Israeli Foreign Ministry sent ‘spy’ to report on Gideon Levy speech in Dublin

Gideon Levy writes in Haaretz:

About two weeks ago, I was invited to the Jewish Book Week in London, following the publication in English of my book “The Punishment of Gaza.” The Jewish establishment in Britain threatened to boycott the event, the organizers considered hiring security guards, and roughly 500 people, mainly middle-of-the-road Jews, filled the hall, asked questions and mainly, in their modest way, expressed great sympathy. I spoke, as I always do, against the occupation, the injustices and the damage it does to Israel and to the Palestinians, against the attacks on Israeli democracy as I have written in the hundreds of articles that have been published in Haaretz in Hebrew and in English, and as I did at the London School of Economics and Trinity University in Dublin.

As on previous occasions, a “spy” from the Israeli Embassy was sent to Trinity – this one, an Israeli student who was asked to write down what I said and convey it to the embassy. The embassy quickly dispatched a report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and the Foreign Ministry quickly leaked it to a well-known newspaper, which published only my harshest statements, without context – and there you have it: the indictment of a dissident.

One can ignore the way the embassy spies on journalists, evoking dark regimes. I would be glad to see a government representative at my lectures who was not under cover, if they have any interest. But one cannot ignore the message conveyed by such conduct – that of a witch hunt against a journalist whose opinions diverge from the party line.

Update: Original headline put Levy speech in England. Commenter spotted the error. Thanks.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 42 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. seafoid says:

    When it all falls apart will Lieberman go back to Moldova ?

    • Hostage says:

      When it all falls apart, the WZO might be able to get those same four countries to hold a reunion in San Remo to recognize “the historical connection of the Jews to Moldova” – it being clearly understood, of course, that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Moldova;-)

  2. Israel is warping into East Germany, with its very own Stasi, its massive bureaucracy which exists to classify and report on every citizen. But worse, it now patrols the world, looking for the slightest criticism so that it can vilify and smear the independent thinkers, threaten them with punitive action and howl lies at. Is there any norm of civilised behaviour that Israel doesn’t consider itself above? There is no law or convention of civil society which Israel subscribes to. They are a ‘special case’, exempt from any ethical or basic human values.

    • annie says:

      with its very own Stasi, its massive bureaucracy which exists to classify and report on every citizen

      i was thinking about the stasi just yesterday while musing the latest desperado move by the knesset. sad.

    • seafoid says:

      The uniquely Israeli blend of the Orthodox and the Russians is deadly. It’s like the Australian experience with Cane Toads.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • I bet if nobody thought of Israel as a particularly Jewish nation and it was located not in the Holy Land but somewhere in Central Asia, everybody would call it out on these communist tactics.

    • Ellen says:

      Interesting and exact parallel. It is the very same method of using the so-called Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter, or an IM. This East German system of using people throughout society — students, teachers, siblings, whomever — to report back to the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or STASI.

      Using IMs for information was a pillar of the STASI Aparatus.

      Everyone was afraid of saying anything, because you never knew who among you was an IM.

      I can imagine many Israeli’s are afraid of speaking out, and there are IMs, even if they are not a pillar of the security system ….yet. Americans inside the beltway and the major media are afraid as we do have our own STASI-land.

    • Hostage says:

      Israel is warping into East Germany

      Zionists working in the Abteilung fur Jiidische Fragen (Division of Jewish Affairs) in the German Foreign Office and Committee for the Liberation of Russian Jews gathered intelligence and conducted propaganda campaigns from the very early days of the movement. The Socialist and Communist wings had their own political intelligence and propaganda people too. They have always sown the seeds of hate and discontent against anyone who opposes them. So, the tactic is not something new that Lieberman has introduced.

    • Avi says:

      justicewillprevail March 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Israel is warping into East Germany, with its very own Stasi, its massive bureaucracy which exists to classify and report on every citizen.

      That is true to the extent that only in recent years have a few Jews in Israel started to feel the pressure of the state bearing down on them.

      Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line have always experienced this Stasi-like behavior of which you speak.

      Over the years, Israel has saturated the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon with collaborators and informants. An entire network of informants sprung from the Military Rule of 1948-1966, for example (Inside the Green Line), then later, in Lebanon and the occupied West Bank.

      The late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, spent about 20 years under house arrest due to his poetry, which Israel deemed political. So, the Shin-Bet didn’t — and does not — target a select few who are engaged in say, violent activity. It also targets intellectuals, it targets average people as you will see in the paragraphs below. Within this paradigm, any non-Jew and every non-Jew is a threat to state ‘security’. And in recent years, that paradigm has changed to include Jews who dissent from the mainstream discourse.

      In addition to files, photos and telephone conversations, the Stasi also kept airtight jars containing swabs and personal items of people whose scents they wanted to keep on record. They did so in the event they needed to use tracking dogs to locate an individual or another. And this practice was widespread to the extent that entire warehouses in East Germany were filled with these items.

      Nowadays, Israel tends to rely on technology. Thus, cell phones are tracked on a regular basis, conversations are recorded on a regular basis and detailed information on individuals’ political views is kept, as well.

      This assists the Shin-Bet, for example, in deciding whether to approve a Palestinian middle school teacher’s application to teach, whether one candidate or another in local municipal elections is ‘friendly’ to the state of Israel. Therefore, through a system of incentives, the Israeli government decides and controls the extent of Palestinian civil society development and existence.

  3. Citizen says:

    What other country has a “Stasi” service that operates with impunity throughout the Western civilized world that says it places the highest value on enforcement of free speech as the best tool for informing the voters of any real democracy?

    • Citizen says:

      1 in 6 DDR citizens were Stasi; indoctrination began in grade school as picture books designed to defend the nation. 85% of Stasi were male. When the Stasi were upended on January 15th 1990, the Stasi had amassed approx. 185km of files—which means that if piled up, the files would reach more than half way to the current orbiting altitude of the International Space Station. There are 40 people with the job of piecing together the not insignificant portion the Stasi managed to shred. At current progress, it will take them approx. 375 years to complete the task.

      • Citizen says:

        Stasi’s reach went around the world to get at anyone who sought to tell the truth about life in the DDR; they’d even map the route your 8 year old daughter took to school in the land you escaped to: link to upi.com

      • RoHa says:

        “the files would reach more than half way to the current orbiting altitude of the International Space Station.”

        So the Stasi were part of the East German space programme?

        “There are 40 people with the job of piecing together the not insignificant portion the Stasi managed to shred. ”

        Is it worth it? Most of it will be tedious “Subject sneered at a picture of Honecker in the newspaper. Drank coffee. Paid. Flirted with waitress. Failed to get off with her. Left cafe.”

        “At current progress, it will take them approx. 375 years to complete the task.”

        And in three hundred years someone will accidently drop the box containing the shreds and they’ll all come apart again.

  4. Taxi says:

    We surprised they target dissident intellectuals like the KGB used to target it’s intellectual giants and artists?

    Heck I ain’t.

  5. annie says:

    this reminds me of a point i made this morning on another thread

    that is why they are advertising this spying program because it is supposed to make us afraid so we self monitor. if that aspect (self monitoring) wasn’t part of the plan why would they announce they’re intending to spy on us? why not go under the radar?

    no, they are trying to create fear around those of us who expose israel’s lies. it’s not enough to know, as Julian Schnabel mentioned, one could loose their job:

    Most directors probably need the job. And don’t want to get blackballed. People don’t want to get fired for supporting something that might not be popular. Personally, I don’t need to get hired. I don’t care. I am not looking for a job.

    we are supposed to fear associating with jvp or activists groups. so, the best defense is offense and our best offense is exposure. truth is our best offense.

  6. Chespirito says:

    Yukky, but unsurprising. (And the incident that GL relates took place at Trinity U in the Irish Republic, not in England.)

    • lysias says:

      I’ve never heard it called anything other than “Trinity College” (sometimes with a following “Dublin” added). It is technically the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin, but I’ve never heard anybody actually say that out loud.

      • RoHa says:

        Yes, I too have never heard it called anything but “Trinity College”.

        Adding “Dublin” seems a bit belt-and-braces to me.

        “Trinity” by itself will probably mean “Trinity College, Cambridge”. I’ve never heard that one called “Trinity College” in conversation.

  7. lysias says:

    Here’s the Irish Times‘s account of Levy’s talk at Trinity College in Dublin: Israeli journalist criticises ‘self-censorship’.

    It seems a sympathetic account.

    Anybody know what the unfavorable account was in an unnamed “well-known newspaper”?

    • lysias says:

      I suspect Levy meant this account in Ynet News, which does look quite inflammatory: Israeli columnist: Media dehumanizes Palestinians:

      Senior Haaretz writer Gideon Levy claims Israeli ‘occupation’ is ‘tyranny’ that won’t last forever, says settlements are crimes, slams media for legitimizing attacks against Palestinians

      Itamar Eichner
      Published: 03.15.11, 18:39 / Israel News

      The Israelis believe that they are the chosen people; their way of thinking is disconnected from reality and they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of anti-Semitism – so claimed Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy during a lecture he gave at Trinity College in Dublin last week.

      The lecture was held as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week” at Ireland’s oldest university. Levy was the keynote speaker at the event. He spoke with a PLO flag at his side.

      Levy slammed the Israeli media, saying that its slanted reportage attempts to legitimize crimes against the Palestinians. Levy accused the media of pushing the army to act against Palestinians; He said that the news outlets presented Operation Cast Lead as a war, even though there was barely any resistance on the Palestinian side; for every Israeli that died in the operation, he said, there were at least 100 Palestinians.

      “The Israeli media is dehumanizing 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,” he explained.

    • annie says:

      excellent

      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.”

      • MHughes976 says:

        Maybe Levy thinks that his remarks about an Israeli illusion of chosenness need to be put in a context that he in fact provided but has not been reported?

  8. seafoid says:

    I was just reading the New York Review and there were 2 articles that really caught my attention.

    link to nybooks.com

    “it cannot be reiterated enough: the experience of making and taking in culture is now, for the first time in human history, a condition of almost paralyzing overabundance. For millennia it was a condition of scarcity; and all the ways we regard things we want but cannot have, in those faraway days, stood between people and the art or music they needed to have. ”

    link to nybooks.com

    “Even in the noisiest system, errors can be reliably corrected and accurate information transmitted, provided that the transmission is sufficiently redundant. That is, in a nutshell, how Wikipedia works.”

    Israel was created before the information flood. It was and still is based on an ideology that can’t be exposed to the light. And it is led by people like Bibi and Tzipi and Hoenlein and the Dersh but especially Lieberman who don’t understand what has happened. Because you can’t stop the information. The hasbara becomes less and less effective. The truth about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is coming out and there is no Knesset law that can stop it.

    I think Mondo is a bit like Wikipedia.

    • marc b. says:

      that photo of the stones by annie leibovitz is amazing.

    • Ellen says:

      Interesting points and apt. Not to sound like a marketing person, but the hype about the impact of social media on brand apply to the Israel brand. And they do not “get it” at all.

      It’s impact for information flow cannot be stopped, and the Israeli Ministry of Information cannot control the message among an exploding global youth population with Hasbara megaphone bots, nor even with the likely increase of false flag incidents, which will back fire more and more.

      Social Media Revolution

      link to youtube.com

      Then again, Israel does operate Andocs, which operates much of the US telephone and billing system and customer experience services. So things could be gummed up.

      “Amdocs, whose shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange, maintains its global headquarters in Chesterfield, Missouri, but roughly half of its 10,000-strong workforce is based in Israel.”

      (A technology firm owned by a paranoid foreign country, already caught spying in the US is running parts of the phone system? Go figure….)

  9. casaananda says:

    Likud, Netanyahu, Leiberman, etc — they are bullies. Really, frightened, small minded, unable to see anything but a hostile world, incapable of making a positive contribution anywhere. Israel becomes a racist police state, increasingly isolated, relying solely on vast military power to maintain itself. I have been in region many times since 1969, met decent people along the way, both in the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel proper. That such thugs have had their way for so long, allied with the insane settlers, is just heartbreaking and amazing. I just hope I live long enough to see the end of it.

    • seafoid says:

      I think it’s going to change sooner than people think.
      Egypt was a game changer. The financial crisis helps. So does Iraq.

  10. yourstruly says:

    what if what it took

    getting there

    turns out to be whether or not

    one stood up

    when the call went out

    for all those in favor of justice for Palestine to please stand up

  11. RE: “UPDATE: Original headline put Levy speech in England. Commenter spotted the error.”
    MY COMMENT: Dublin, England? Oh, dear! This is most dreadful. I wonder if Peter King will hold hearings to investigate this.

    • Taxi says:

      Good one Dickerz!

      Hey I dig you new avatar foto.

      • RE: “Hey I dig you new avatar foto.” – Taxi
        REPLY: Thanks. I always seem to be going through these (metamorphic) ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…Time may change me, but I can’t trace time. I watch the ripples change their size, but never leave the stream of warm impermanence. And so the days float through my eyes… ~ Well my mind is goin’ through them changes. I feel just like I’m in the time. Every time you see me goin’ somewhere, I feel like I’m going out of my mind, yeah…Everybody wants to live free. Everybody wants to go as they please. You don’t want nobody tellin’ you what to do…
        Changes Lyricslink to lyricsdepot.com
        Ziggy Stardust, Changes* / Space Oddity (Live 1973) [VIDEO, 08:28] – link to youtube.com
        * followed by Major “Phil”
        Jimi Hendrix & Band Of Gypsys (Buddy Miles) :-: Changes…:-: (VIDEO, 06:54) – link to youtube.com

        • Taxi says:

          Cool V-Jaying combo Dickerz – I dig the Thin White Duke and Hendrix the beautiful black Orpheus.

          That’s what I love about mondosapiens: eclectic-ness.

    • piotr says:

      And now they delegitimize Ireland? Is there any end to Leftist/Jihadist perfidy? They are global menace worse than Iran.

  12. My comment is not of the “everyone else does it too” zionist defense.

    But having said that, would anyone be surprised if most other nations spied on journalists?

  13. Nevada Ned says:

    The spying operation didn’t tell the Israeli authorities anything that they don’t already know. If the Israeli authorities really wanted to know what Gideon Levy thinks, they can just read his editorials in Haaretz.
    The spying operation was really intended to intimidate Levy.
    Will it work? I seriously doubt it.

    Years ago, the Israel Lobby sent spies to monitor Noam Chomsky’s public speeches. Did it work? Of course not. And for Chomsky, the public acceptance for his ideas is much more favorable and receptive than it once was.

    • Gideon Levy has the strength of his own convictions, a long track record and the backing of Haaretz. (Not to mention the ultimate backing of the truth on his side). I doubt there was an intention to intimidate him – the intention is, as reported, to smear him in other publications and in Israeli minds, by quoting him selectively and distortedly. The secondary aim is to send a clear and unequivocal message to other writers and journalists who don’t enjoy the status Levy has. That is where the intimidation lies.

  14. Rafi says:

    Linkin Park: When They Come For Me

    I am not / a pattern to be followed
    The pill that I’m on is a tough one to swallow
    I’m not a criminal / not a role model
    Not a born leader I’m a tough act to follow
    I am not / the fortune and the fame
    Nor the same person telling you to forfeit the game
    I came in the ring like a dog on a chain
    And I found out the underbelly’s sicker than it seems
    And it seems ugly / but it can get worse
    ‘Cause even a blueprint is a gift and a curse
    ‘Cause once you got a theory of how the thing works
    Everybody wants the next thing to be just like the first
    And I’m not a robot
    I’m not a monkey
    I will not dance even if the beat’s funky
    Opposite of lazy / far from a punk
    Ya’ll ought to stop talking start trying to catch up motherfucker
    And all the people say

    Lauryn said money change a situation

    Big said it increase the complication
    Kane said don’t step / I ain’t the one
    Chuck said miuzi weigh a motherfucking ton
    And I’m just a student of the game that they taught me
    Rockin’ every stage in every place that it brought me
    I’m awfully underrated / but came here to correct it
    And so it ain’t mistaken I’ma state it for the record /
    I am / the opposite of wack / opposite of weak
    Opposite of slack / synonym of heat
    Synonym of crack / closest to a peak
    Far from a punk
    Ya’ll ought to stop talking / start trying to catch up motherfucker
    And all the people say

    Oh / When they come for me
    Come for me
    I’ll be gone

    [ From: link to metrolyrics.com ]

  15. housedoc says:

    Particularly good post by David Habakkuk on Col. Pat Lang’s blog

    link to turcopolier.typepad.com

    Entitled “A Poisoned Chalice” it begins with these two paragraphs and is well worth a read.
    “The proposals that Israel should be admitted to NATO, discussed by Clifford Kiracofe in a post not long ago, provide yet another illustration of the inability of so many of that country’s most committed supporters, both in United States and elsewhere in the West, to grasp the suicidal nature of the course they have encouraged it to follow.

    At a time when the waves of unrest sweeping the Arab world are calling fundamentally into question the ability of the United States to persuade governments in crucial countries – above all Egypt – to act in ways which Israel wants, support for that country in some of the traditionally most loyal allies of the US has been collapsing. Certainly, the Israeli government’s presentation of its policies towards the Palestinians – and also Lebanon and Iran – as the unavoidable defensive responses of a beleaguered outpost of Western civilisation, confronted by that civilisation’s implacable Arab and Muslim enemies, retains powerful traction, particularly among neoconservatives, in Europe as in the United States.”

    David Habakkuk lives in London, and is a former television current affairs producer. After studying economics and history at Cambridge, he lived in Mexico, and then worked on the Liverpool Daily Post newspaper and the Financial Times. Subsequently he produced programmes for London Weekend Television and the BBC, and as an independent television producer. Among his editors at London Weekend was Greg Dyke, later forced to resign as BBC Director-General in the wake of Lord Hutton’s report on the David Kelly affair – one of the series of official reports which seem to betray a bewildering insouciance about the state of British intelligence. Among his researchers was Peter Mandelson, who later taught the Labour Party spindoctoring, twice lost his Cabinet position due to sailing too close to the wind, but has survived to become a European commissioner. He lost faith in the neocons’ intelligence abilities when making programmes on Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’ – as they continued to insist that it was a
    deception operation, long after it was clear that this was patently not a tenable interpretation of the facts. His father worked, at the beginning of World War II, on codebreaking at Bletchley Park – a fact of which when growing up he was quite unaware.

  16. piotr says:

    Actually, one of the legitimate roles of an Embassy is to collect information about economy, politics, culture etc. Making notes and compiling reports on public events is a legitimate function, not sinister in itself.

    The sinister element is that peaceful expressions are branded hostile, disloyal etc. and policies are being crafted to use the power of the state to muzzle them. Crime thoughts are already prosecuted for Palestinians with prison terms, and secret organs of the state probably concoct non-thought offences to the prosecution. There is a demand to extend the repressions to Jews. Right now, the government can prohibit any ads from being placed in Haaretz by agencies and organization accepting government funding, and by giving an official stamp “non-kosher” to the purchase of such ads, they can try to bancrupt Ha’aretz. (At least, this may be an intention of a new law.)

    Information is neutral, but the use of information is not. For example, military intelligence will compile a data base of organizations and blogs opposing Israel. Members and participants can be denied visas, and the pesky problem of international and Jewish observers in occupied territories (and Israel) can be solved. I think that with little effort I could provide cites for such proposals. Given meager sympathies for dissent among Jewish citizens of Israel, Israel can be a fascist and democratic state.