policy conference was solely sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). This is a rush transcript.

Grant Smith: I’m very pleased to welcome back Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy. In his column in Haaretz, he’s called for greater Israeli empathy toward the suffering of Palestinians. He’s an extremely well-known commentator because of his willingness to take on tough issues. Consequently, he’s no stranger to very intense opposition. His columns about politics, money, how Israel’s military occupation is changing Israeli society, and U.S.-Israel relationships are very widely read, reposted and discussed around the world. Who doesn’t get in their inbox a Levy column once in a while? His vocal opposition to Israel’s last major invasion and bombing of Gaza took place against an enormous backdrop of widespread support for the military operation within the Israeli public, and so he gave voice to those who were secretly against the war but cautious about voicing such opinions openly. 

He was the recipient, with Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb, of the 2015 Olof Palme Prize for their fight against the occupation and violence. He has also received the Peace Through Media Award at the 2012 International Media Awards, the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008, the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001, the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997, and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996.

I would like to encourage everybody to send in your comment cards. We have a number of students and interns who are circulating and picking those up so that we can have a very wide-ranging set of questions for Gideon when he finishes. 

His book, The Punishment of Gaza, was published in 2012 by Verso Publishing House in London and New York. He will be available to sign some copies of that book during the reception. But now please welcome Gideon Levy.

Gideon Levy: Thank you. Thank you, Grant. I was wondering whom you were talking about. Can I stay here and not go back home? 

It’s my third time here with these wonderful people and the third time – on one hand, I feel so much at home. I know so many faces. You all get younger, I get older. You all get more energized and more devoted, and I get more and more desperate. But it puts me also on a challenge because, already on my second time here I started my speech – as far as I can recall – with a concern that I’m going to repeat myself and bore you to death, because by the end of the day I’m a singer of one song and you’ve heard it already. But the organizers were sophisticated enough this time, and they gave a very strange title to my speech which doesn’t enable me to sing my song. I have to fit to a new song, so I’ll do my…

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