Archive for Gideon Levy

Israel-Sweden row over media report

Posted in History, IDF, International community, Israel, Palestine, Pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on 24/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 24 August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Bildt, who is due to visit Israel, has said he is not going to apologise for the controversial article [EPA]

A diplomatic row between Sweden and Israel has intensified, with Israeli politicians urging Stockholm to condemn a newspaper article they have described as “blood libel”.

In the report, published in Sweden’s leading tabloid, a freelance journalist accused the Israeli army of stealing body organs from Palestinian men after killing them.

“The statements in the Swedish press were outrageous,” Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was quoted as telling his cabinet on Sunday.

“We are not expecting an apology from the Swedish government… We are expecting condemnation.”

The Swedish government has refused to apologise for the article published in Sweden’s Aftonbladet on Monday last week, saying the country’s press freedom prevents it from intervening.

Bildt visit

“If I devoted myself to correcting all the strange claims in the media, I would probably not have time to devote to very much else,” said Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister.

The controversy comes two weeks before Bildt is to visit Israel, with Stockholm currently holding the rotating EU presidency.

The Aftonbladet report said  Ghanaian’s body had been returned with a long scar

In the article, Donald Bostrom, a Swedish freelance journalist, writes about the shortage of body parts in Israel and makes references to the so-called New Jersey scandal earlier this summer which involved rabbis, illegal organ trading and money laundering.Bostrom then gives what he says is his own eyewitness account of an Israeli army raid on a Palestinian village in 1992.

He told Al Jazeera he was not anti-Semitic and insisted what he wrote was true.

“The body was taken away and the authorities made an autopsy with this young man against the will of the family,” Bostrom said.

“All those things are actually true and happened. When the military returned the body the family said, ‘We think they stole the organ of the body’ because there was an empty belly.

Medieval libels

“What I do is to refer to three things which have actually happened: the boy was shot dead, the autopsy, and the family claiming the body was emptied of organs.”

The article has sparked outrage in Israel, with scores of ministers and commentators calling it anti-Semitic and reminiscent of mediaeval libels that Jews killed Christian children for their blood.

Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli finance minister, said: “In the Middle Ages, slander was spread accusing Jews of preparing Passover matza [unleavened bread] with the blood of Christian children.

“And today it is IDF [Israeli Defence Force] soldiers who are accused of killing Palestinians to take their organs.”

Steinitz said on Sunday that the crisis would continue “as long as the Swedish government doesn’t change its attitude towards this anti-Semitic article.

“Those who do not condemn it are not welcome in Israel.”

Gideon Levy, a political analyst for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, described the dispute as “out of proportion” and an attempt by Israel to undermine Sweden’s criticism of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Journalists barred

“I think this is a very good example of very bad journalism and very bad diplomacy,” he told Al Jazeera on Monday.

“The story was published without any kind of factual grounds and it was very easy to deny it and very hard to prove it.”

Daniel Seaman, the head of the Israeli government press office, said on Sunday he would not give accreditation to two of the newspaper’s reporters planning to visit the Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for Israel’s interior ministry said it was freezing the issue of entry visas to Swedish journalists, though those already working in the country would not be affected for now.

The newspaper commented on its story on Sunday, acknowledging that it had no proof of any organ theft but argued that the story deserved publication because of the issues it raised.

Disposable justice

Posted in Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 04/04/2009 by 3071km

This is an interesting article from Gideon Levy published in Haaretz 0n 02/04/09 on the (inexistent) rule of law in Israel.

Here you have some excerpts:

Not that anything different could have been expected. From the day the military advocate general announced that unlike in the first intifada, not every killing in the territories would be investigated, battle ethics were condemned. When the killing of 4,747 Palestinians in the second intifada, 942 of them women and children, according to B’Tselem, is followed by 30 indictments, five convictions and only one prison sentence of any considerable length, the IDF is sending a clear message: The killing of Palestinian civilians is of no concern to the military justice system.

The message to soldiers is just as clear: Kill as much as you please, no wrong will come to you, the army won’t even bother to look into it. Now, after 1,300 deaths in Gaza, the military advocate general confirmed this policy. Any adherent of the rule of law in Israel should have been shocked by this rash decision, but our army of lawyers is concerned with other things.

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Israel cannot be considered a country of the rule of law if its backyard is occupied by this grotesque show called the military justice system. Only when it is segregated from the IDF and a civil justice system investigates the army will we know we have a legal army and a legal state. Until then, all we can do is look to The Hague.

Gideon Levy – Everyone agrees: War in Gaza was a failure

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, International community, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, War crimes with tags on 12/03/2009 by 3071km

Written by: Gideon Levy

Date published: 12th March 2009

Source: Hareetz

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Suddenly we’re all in consensus: The recent war in Gaza was a failure. The bon ton now is to list its flaws. Flip-floppers say its “achievements” were squandered; leftists say the war “should never have started” and rightists will say the war “should have lasted longer.” But on this they all agree: It was a blunder.

Because we consider the war to have been almost cost-free, with just 13 Israeli dead, it will be the first in 36 years without a Commission of Inquiry formed in its wake.

Of course, the war’s blunder was just as serious as its predecessors, but because we did more killing than being killed, because we caused more damage than we sustained, there’s nothing deemed worthy of investigation.

It was all in vain: no progress made, no goal achieved, nothing. Deterrence wasn’t reestablished, arms smuggling into Gaza was not stopped, Hamas was not weakened and abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was not freed. On these facts we all agree.

Moreover, we paid a huge price: Hamas is stronger, the hurt Palestinian people are even more hateful toward us, and Israel is viewed as a pariah in world public opinion, with rioting on a basketball court in Ankara where an Israeli team played and the banning of spectators from Israel’s Davis Cup tennis encounter with Sweden in Malmo, as the last of the rogue states.

Nobody has to answer for all this, neither the politicians who launched this crazy war nor the army commanders who were their contractors. No one will be impeached, never mind tried in court. Israel’s aggressive and violent war machine won’t even suffer a tiny dent.

And what of the cheerleaders who sat on the sidelines of this hellish nightmare? Perhaps we should at least hold them accountable? They sat in their television studios and at their newspaper desks. Oh, how the commentators were excited and stirred excitement. They goaded and urged, pushed and applied pressure, begging for more and more war. For months they had been clamoring for their “wide-scale operation,” their hearts’ desire. When their wish came true they cheered in support and whistled in excitement.

Do not take their actions lightly. They could have had an immense influence over the feeble politicians and graying officers. “Strike out at them,” their baritone voices echoed from one part of the country to the other. They asserted it was a just and successful war without peer. They covered the brilliant military maneuvers with gusto, iniquitously hid the horrors, presented an unrestrained offensive against a non-existent enemy as a two-sided war, described troops’ unchallenged advances as real combat and a military maneuver carried out on the back of a helpless population as a success.

They appeared at their studios with their mouths still covered with foam left over from their previous successful horror show, the Second Lebanon War. The retired generals and Tarzan commentators, whose coverage of the war in Lebanon was an abominable failure, recycled the same cliches and propaganda dictates. No one considered replacing them after their previous failure. They learned nothing and forgot nothing, and the vast majority of us nodded thoughtlessly at their words, as though they came from above.

The deja vu is striking: Again, just like after the Second Lebanon War, they suddenly became the war’s biggest critics, only after it already ended – a matter of timing.

Showing no remorse and much vanity, they now shamelessly admit that the war whose praises they sang has failed. Why did it fail? Because we didn’t kill enough people, they explain. If we would have given it a little push and killed 200 more children or massacred 500 more women, then we would have achieved victory.

None of them are asked what would have happened had the war continued. Would Shalit have been freed? Would Hamas have waved the white flag? Would the Palestinian people have joined the Zionist movement?

Now, get ready for the next treat. They’ve already begun to clamor for a new war in Gaza or Lebanon, whichever comes first. When they get what they ask for they will return to their studios. In the beginning they will offer their support for the war, and then come out against it.

No one will hold them accountable for their vile acts, and there will be nothing new under the sun.