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Gideon Levy: Americans "Are Supporting the First Signs of Fascism in Israel"

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Reprinted from Alternet


Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy talks to journalist Max Blumenthal about how the Israeli occupation has poisoned not only the region but much of the world, and how BDS might be the last standing hope to dismantle it.

I'm Max Blumenthal, for the Real News. We're here at the National Press Club, at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Conference, examining whether the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel is good for America. And I'm here with Gideon Levy. Gideon Levy was the former spokesman for Shimon Peres, former Israeli president, and is now one of the most outspoken journalists in Israel, someone who I would say is a true dissident in Israeli society, and the voice of the voiceless in Israel. People, Israelis who are resisting occupation and resisting apartheid. And we're going to talk to Gideon not only about the U.S. and Israeli special relationship, but also about what's happening in Israeli society right now.

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Gideon, you spoke earlier today, and you said that if any -- if you could show any American visiting the Holy Land anything, you would first take them to Hebron. And I think you're referring to H2, the section of the city that is honeycombed with very violent, radical settlers, but is still Palestinian. Why would you show them that area? There's so much to see.

Watch: Gideon Levy and Max Blumenthal discuss the future of Israel-America relations. Full transcript below.

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GIDEON LEVY: I would start there because there you get it in a nutshell. There is no other place where you can see the Israeli policy, the Israeli apartheid in the West Bank, in such crystal clear colors. Roads are just separated for Jews and for Palestinians. An empty town, because all the Palestinian inhabitants head to run away. I mean, the settlers terrorized them so much, until most of them, there really remained only those who have no place to go. And you see the tyranny of the settlers, their brutality. They are the most extreme settlers and they are, part of them should be questioned by psychiatrists. I mean, really. And only a very small piece of land. And that's the way it could have -- and it will look, one day -- if this occupation will continue. So you get it in a nutshell.

BLUMENTHAL: Yeah, yeah. It's like a microcosm of the whole occupation.

LEVY: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I know no one who, any honest person, who had been ever there and wasn't shocked.

BLUMENTHAL: And you know, I was on [Shuhata] street, standing around talking to the soldiers. And we were talking about a few hundred settlers guarded by hundreds and hundreds of soldiers, who also are very violent with the local Palestinian population. I'm standing there, I'm filming, and a settler woman walks by, and she's just staring at me. And I just go "Yalla" ... you know, get out of here. And she goes, what do you mean, yalla? What are you talking about? And she has a Brooklyn accent. And that was incredible to me. I think -- what you would hear there are New York accents in the middle of Hebron. So how do you think the U.S. has helped create that situation in Hebron?

LEVY: The U.S. is the big financer of the Zionist project and the big financer of the settlement project. Without the U.S. there is no occupation. And the U.S. carries responsibility for any of Israel's deeds and crimes, because without the U.S. Israel couldn't do it, very clearly.

BLUMENTHAL: The U.S. claims that Israel is its ally in the region. That Israel actually serves a geostrategic purpose. Do you see it that way? Do you think Israel's actually, and under Israel -- especially under Netanyahu, really cares what the U.S. thinks?

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LEVY: First of all, many times, if one is watching the relations between Israel and the United States, comes up the question of who is the superpower? Is it Israel or who is the United States? Who dictates to whom? Who blackmails whom? And many times you get the impression that Israel is blackmailing the United States. And here I come and I ask myself, why? It's an enigma for me. How come that Israel is so powerful? And the other question one should ask himself is what those interests serve in terms of American, either interest or values. Occupation is American values? Occupation serves the American interest? Doesn't America see that it pays a hell of a price for this automatic and blind support of Israel and of the occupation project? Is it reasonable that in the 21st century, the United States will finance an apartheid regime in the occupied territories? All those questions should be raised, but I'm not sure anyone has an answer.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, we don't have anyone in our media here, in our mainstream media, who raises them. And you at least are at Haaretz, you have a column. Talk about your own experiences raising these issues, raising the uncomfortable and really disturbing issues of occupation, apartheid, and how it's creeping back into Jewish Israeli society? How's that affected you over the past years, especially since Netanyahu's been in power?

LEVY: The recent years, he became less and less pleasant, and maybe even less and less secure. As you might know, there was a certain time during the last war in Gaza in which I even had to be accompanied by bodyguards. It's to be, let's leave alone me, because I'm just one individual. What really matters is that to speak for consciousness, to speak for morality, to speak for maintaining the international law, is perceived in Israel as treason. Not less than this. The worst curse that you can hear today is you are a leftist. It's a curse in Israel. This atmosphere, violent, aggressive, and lacking any kind of tolerance, is above all dangerous for the future of Israel.

BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. Where do you see the future going? You have a culture minister, Miri Regev, who is demanding a kind of loyalty oath from artists. Actually, an artist friend of mine, Natali Vaxberg Cohen, has been jailed, or indicted, for her art. In the school system you're seeing very strong imposition of religious nationalist indoctrination, militarism. The youth in polls seem to be more racist than their parents and grandparents. We're talking about the Jewish Israeli youth. And it doesn't seem like the occupation is coming to an end. It actually seems like a future component of Israel. So where do you, where do you see it going over the next five or 10 years, and how long can you hold on?

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Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a writing fellow for the Nation Institute. His book, (more...)
 

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