Has anyone in Israel asked how Gideon Levy got it all so very wrong?

Letter sent to Haaretz following columnist Gideon Levy’s article entitled “Has anyone in Israel asked why the Swedes hate us?”

Response to Gideon Levy, Haaretz:

Has anyone in Israel asked how Gideon Levy got it all so very wrong?
By Ilya Meyer, Sweden

Gideon Levy asks “Has anyone in Israel asked why the Swedes hate us?” His article is a textbook example of how journalists sometimes get just about everything wrong.

Levy presupposes everyone’s incompetence. He explains that “(Swedish tennis player) Johansson and his angry fans saw real pictures from Gaza; (Israeli tennis player) Ram and his complacent fans never did.” It never occurred to Levy that perhaps Andy Ram and his fans actually pay their Internet subscriptions and were able to see exactly the same images from the Gaza Strip as everyone else in the world was able to see. The arrogance of assumption apparently knows no bounds.

I do not know if Levy spoke to Ram, and I do not know how much Levy understands about Sweden – the psyche, the politics, the demographic construct and the language. I did speak to Ram, I have lived in Sweden for 25 years and I am fluent in Swedish – both the nation and the language.

Like all Israelis, Andy Ram knew what was happening in Gaza. Apparently unlike Gideon Levy, Ram also knew what pre-empted Israel’s response: 2920 days of merciless missile barrages from Gaza into civilian communities in southern Israel. I’ll stick my neck out here and make an assumption: Gideon Levy does not live in Sderot. Let me stick my neck out further and hazard a guess that Levy lives in or very near Tel Aviv. Well out of the reach of the 10,000 missiles with which Gazans have pounded southern Israel. Levy quite rightly feels very strongly on behalf of the Palestinian Arab civilian casualties. Every civilian casualty anywhere signifies the utter failure of mature human beings to resolve their differences responsibly.

But Gideon Levy suggests it is most important to protect civilian Palestinian Arabs from the consequences of their own choices after they freely elect a government openly dedicated to war on Israel’s civilian population. Levy puts a higher premium on the lives of a neighbor at war with his own country, than on the lives of his own fellow-citizens. In a time of war – which is how Hamas constantly defines its relations with Israel – that is high treason.

Levy makes sweeping statements without any basis in fact. While Gideon Levy was in his apartment in Tel Aviv, far from the Islamist violence in Sderot and Malmö, I was at the tennis match in Malmö, dodging missiles and trying not to get lynched. I interviewed players, officials, police officers, civilian security staff, passersby, fans of both the Israeli and the Swedish teams. Not one single interviewee suggested that the melee in Malmö had anything to do with Israel’s actions in Gaza, opining instead that it had everything to do with a determined Swedish extremist Left-wing political drive to demonize Israel.

Here is what Malmö in Sweden is really like, in the eyes of the city’s police oficers and its hard-pressed ambulance and fire rescue services.

Levy suggests that “the Swedes hate us”. I have news for Levy and for Haaretz’s readers. They don’t. Swedes by and large admire Israel. They also occasionally criticize Israel. On occasion they also criticize Britain over her handling of Ireland, France over her treatment of former colonies, the USA over her policies in the Middle East, Australia over her sometimes staunch refusal to allow in more refugees. They very often criticize their own country, Sweden, for all sorts of issues ranging from high taxation and an increasingly burdened health-care system, to the failure of immigration, asylum and integration policies.

Having said that, the small yet vocal and violent minority of Swedes who have kidnapped the media and taken over the public discourse do not criticize Russia over its decimation of Chechnya, China over its rape of Tibet, Myanmar over the disgraceful treatment of its own citizens, Zimbabwe over its treatment of political rivals, Sudan and Congo over the genocide taking place with official sanction. This vocal and violent minority do not demand the destruction of any of these countries. That is a demand they reserve solely for Israel.

In Sweden, western democracies receive harsh criticism because it is safe to criticize them, while dictatorships rarely merit a attention. This is because, over the years, a small but highly motivated cadre of media-savvy extremist Left-wingers have stormed the Swedish media scene and taken it hostage through infiltration, indoctrination and subjugation.

Unlike Gideon Levy, I was in Malmö. I heard the 7000-strong crowd of mostly Muslim rioters waving Hamas banners while chanting “Khaiber, Khaiber ya yahud, ya’ish Muhammad saufa ya‘ud” (which roughly translates into Khaiber, Khaiber, Oh Jews, Mohammed’s army will return to finish you off) – a blood-curdling racist battle-cry recalling the Muslim slaughter of Jews about 1300 years ago in the oasis of Khaiber in the Arabian peninsula for their refusal to convert to Islam. The marchers were led by leaders and other prominent figures of the Socialist (nee Communist) Party, the Labour Party and the Green Party. And yes, Gideon Levy is right, they were Swedes.

From Sweden on the weekend of 7-8 March 2009 when the slaughter of Jews was being celebrated on the streets of Malmö:

And yet no, they weren’t Swedes. Most people in this country do not go around threatening the slaughter of their fellow-citizens. “The Swedes” most emphatically do not hate Jews or Israelis. Only some Swedes do: those on the extreme Left and their staunch supporters among the recent extremist Islamist imports to this country.

While marching under a Hamas banner, Swedish Socialist Party leader Lars Ohly wears a keffiyah depicting all of Israel replaced by a single Islamic state called Palestine.

Of course, it would take a knowledgeable eye to discern these nuances. Not always easy when commenting on northern Scandinavia while sitting in a trendy café on a Tel Aviv beachfront.

Has anyone in Israel asked how Gideon Levy got it all so very wrong?

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