Avi Lewis

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Avram David "Avi" Lewis (born 1968) is a Canadian documentary filmmaker, former host of the Al Jazeera English show Fault Lines,[1] and former host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) current-affairs program On the Map.

Biography[edit]

Family[edit]

Avi Lewis is the great grandson of Moshe Losz (Lewis), an outspoken member of the Jewish Bund who left Svisloch, Poland (today Belarus), for Montreal in 1921, with his wife Rose (née Lazarovitch) and three children, after being interrogated by the Russians for days and threatened with death or the Gulag for his political activity. Avi Lewis is the grandson of former federal NDP leader David Lewis and the son of politician and diplomat Stephen Lewis and journalist Michele Landsberg. Avi Lewis is married to journalist and author Naomi Klein; his sister Ilana Landsberg-Lewis is married to musician and activist Lorraine Segato.[2]

Lewis grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and attended Jarvis Collegiate and Upper Canada College. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1988.[3]

Lewis was featured on the November 20, 2001 "Life & Times" episode of The Lewis Family.[4]

Avi Lewis's genealogical search was featured on the January 31, 2008 episode of Who Do You Think You Are?[5]

Career[edit]

Between 1996 and 1998, Avi Lewis was host of The NewMusic, a music magazine show on MuchMusic and CityTV. He also served as MuchMusic's political specialist — by doing extensive special events coverage for the channel designed to engage youth in the political process. Among other events, he covered the 1993 Canadian federal election and the 1995 Quebec referendum. Avi Lewis won a Gemini for Best Event Coverage.

In 1998-2001, Lewis hosted CBC Newsworld's current affairs discussion show counterSpin, where he presided over 500 debates. Avi Lewis was later the host of Counterspin Sunday.

In 2004, Lewis and his wife Naomi Klein collaborated on The Take — a documentary that detailed the "recovered factory" movement in Argentina. The Take, winner of the International Jury Prize, was nominated for four Gemini Awards.

Lewis began hosting CBC Newsworld's The Big Picture with Avi Lewis in the autumn of 2006 and On the Map in 2007. He became host of Frontline USA for Al Jazeera television in 2008. Lewis was a participant in CBC's Canada Reads 2009 (see below).

On the Map[edit]

In June 2007, CBC Newsworld debuted On the Map with Avi Lewis, a daily (Monday-Thursday) half-hour of international news commentary. Lewis discussed such issues as the "Oil Law" that the United States wished Iraq to adopt, women in Afghanistan,[6] and what exactly is meant by the phrase "ungoverned spaces". The show was officially renewed for November 2007 and then disappeared without ever airing again.[7] On the Map's half-hour time slot was replaced with a half-hour summary of the daily hour-long show Politics by Don Newman.[8]

During the same time period, The Hour, which had a mix of news commentary and pop culture and provided a lighter fare than On the Map, became decidedly more oriented to pop culture - even though there has been some creep towards greater news commentary as the season progressed. George Stroumboulopoulos stated during the opening show, that the modification of format was because The Hour would now be shown right after The National (rather than before in previous seasons) when shown on the CBC main channel.[9][10][11]

Lewis conducted a June 11, 2007 interview with political writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali. After repeatedly and openly sniggering at Hirsi Ali's complimentary remarks about the United States, Lewis sharply questioned some of her views - including her denial of the existence of Islamophobia, her belief that Islam was inherently misogynistic, and her positive opinions concerning American democracy. Lewis compared Islamophobia to Anti-Semitism, seeing both as equally real, to which Ali replied: "Racism is a universal trait, so is antisemitism, by the way. But I want us not to confuse a set of beliefs such as Islam, with ethnicity such as the hatred against Jews just because they are Jews, or against blacks just because they are black, or against gays just because of- it's something you can't do anything about. Whereas Islam is simply a set of beliefs, and it's not Islamophobic to say ... this is being done in the name of your religion."[12]

The interview provoked a strong response from right-wing commentators in the US and Canada:

"Ayaan Hirsi Ali kicked smarmy idiot leftist Avi Lewis' Ass during this now infamous CBC interview. In doing so Ms. Ali, with the unwitting aid of Idiot Avi, exposed the "progressive" left as a brain dead monster incapable of thought beyond knee-jerk cliche and half-baked conspiracy theory. Avi Lewis is the embodiment of this mainstream leftist thinking, a walking, talking leftoid zombie."

"Hirsi Ali delivers a TKO."

"Ayaan Hirsi Ali Steps on a Cockroach."

"She makes this guy look like a clown, which, since he is part of the MSM in a far left country, he probably is. "

"Avi Lewis's one identifiable vice — his smug left-wing ideology — is one he shares with 99% of CBC staffers (and 90% of Toronto media types for that matter). What I've seen on his show isn't any worse than your average airing of, say, The Current. "

"Avi Lewis is too stupid to really be Jewish."

"Cartoonishly anti-American Canadian interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali"

"How to speak to an idiot and still maintain your grace and poise."

Lewis has stated [13] that Hugo Chávez's actions do not match his rhetoric and has criticized Chávez for not doing more to close down the "laboratory" of policies which he had inherited from previous administrations. Naomi Klein, who credited Avi Lewis for his input into her book The Shock Doctrine, links both stifling of dissent and concentration of power with the implementation of these earlier economic policies.[citation needed][13]

Why Democracy?[edit]

From October 8–18, 2007, Avi Lewis hosted the ten-part international documentary series Why Democracy? in Canada.[14]

Frontline USA / Inside USA[edit]

Inside USA first aired on Al Jazeera television on February 8, 2008 with the episode "Politics of Race". Al Jazeera describes Inside USA as "an in-depth look at the real issues at stake in the US presidential election." [15]

Politics Of Race (February 22, 2008) focused on the situation in New Orleans and the disenfranchising of Black voters.[16][17]

Native Americans (March 1, 2008) focused on Lakota Sioux separatism, social and economic issues surrounding the Lakota Sioux, Navajo and the Shoshone peoples.[18][19] The last few minutes were devoted to the role online videos play in the American election - including a clip from "Yes We Can".

Canada Reads[edit]

Lewis was a panelist in CBC's Canada Reads, which aired on March 2–6, 2009. Canada Reads is a seasonal show in which celebrities choose a book and advocate on its behalf. He presented, and successfully defended, the winning book, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes.[20]

References[edit]

External links[edit]