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Haaretz opinion writer tackles antisemitism perception in Napa rape case

In an opinion article drawing a mixed response, veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has likened reaction inside Israel over the arrest of 12 Israeli youths in Ayia Napa to Israelis’ tendency to perceive negative publicity as antisemitism no matter the circumstances.

Writing for Haaretz, Levy notes sardonically: “Your heart cries out to them. Just let them return home in peace. They’re now under arrest, in the hands of Gentiles, and who knows what they’re going through there.

“There are reports that they’re shackled, that they’re being beaten. There’s a rumour going around that they’ve been transferred to the Turkish side on the Midnight Express.”

Levy, known for his pro-Palestinian stance and criticism of Israeli society, adds:

“The usual Israeli narrative is clear in most of the reports from Ayia Napa in Cyprus: The whole world is against us. We (again) are the victims. If they weren’t Israelis no one would have arrested them. Twelve Jewish kids under arrest in the Diaspora – do you realise what that means? They’re children, obviously. If they were Palestinians, they’d be called young men.”

He goes on to predict that the affair in Ayia Napa will be twisted into an insular discourse about supposed anti-Jewish sentiment.

“Reports of Cypriot antisemitism are on the way. And who can trust the Cypriot justice system anyway? It’s cruel and primitive, unlike ours, the most progressive and humane one in the world. How dare they, those Cypriots, arrest 12 Jewish kids before their induction into elite army units?

“The parents who told the media, as a mitigating circumstance, that their boys were about to join these units were oblivious to the irony: Some of them were about to serve in an army whose main mission is abuse, just like what happened that night in Ayia Napa. Maybe that night was a prelude to basic training?”

He then delivers the punch line:

“The victim is obviously making it up, the suspects are victims, the entire Israeli story encompassed in one night in room 723. If they were suspected of raping an Israeli-Jewish woman, your heart wouldn’t reach out to them the same way.

“But they’re suspected of raping a female goy, a shiksa, a little whore, and that’s an entirely different story. This isn’t stated explicitly, obviously, but it’s planted deep within the subtext of the reports, enveloped in a thin veneer of decency and correctness under which the true emotions seethe and bubble.”

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