Gideon Levy and Uncomfortable Truths

Gideon Levy


by Benjamin Kerstein Thanks to the New Ledger The political left in many countries has a long history of defending despicable acts of violence when they are committed by the right people. From Norman Mailer’s campaign to free murderer Jack Abbott, who upon release promptly went and murdered someone else, to Bernadine Dohrn’s effusive praise of Charles Manson, right up to today’s disgusting international campaign on behalf of cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, there are few crimes too vile and horrendous for the left not to defend should the perpetrator belong to the correct movement or a fetishized oppressed minority.

Israel recently saw a particularly egregious example of this in the case of Sabbar Kashur, a Palestinian convicted of raping a young woman under false pretenses. According to initial media reports, Kashur was accused because he had claimed to be Jewish and the woman would not have slept with him had she known he was an Arab.

The Israeli left immediately rushed to Kashur’s side, accusing the entirety of Israeli society of racism and denouncing its justice system as akin to Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa. Much of the foreign press quickly followed suit. But without question the most fervent defender of the convicted rapist was Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy.

The political left in many countries has a long history of defending despicable acts of violence when they are committed by the right people. From Norman Mailer’s campaign to free murderer Jack Abbott, who upon release promptly went and murdered someone else, to Bernadine Dohrn’s effusive praise of Charles Manson, right up to today’s disgusting international campaign on behalf of cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, there are few crimes too vile and horrendous for the left not to defend should the perpetrator belong to the correct movement or a fetishized oppressed minority.

Israel recently saw a particularly egregious example of this in the case of Sabbar Kashur, a Palestinian convicted of raping a young woman under false pretenses. According to initial media reports, Kashur was accused because he had claimed to be Jewish and the woman would not have slept with him had she known he was an Arab.

The Israeli left immediately rushed to Kashur’s side, accusing the entirety of Israeli society of racism and denouncing its justice system as akin to Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa. Much of the foreign press quickly followed suit. But without question the most fervent defender of the convicted rapist was Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy.

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Levy is the rough Israeli equivalent of Noam Chomsky or Gore Vidal in America. His specialty is rhetorically unhinged denunciations of everything and anything to do with Israeli society. In this case, however, he outdid himself, in more ways than one. In his column on the case, unsubtly titled in English, “He Impersonated a Human,” Levy painted a picture of Kashur as something akin to a Palestinian cross between Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ.

“Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person,” Levy wrote, the tears no doubt dripping dangerously onto his laptop, “a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian. It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel are nil.” Under such circumstances, who could forgive poor Sabbar a brief extramarital interlude? “Married and a father of two,” Levy wept, “he wanted to work in Jerusalem, his city, and maybe also have an affair or a quickie on the side. That happens too.”

Then, Levy tells us, something wonderful happened. “Two years ago he met a woman by chance.” He gave her a false Hebrew name, because no Arab could ever pick up a Jewish girl, “Nice to meet you, my name is Dudu. He claims that she came on to him, but let’s leave the details aside.” Details indeed, no need for details when such a sad tale of racism and oppression is involved. But fortunately, “Soon enough they went where they went and what happened happened, all by consent of the parties concerned.”

But then, the forces of evil descended on the innocent adulterer. “One fine day,” Levy ominously intones, “a month and a half after an afternoon quickie, he was summoned to the police on suspicion of rape.” No Arab, of course, could ever get a fair shake in the racist Israeli judicial system, and what chance did he have with a racist harlot as his accuser? “In tune with the public,” Levy wrote with his usual surety, “Kashur’s judges assumed, rightly, that the woman would not have gotten into bed with Dudu were it not for the identity he invented.” Given such circumstances, how could the world not react with horror and condemnation to such an unspeakable miscarriage of justice? “It was no coincidence,” Levy trembled, “that this verdict attracted the attention of foreign correspondents in Israel, temporary visitors who see every blemish. Yes, in German or Afrikaans this disgraceful verdict would have sounded much worse.”

Unfortunately for Levy, every single thing he wrote about the case is false. As was recently revealed in an article for the Tel Aviv paper Ha’Ir, using the original court transcripts, the naughty little idyll between poor Sabbar and his inamorata was something more like this, as recounted by Lisa Goldman,

The plaintiff, identified in the article as “B*,” was an emotionally traumatized woman in her 20s who had been raped by her father from the age of six. On the day she met Kashur, she was living in a women’s shelter. Before that, she had worked briefly as a prostitute and spent some time living on the streets. Kashur lured her into the building on Hillel Street with the claim that he worked there and wanted to show her his office; he then assaulted her and raped her, leaving her naked and bleeding – which is how the police discovered her.

B. was later hospitalized in a psychiatric institution, where the police questioned her about the rape, which led them to Kashur. During the trial, after it became apparent that B’s past, combined with her emotional state, made her a vulnerable witness, the prosecution came up with a plea bargain of rape by deception.

Goldman’s post reprints the details of the assault, which are quite frankly impossible to print in anything resembling a family publication, but it is enough to consider this final, chilling statement from the plaintiff as she recounts her violation: “Then he said that if I stay silent and I don’t resist, then it would like end faster and it wouldn’t be, like, he wouldn’t use force. I still resisted him and it was forced.”

These revelations prove that, put simply, the Israeli left, and Gideon Levy foremost among them, rushed to defend a rapist in a case about which they knew nothing and about which they cared to know nothing. It played to their prejudices about Israeli society and reinforced their hatred of their fellow citizens. They felt they knew all they needed to know. As a result, they compounded a young woman’s trauma, exonerated a monstrous criminal in the court of public opinion, and debased themselves as human beings.

Gideon Levy fancies himself a prophet, a teller of uncomfortable truths to an uncaring society. Where this has led him is frankly horrifying. Did he know the details of the case? No, but he made no attempt whatsoever to find out about them. Did he shrink from slandering a rape victim as a racist? Apparently, not for a moment. Did he shrink from condemning his entire society on the basis of almost no evidence at all? Absolutely not. Did he disgrace himself and his profession? Unquestionably. He was the leading voice of a group of leftists who, in ironically sexist fashion, defamed a victim of rape out of demented sympathy for the man who violated her. After all, these things happen.

If Levy has any professional honor left, and if Haaretz wants to salvage some measure of its integrity, then both should do the right thing, at long last. Levy should resign immediately. He should issue a written apology to the victim of this assault and allow it to be published publicly. If he does not do so, Haaretz should fire him. If he does resign, Haaretz should also issue its own apology for its coverage of the issue.

Given the current state of Israeli journalism, it is unlikely that any of these things will happen. But we may take comfort in the fact that we now know exactly how seriously to take Gideon Levy and Haaretz in the future. That is an uncomfortable truth Gideon Levy might do well to consider.

Benjamin Kerstein is Senior Writer for The New Ledger.