Gideon Levy on Israel’s choice of self-delusion

One of Israel’s true heroes:

“With the huge dramatic turmoil in the Arab world in the last few weeks . . . finally there is a new spirit in the world and in the Arab world and tyrannies will not last forever. The Israeli occupation is by far one of those tyrannies.”

So ended a talk by Gideon Levy, a columnist with the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz , which was held in Trinity College last night at which he launched his book The Punishment of Gaza.

Levy, a critic of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinian people, spoke of his own upbringing in Israel where he became a “typical product” of the Israeli education system and served in the Israeli army.

However, as a journalist in the Eighties and visiting the occupied territories, he said he realised that the real story of Israel was taking place in the country’s “black back yard” and later dedicated his life to speaking out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

He said that a “propaganda machine” had for decades systematically dehumanised the Palestinian people and led to a situation where “five million Israelis are deeply convinced today that they are right and seven billion people of the world are wrong”.

Levy said that this was partly to do with the country’s media, which had engaged in “something that is worse than censorship and that is self-censorship only to please the reader.

“The Israeli media is dehumanising the Palestinians systematically year after year, decade after decade and that is, in my view, the best explanation to this unusual phenomena in which the Israelis . . . live so much in peace with themselves.”

Levy’s talk was organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign in conjunction with the Trinity College master’s in philosophy in race, ethnicity and conflict as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2011, which runs until next Saturday.