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The man who’s hated for exposing Israeli illusions

The Al Jazeera report is followed by a 2012 article by Gideon Levy on Israeli apartheid. Some notes are at at the end. For a couple of examples of Gideon Levy’s journalism, see: Israelis can’t see, and don’t want, a way to live with Arabs,
The movie that shows that non-violence is not an option for Palestinians

Gideon Levy, most hated, feared, admired, honest journalist in Israel

Going Against the Grain

Journalist Gideon Levy is arguably the most hated man in Israel for his reports on the occupied Palestinian territories.

By Al Jazeera World
February 12, 2013

Gideon Levy is someone who evokes strong emotions from fellow Israelis.

The writer and journalist has made weekly visits, over the past three decades, to the occupied Palestinian territories, describing what he sees – plainly and without propaganda.

For some Israelis, he is seen as a brave disseminator of the truth. But many others condemn him as a propagandist for Hamas. And his columns for the Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper have made him, arguably, one of the most hated men in Israel.

“When I joined Haaretz newspaper, I started to visit the occupied territories,” Levy says. “I immediately realised this was what I wanted to do; to understand the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation.”

“I figured out three things. First, this was the biggest drama facing the state of Israel. Second, this story was not being covered by the Israeli media. And third, this was going to be my life mission – to report about the Israeli occupation to Israeli readers who did not want to know what was really happening there.”

Over the years, Levy’s stories have shed light on the realities Palestinians face on a daily basis.

One of his earlier reports, ‘Death of a baby’ in 1996, told of an incident involving the Abu Dahouk family. They were stopped at a checkpoint on their way to a hospital. Israeli soldiers delayed the family including a heavily pregnant Fayzeh Abu Dahouk, who ended up delivering her baby in the backseat of the car.

The baby, who she hoped to name Yousef, died a couple of days later.

Levy wrote at the time: “Who the hell are they? Who are those soldiers who saw Fayzeh Abu Dahouk in pain as she delivered her baby in her brother-in-law’s car. Who are those soldiers who didn’t let her pass to reach the hospital?”

“Who are those soldiers who made Fayzeh have to wrap her baby in her clothes and walk two kilometres to reach the hospital?”

Levy’s reports have told of young Palestinians gunned down by Israeli soldiers after being accused of throwing stones; the lack of retribution against soldiers who kill Palestinians in cold blood; and the plight of Palestinian farmers, who make their livelihoods from olive trees, but who have had them burned and destroyed by settlers time and time again.

Many in Israel have criticised Levy’s reporting, saying that he and his colleagues are responsible for reinforcing anti-Semitism around the world.

But others see Levy as an individual who is courageously going against the common views of the society in which he lives.

“History has witnessed worse and more brutal occupiers than the Israelis. But I’ve never heard about an occupation that believes it is the victim. And the only victim,” he says.

“I sometimes feel ashamed of what is being done on our behalf. I feel really guilty towards the Palestinians. I think we are doing terrible things to them.”

Going Against the Grain follows Gideon Levy on one of his assignments in Hebron, and meets some of the ordinary Palestinians whose lives he has described in his regular column for Haaretz. To watch the film (47 mins) click on headline above.


Apartheid without shame or guilt

By Gideon Levy, Ha’Aretz

 October 23,  2012

We’re racists, the Israelis are saying, we practice apartheid and we even want to live in an apartheid state. Yes, this is Israel.

As elections draw near, the season of public opinion surveys is upon us. But here is a survey that is more disturbing and significant in its revelations than those informing us whether Yair Lapid is taking off or Ehud Barak is crashing in the polls.

This one lays bare an image of Israeli society, and the picture is a very, very sick one. Now it is not just critics at home and abroad, but Israelis themselves who are openly, shamelessly, and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists.

We’re racists, the Israelis are saying, we practice apartheid and we even want to live in an apartheid state. Yes, this is Israel.

Among its terrifying results, the survey discovers a certain innocent candor. The Israelis admit this is what they are and they’re not ashamed of it. Such surveys have been held before, but Israelis have never appeared so pleased with themselves, even when they admit their racism. Most of them think Israel is a good place to live in and most of them think this is a racist state.

It’s good to live in this country, most Israelis say, not despite its racism, but perhaps because of it. If such a survey were released about the attitude to Jews in a European state, Israel would have raised hell. When it comes to us, the rules don’t apply.

The “Jewish” part of “Jewish democracy” has won big time. The “Jewish” gave “democracy” a knockout, smashing it to the canvas. Israelis want more and more Jewish and less and less democracy. From now on don’t say Jewish democracy. There’s no such thing, of course. There cannot be. From now on say Jewish state, only Jewish, for Jews alone. Democracy – sure, why not. But for Jews only.

Because that’s what the majority wants. Because that’s how the majority defines its state. The majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, Arab neighbors at home or Arab students at school. Let our camp be pure – as clean of Arabs as possible and perhaps even more so.

The majority wants segregated roads in the West Bank and does not flinch in the face of the implications. Even the historic connotation does not bother it in the slightest. It wants discrimination in the workplace and it wants transfer. Enough with the whitewashing and pretense. This is what we want. Because that’s the way we are.

The right will probably attack the New Israel Fund for commissioning the survey. Gevalt! It will screech. Leftists, Israel-haters. But the right’s hollering will not change the result. This was done by a reliable, well-known polling firm. Besides, what’s wrong with the survey? What didn’t we know before, apart from the loss of shame? Let the right prove that this is not the way we are, that most Israelis want to live with Arabs. That most of them see Arabs as people like themselves, their equals in rights and opportunities. Let’s see them prove it wrong. That would be a true cause for celebration.

The survey does not only confront Israelis with their present, but with their future as well. This appears to be the survey conductors’ main goal. It tells them: You wanted settlements, you wanted occupation, you want Netanyahu and you’ve done nothing for the two-state solution, and it’s died. Now let’s see what’s the alternative.

The alternative, as every infant knows, is one state. One state? Most Israelis say it will be an apartheid state, yet are doing nothing to prevent it. Some of them even want it. They don’t even ask, Where are we going? Where are we being led? What’s the vision for the next 10, 20 years? Well, if all goes well, if all continues they way it is now, the Israelis know the answer and it’s a bitter one indeed.

Until then, the image of Israel 2012 is this: We don’t want Arabs, don’t want Palestinians, don’t want equality, and the hell with all the rest.

Values-shmalues, morals-shmorals. Democracy and international law – those are matters for anti-Semites, not us. We will vote for Netanyahu again, recite that we’re the only-democracy-in-the-Middle-East and wail that the whole world is against us.


Gideon Levy was ‘awarded’ Dishonest Reporter of the Year by Honest Reporting: Defending Israel from Media Bias


Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He is the author of the weekly Twilight Zone feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper.

Levy was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996.

His latest book, The Punishment of Gaza, is published by Verso Publishing House, 2010, in London and New York.

He was born in 1953 in Tel Aviv, the son of German Jewish immigrants. After his military service, he worked as a reporter for Israel Army Radio. From 1978 to 1982 he worked as an aide to Shimon Peres. He began work with Ha’Aretz in 1982 and has stayed there since.

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