Brainwashed Society

Israel is a brainwashed society which lives in denial and is totally disconnected with reality. There is no chance for any change from within.

By Gideon Levy | June 2021

Never was I so convinced that Israel and the United States are really sharing the same values after listening to all those fascinating presentations at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., because by the end of the day, we are dealing with two regimes which are very, very similar. These two regimes that have very little to do with democracy.

I was born and brought up in Tel Aviv. I used to be a very good boy, who served in the Israeli army. I did something which is even much worse than this. I worked for four years with Shimon Peres, then leader of the Israeli opposition, in the late 70s and early 80s before most of you were born. And it was only by the late 80s, when I started to travel to the occupied territories quite accidentally…as a journalist. Then I realized that the biggest drama of Israel was taking place half an hour away from our homes, in our dark backyard. It took me many years to understand how come that the society — some of you have met Israelis, they’re not monsters. In every catastrophe in the world, the Israelis are always the first ones to send rescue teams. Many Israelis would help any old lady to cross the road many times, even if she doesn’t want to cross the road. They are people who adore values. How come that this society lives for so many years with this drama in its backyard and feels so good about itself and has so little moral doubt, if at all? How is it possible that most of the Israelis — not all of them — are deeply convinced that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is the most moral army in the world? Try to tell an Israeli, and I tried it once or twice.You know what? Maybe it’s the second moral army in the world. Maybe the army of Luxembourg is more moral, I don’t know if Luxembourg has an army at all. They will be deeply offended, how can you dare? How come that when this reality is taking place so close to our homes, not over the oceans but just half an hour away from our homes, how come that we live in peace with it? That we continue with it, that there is no resistance, almost nothing?

When I first got the invitation to come here, the first words were “Israel Lobby,” I said, “Wow, they invited me. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has invited me.” And then I said, “That’s the chance of my life.”

I think that if it weren’t for the Israel Lobby, the United States would have been a better place and a more democratic place. But it’s not for me to judge American politics. And still by the end of the day, we are dealing with an enigma, because nothing can really explain it. Nothing can explain how administration after administration, legislators after legislators, are going the very same way which contradicts American interests in so many cases, which contradicts international law, human rights, moral values, you name it.

Can it be only this small group, as powerful as it is? Is it the full explanation? I doubt it, but that’s for you to decide, not for us in Israel. But for us is Israel — or at least for me — it is very clear.

Think about a relative of yours or a friend of yours who is, God forbid, a drug addict. There are two ways to deal with him. One is to supply him with money, and he will go and buy more drugs. He will be very grateful to you. He will appreciate you. He will tell you, you love me. You are my friend. You are my best friend. The other way is to send him to a rehabilitation centre. He will be so mad at you. But what is real care, and what is real love, and what is real friendship? And does anyone in this hall have the slightest doubt that Israel is occupation-addicted?

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Gideon Levy is a globally known Israeli journalist and is a columnist for Haaretz, the leading newspaper of Israel. He is also a member of the newspaper’s editorial board.

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