Addicted To Occupation

By Gideon Levy

Levy: Israel is in a "coma" and needs outside help to get over its addiction to the occupation

Video Posted November 16, 2009

More at The Real News


LIA TARACHANSKY, PRODUCER, TRNN: Gideon Levy is one of the most prominent Israeli journalists working with the daily newspaper Haaretz since the early '80s. Previously, he served as an aide to then-leader of the Labor Party, Shimon Perez. His column Twilight Zone appears weekly in the Tel Aviv-based paper Haaretz, where The Real News spoke to him about Israel's occupation and the US-Israel relations.

GIDEON LEVY, COLUMNIST, HAARETZ NEWSPAPER: I think that Israel needs an adult who will save it from its own addiction to the occupation. It needs a guide who'd push or lead or any other way to take us out from the impossible situation that we are stuck in. And therefore I think that this balance of power, this really twisted relationship between the United States and Israel, which is unprecedented—there's no country in the world that reacts like Israel vis--vis the United States vis--vis independence from the United States—I think that this is not a healthy pattern. Israel is addicted to the occupation because it benefits a lot from the occupation economically and politically, and above all because it doesn't pay any price for the occupation. Israelis are living wonderfully, especially in the last years. They're having wonderful life, even quite secure life most of the times, and there is no reason to change the status quo from the point of view of Israel. It's very convenient. There is a total separation between Israel and its occupation. Most of the Israelis have no idea what's going on there, don't also care about what's going on there, have never been there, most of the Israelis. And why should they bother? The occupation will continue. The problem is that to put an end to the occupation, you need a lot of courage, and we lack leaders with courage. So, you know, we continue with it as if nothing is happening. Throughout the decades that I am following the Middle East, Israel, the United States, you could see ups and downs. Basically, those presidents who were called "friendly to Israel" were the worst for Israel, and the worst of all was George W. Bush, because in his spirit Israel really had the full liberty to do whatever it wants—settlements, two wars, assassinations. Nothing. There were other administrations who restricted Israel, and from my point of view those were the real friendly administrations to Israel. So it's going in ups and downs. I think now it got really to a situation in which something has to be changed. I think it's a combination of a very, very powerful Jewish lobby which, in spite of all the predictions, is still as powerful as it used to be; quite a powerful and meaningful Christian lobby in the United States; and a very manipulative Israel, who can manipulate Europe, and manipulates the whole world in many ways, and manipulates the States. The Jewish lobby's pushing for something that in its view is friendship, is caring about Israel, but basically it's the opposite. You can compare it to a drug addict. There are two ways to handle a drug addict. You can supply him with more and more money and let him buy more and more drugs, and it might be perceived as friendship, as care. This is not friendship and not care. This is what the Jewish lobby's trying to do, to supply Israel automatically and blindly with anything it's doing, without thinking two steps ahead, without thinking what we'll be hearing one decade or two decades, when the Palestinians will be a majority between the river and the ocean. The other way is to send a drug addict to a rehabilitation center. This is many times very painful. It creates a lot of suffer. But this is a real friendship, to offer a real solution, to offer real healing. Israel needs this way. The Jewish lobby is offering the first way.

TARACHANSKY: The pro-Israel lobby in the US is changing, however, with the first J Street conference being held at the end of October. Presenting itself as the alternative to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, J Street attracted nearly 1,500 participants at its Washington gathering.

LEVY: I know there is a change in the Jewish community in the United States, but it's too little and too late. Still the conservative establishment, the conservative Jewish establishment, is so powerful, and I don't see signs that it's losing its power. J Street is a wonderful initiative, very promising, but still the power of AIPAC, of Anti-Defamation League, and other organizations is still very, very strong. And I don't think it's a question of months or years that this will change dramatically. Israel is so much not willing to make peace, someone has to push Israel, and the only actor who can push Israel is The United States. This can only happen with American pressure. It will never come from inside Israel. No way. Most Israelis are passive, couldn't care less. Israel, the Israeli society, is in a situation of coma for at least ten years. No signs of any involvement in any field, not only in this field. Everyone is caring about his own life, family. You don't see any kind of collective activity except of the settlers. They are the only active part in the society. All the rest is nothing. There is no peace camp, obviously. Nothing. And I think that any leader could take it to any direction, because the Israelis couldn't care less.


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