Copy of an open letter to Gideon Levy
People in glass houses …
Dear Gideon Levy
Friday, October 12, 2012 Tishrei 26, 5773
I am writing to you in your capacity as a regular esteemed Haaretz columnist and member of the newspaper''s editorial board.
I empathize completely with your anguish on reading that your late father of blessed memory had been maligned in an online story alleging that he had cooperated with the Nazis. ("In a Web of lies, the newspaper must live" Haaretz Oct.11, 2012)
However your assertion that no printed newspaper would publish that type of unsubstantiated malicious slander is unfortunately untrue as proven by the many unsubstantiated damaging articles about Israel that are regularly published in your own newspaper, Haaretz, many of them authored by you.
I echo your question "What can be done about slander of this type? How does one start to refute a revolting lie which in another second will spread like wildfire among the virtual thorn fields of the Internet?" Like the story about your late father your many slanders against Israeli soldiers are eagerly grabbed by, and reproduced in, anti-Israeli media around the world. In fact you are treated as a hero by Israel-bashers as exemplified by the following headline:
While the author is correct in regarding you as heroic he is mistaken in assuming that you are hated in Israel. He completely misses the essential fact that your critical writings have been tolerated in Israel for many years and even welcomed by many who disagree with you; unmistakable proof of Israel''s open society and freedom of expression that is lacking in all our neighboring countries and even in many major countries like China and Pakistan.
Unwarranted slurs are not confined to the press. They occur equally in TV and film media. On October 9, 2012 Al Monitor which describes itself as the pulse of the Middle East published a story about a new documentary titled "Would you have sex with an Arab?" based on the story of an alleged, passionate affair between Golda Meir and a rich Arab banker.
Yolande Zauberman the filmmaker says she deliberately chose to test Israel’s liberal scene to see how progressive it really is and one may well ask how a sample of only sexually promiscuous people can be used to gauge the progressiveness of a society and why the equivalent question was not asked of Arabs.
More pressingly, one must ask why you associate yourself with a shallow documentary of this type and why you dare to make the outrageous allegation quoted in Al Monitor''s interview with the filmmaker:
"Gideon Levy who is known for his pro-peace and pro-Palestinian stance says something quite terrible in your film — that unlike in other conflicts where rape is used as a weapon, there is no case of Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian women because they have been dehumanized to such an extent that they cannot be objects of desire".
In your September 23 2010 interview, published in Huffington Post you made the defamatory accusation that Yitzhak Rabin''s peace agreement with Arafat was a scam (that is a swindle or fraudulent deal). Don''t you see the similarity between this type of baseless accusation and the defamation of your late father?
How do you justify saying to the interviewer that Netanyahu like the supposedly more left-wing alternatives, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni -- always opposed real peace talks, and even privately bragged about destroying the Oslo process?
Don''t you see the similarity between the Haaretz headline "Jews are capable of acting like neo-Nazis" (Meron Rappaport Sep.16, 2007) and the allegation that your late Dad cooperated with Nazis?
I refer to your November 12, 2006 article titled "No one is guilty in Israel" in which you RECKLESSLY alleged that nineteen inhabitants of Beit Hanun were killed with MALICE AFORETHOUGHT and that it takes considerable gall and cynicism to dare to claim that the IDF didn''t intend to kill them. On the contrary, it takes gross arrogance and prejudiced animus to reject with no basis at all, the statement by GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant that there was a problem with the battery''s targeting apparatus. Are you such an expert in artillery that you know that an error in the equipment did not result in a shell landing unintentionally in the wrong place causing collateral casualties?
I ask you to read again the letter I wrote to you on August 11 2006 in which I referred to Steve Linde''s article in which he wrote "Can you imagine how terrible the artillery troops who fired the shells at Beit Hanun yesterday must be feeling now? After serving in IDF Artillery, I can only say that this is every gunner''s nightmare scenario: killing innocent men, women and children".
In discussing mainstream media''s responsibility I ask in all sincerity how you judge the following misleading and incendiary headline and article that continues to be shown on the Haaretz web site despite the fact that responsible journalists had published that the man responsible for the film is not a Jew, nor an Israeli as early as September 12? Surely in the interests of journalistic integrity this item should carry a prominent correction as required by the British editors code of ethics which requires that "a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published" and that "A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for".
More egregiously Haaretz has published cartoons that are not only distasteful but seriously damaging. I would appreciate your comments on the few samples I reproduce below
This letter is being publicized as will the considered reply I hope to receive from you.
Note. Copies of the offending cartoons were included in the original letter to Gideon Levy but they are not reproduced here because of copyright restrictions.
One egregious example irresponsibly revitalizes the blood libel that led to massacres and pogroms, alleging that Jews use Christian blood to make matzos. The cartoon is headed "Matzot for Passover with Prof, Toaff" and depicts a Jew making matzo with a large knife on the table while his wife says "here''s the bambino" as she hands him a child for slaughter so that his blood can be used in the matzo.
The cartoon appeared when Professor Toaff published a book in which he suggested the possibility (which he subsequently withdrew) that in the Middle Ages, Ashkenazi Jews may have actually practiced ritual murder.