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Rob Coles: Review of David Levy, The Zionist Entity: The Jewish State in the 21st Century. Mazo Publishers, 2015.

 

 

 

 

David Levy, The Zionist Entity: The Jewish State in the 21st Century. Mazo Publishers, 2015.  

 

“Zionist entity” is a label some critics of Israel use to delegitimize the Jewish State. Its roots lay in the Arab and Muslim anti-Israel propaganda war to deny the Jewish People the right to a nation in their historical homeland in the Middle East. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a notorious anti-Zionist and Holocaust denier, once called on the world to "abandon the filthy Zionist entity which has reached the end of the line." Labelling Israel “Zionist entity” emphasizes Zionism as an ideological movement, rather than a nation. The end goal is to delegitimize Israel and facilitate its destruction.

 

Levy’s book, a strong defence of the Jewish State, unpacks 21st century anti-Zionism through interviews with personal acquaintances, both pro- and anti-Israel, and his own knowledge of the region. The book is not an academic study, but rather a contemporary oral history written in a casual, and, at only 159 pages, sparse style. A lecturer on cinema history, Levy has direct experience with anti-Israel crusaders in the film industry. A cinema conference at Tel Aviv University provides an introduction to the controversial topic of anti-Israel “BDS” boycotts. Although the conference, Cinematic Traces of Things to Come, included an entry by a Cambodian director and film about a massacre that took place in Indonesia in 1965, some academics, Jew and non-Jew, promoted a boycott of the event. Levy concludes that the boycott was not directed at the themes explored in the conference or the films presented, but the venue itself, Tel Aviv University. It wasn’t clear if the boycott endorsers had any knowledge of the films screened or the topics discussed, but for “BDS” advocates these details are irrelevant. In the black-and-white world of Israel boycotts, it’s Israel and its institutions that are on trial.

 

One of Levy’s interviewees, a retired sociology professor named Ben, fully supported the boycott. Ben represents what the author calls a “Jihadi Jew,” A.K.A. “self-hating Jew,” an unusual phenomenon of hard-left Jewish anti-Israel activist. In the polarized world of the “Jihadi Jew,” Levy explains, there is no middle-ground. Ben had never been to Israel and knew virtually nothing about the country except for a handful of biased, pro-Palestinian articles he had read. And this, in a nutshell, is a big part of the problem. Many hard-core critics of Israel have never visited the country or read any nuanced interpretations of Israel’s politics and history. Levy suggested that Ben should read Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, a balanced, non-partisan depiction of the Jewish State. Nonetheless, Ben, like many critics of Israel are too intellectually lazy to read books that   challenge their own biases and political viewpoints. Never mind that Shavit, a journalist for the left-wing Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, has been critical of Israel’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians and the so-called occupation. Shavit’s crime is to be a Zionist, the “absolute lowest form of humanity” for “Jihadi Jews.”  

 

Although Israel continues to have its enemies in the Arab and Muslim world, the Jewish State’s contemporary detractors are often found among Western liberals. Levy asks how is it that Israel has become the “bête noir” of our time. 21st century Anti-Zionism is assumed to be a result of a “perverse left-wingism in league with a rising tide of anti-Semitism and some formidable and persistent Big Media bias.” But even more baffling is the phenomenon of Western leftists who, in the name of “social justice” and “human rights,” are unyielding in their critique of Israel — the only true democracy in the region — where religious freedom, racial equality, women’s rights, and freedom of sexual orientation are championed.

 

As a Canadian non-Jew, I am perplexed by the ongoing and shameful negativity towards Israel, particularly among self-identified liberals. I think that by visiting Israel, critics of the Jewish State should realize that the situation is not as black-and-white as they perceive and the socio-political life of the “Zionist entity” is complex. Those without the means for the trip should read a balanced analysis of Israel, such as Levy’s, for a view of the region free of anti-Israel spin so pervasive in Western media.     

 

Rob Coles is the Publications Manager at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

EDITORIAL BOARD

Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research) Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

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