Reporter portrait: Gideon Levy

By Jessica Davey-Quantick

Name: Gideon Levy

Date of Birth: 1953

Nationality: Israeli

Country where he’s worked: Israel

Gideon Levy has been described as the most hated man in Israel. He’s also been described as a hero. He has written extensively on Palestinian-Israeli relations, often documenting human stories from within Gaza and the West Bank. For example, he won the Anna Lindh Foundation Journalism Award in 2008 for an article he wrote about the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces. He has been outspoken about his beliefs in the BDS movement and has called for an end to what he openly refers to as an apartheid state. Recently, he urged that people commemorate both Nakba Day—marking Palestinian displacement—as well the Israeli Declaration of Independence. As might be expected, some applaud his work, others see it as supporting radicalism.

Gideon_Levi_-_Acre_Festival_2011

Gideon Levy in 2011. (Hanay/Wikimedia Commons)

Part of what makes Levy’s work fascinating to me is that he says things that are never supposed to be said. He equates what is going on in the Occupied Territories with the tragedies of apartheid and genocide, although he avoids direct comparisons to the Holocaust. He airs what he sees as Israeli’s dirty laundry, particularly in what he sees as their inability to see the inequality their state is build on. As he wrote in Haaretz on July 14, 2013: “It’s anti-Semitism, we say. The whole world’s against us and we are not the ones responsible for its attitude toward us . . . Along with the dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinians and the Arabs, people here are too brainwashed with nationalism to come to their senses.”

By drawing attention to the discrepancies in the standard narrative, Levy draws attention to the narrative itself, and opening a very large can of worms that many would argue is not his to open. What he is saying isn’t particularly new: other news outlets have reported similar stories, especially journalists with ties to Palestine. But he has made a name for himself primarily because he is an Israeli journalist expressing these opinions. Who he is—the Israeli son of refugees who fled to the Middle East in the wake of Nazi persecution—is, in large part, the story.

How you view Levy, as either a hero or a traitor, depends less on what he actually writes and more on how you see and understand the issues he writes about. Because of who he is, his articles and his opinions reach consumers who otherwise may not have encountered those ideas. As he told Al Jazeera, “ … 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.”

These are not new opinions he spouts, rather it’s the fact that he is doing the spouting that often makes his work newsworthy. Whether he’s viewed as a traitor or a hero depends on the consumer.

 

 

 

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