Gideon Levy

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This article is about the Israeli journalist. For the Dutch journalist and TV presenter, see Gideon Levy (Dutch journalist).
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levi - Acre Festival 2011.jpg
Gideon Levy, 2011
Born 1953 (age 60–61)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Nationality Israeli
Education M.A. Political Science, Tel Aviv University
Occupation Journalist

Gideon Levy (Hebrew: גדעון לוי‎; born 1953) is an Israeli journalist. Levy writes opinion pieces and a weekly column for the newspaper Haaretz that often focus on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. A notable journalist on the Israeli left,[1] Levy has been characterized as a "heroic journalist" by some,[2] by others as a "propagandist for the Hamas".[3]


Levy was born in 1953 in Tel Aviv. Levy’s father, Heinz (Zvi) Loewy, was born in the town of Saatz in the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, and earned a law degree from the University of Prague. He fled the Nazis in 1939 on a flight organized by two Slovakian Jews, together with 800 others. He spent six months on an illegal immigrant boat, the Frossoula, registered under a Panamanian flag, which was denied entry into Turkey and Palestine, and was permitted only temporary anchorage at Tripoli. He was then imprisoned in a detention camp at Beirut for six weeks. The group was then allowed to leave. During its journey, ship was strafed by Royal Air Force planes, killing two passengers, after which the group was transferred to another ship, the Tiger Hill, which reached Mandate Palestine, where it managed to run aground at Tel-Aviv's Frischman Beach.[4][5][6] His mother, Thea, was also from Czechoslovakia, and was brought to Palestine in a rescue operation for children in 1939, and was placed in a kibbutz. His father initially opened a bakery in Herzliya with his sister and worked as a newspaper deliveryman, but later found a job as an office clerk. The family initially lived in poverty, but their lives became relatively comfortable when the German Holocaust reparations arrived.[7] Levy attended Public School Alef. He and his younger brother Rafi would often sing together, notably songs composed by Haim Hefer.[8] During the Six-Day War, the street adjacent to his home was hit by Arab artillery.[9] Levy describes his political views as a teenager as typically mainstream. "I was a full member of the nationalistic religious orgy. We all were under the feeling that the whole project [of Israel] is in an existentialistic danger. We all felt that another holocaust is around the corner."[10]

Levy resides in the Ramat Aviv neighborhood of Tel Aviv (on the lands of Sheikh Munis),[11] and is a divorced father of two.[12] He says his sons do not share his politics and do not read anything he writes.[13]

Journalism and media career[edit]

In 1974, Levy was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces where he served as a reporter for Israel Army Radio. From 1978 to 1982 he worked as an aide to Shimon Peres, then leader of the Israeli Labor Party. In 1982, he began to write for the Israeli daily Haaretz. In 1983–1987, he was an assistant to the editor-in-chief.[12] Despite his coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict, he speaks no Arabic.[12] He has written a column called "Twilight Zone" about the hardships of the Palestinians since 1988. In 2004, Levy published a compilation of articles entitled Twilight Zone – Life and Death under the Israeli Occupation.[14] With Haim Yavin, he co-edited Whispering Embers, a documentary series on Russian Jewry after the fall of communism. He hosted A Personal meeting with Gideon Levy, a weekly talk show that was broadcast on Israeli cable TV on channel 3,[12] and has appeared periodically on other television talk shows.

Levy has said that his views on Israel's policies toward the Palestinians developed only after joining Haaretz. "When I first started covering the West Bank for Haaretz, I was young and brainwashed," he said in an interview.[15] "I would see settlers cutting down olive trees and soldiers mistreating Palestinian women at the checkpoints, and I would think, 'These are exceptions, not part of government policy.' It took me a long time to see that these were not exceptions – they were the substance of government policy."

In an interview, he said he doubts that any other newspaper in Israel apart from Haaretz would give him the journalistic freedom to publish the kind of pieces he writes.[12]

On the issue of copyright violations in journalism, Gideon Levy voiced support for Johann Hari of The Independent, who was accused of plagiarism, while confirming that Hari had lifted quotes from Levy's newspaper column.[16]

Views and opinions[edit]

Levy defines himself as a "patriotic Israeli".[17] He criticizes what he sees as Israeli society's "moral blindness" to the effects of its acts of war and occupation. He has referred to the construction of settlements on private Palestinian land as "the most criminal enterprise in [Israel's] history".[18] He opposed the 2006 Lebanon War, and the view that civilian casualties were inevitable. In 2007, he said that the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, then under Israeli blockade, made him ashamed to be an Israeli.[19] "My modest mission is to prevent a situation in which many Israelis will be able to say 'We didn't know'," said Levy in an interview.[10]

Levy supports unilateral withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories without concessions. "Israel is not being asked 'to give' anything to the Palestinians; it is only being asked to return – to return their stolen land and restore their trampled self-respect, along with their fundamental human rights and humanity."[20]

Levy used to support the two-state solution, but he argues that it has become untenable, and he now supports one-state solution.[21][22]

Levy wrote that the Gaza War was a failed campaign and its objectives were not achieved. "The conclusion is that Israel is a violent and dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about international law," he wrote in an editorial.[23]

In 2010, Levy described Hamas as a fundamentalist organization and holds it responsible for the Qassam rockets fired at Israeli cities: "Hamas is to be blamed for launching the Qassams. This is unbearable. No sovereign state would have tolerated it. Israel had the right to react."[17]

Levy supports boycotting Israel, saying it is "the Israeli patriot’s final refuge".[24][25] Levy has said that economic boycott is more important, but that he also supports academic and cultural boycott.[26]

Praise and criticism[edit]

Gideon Levy at International Media Awards 2012

Levy's writing has earned him numerous awards, including the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award in 1996 by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel,[27] the Anna Lindh foundation journalism award in 2008 for an article he wrote about Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces,[28] and the Peace Through Media Award in 2012.[29] He has been described as "a powerful liberal voice" by The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman[30] and praised by Johann Hari of The Independent as "the heroic Israeli journalist".[2] Journalist and literary critic Nicholas Lezard in his review of Levy's book The Punishment of Gaza described him as "an Israeli dedicated to saving his country's honour," although "there is much of the story he leaves out."[31] He has been profiled in Le Monde[32] and Der Spiegel.[12][33] "He has a global name. He may be [one of] the most famous and the most invited journalists in Israel", wrote Israeli journalist Ben Dror Yemini.[34]

On the other hand, he has been criticized for being anti-Israeli and supporting Palestinian radicalism. "Is it wrong to ask of reporters in a country that is in the midst of a difficult war to show a little more empathy for their people and their country?" asked Amnon Dankner of the Maariv newspaper.[35] Ben Dror Yemini, the editor of the opinion page of Maariv, called Levy one of the "propagandists for the Hamas".[3] Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, wrote "[One of] the current Israeli heroes [of the Hamas], from whom the Palestinians garner support for their ways, [is] Gideon Levy ..."[36] In 2008, Arutz Sheva reported that Levy's article about the Jerusalem bulldozer attack was translated into Arabic for a Hamas website.[37] In 2006, Gideon Ezra, Israel's former deputy Minister of Internal Security, suggested that the General Security Services should monitor Levy as a borderline security risk.[38]

Israeli novelist Irit Linur set off a wave of subscription cancellations to Haaretz in 2002, when she wrote an open letter to the paper cancelling her own subscription.[39] "It is a person's right to be a radical leftist, and publish a newspaper in accordance with his world view... However Haaretz has reached the point where its anti-Zionism has become stupid and evil," she wrote.[39] She also accused Levy of amateurism because he does not speak Arabic.[40][41]

Other public figures also cancelled their subscriptions, including Roni Daniel, the military and security correspondent for Israeli Channel 2.[42] Levy himself joked that there is a thick file of anti-Levy cancellations in the Haaretz newsroom.[33]

In an open letter to Levy in 2009, Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua, formerly a supporter of Levy, described his comparison of Gazan-Israeli death tolls as absurd and questioned his motives.[43]

During the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict the chairman of the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu faction in the Knesset, Yariv Levin, called for Levy to be put on trial for treason, due to Levy's anti-war views.[44]

Published works[edit]


Gideon Levy was awarded the Leipzig Media Award 2003,[45] the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue 2007,[46] and the Peace Through Media Award at the eighth annual International Media Awards on 5 May 2012.[47][48]


  1. ^ לוי, גדעון. "העיתונאי מחפש משמעות". העין השביעית. Retrieved 22 November 2010. Translation: That is the only way to explain [Barnea's] relentless attack on left journalists, the undersigned included (7th-eye, issue no. 29). Barnea probably finds it hard to write without inserting a world view and is twice as hard for him to accept the existence of colleagues who consider their world view to be a candle at their feet. Original:
    רק כך אפשר להסביר את השתלחותו חסרת הרסן בעיתונאי השמאל, הח"מ ביניהם ("העין השביעית", גיליון מס' 29). לברנע קשה כנראה לכתוב בלי השקפת עולם וקשה לו שבעתיים להכיר בקיומם של עמיתים למקצוע שהשקפת עולמם היא נר לעבודתם.
  2. ^ a b "Johann Hari: Will Gaza, like Iraq, descend into civil war?". 14 December 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Yemini, Ben Dror (17 January 2009). "Conscience pimps – סרסורי מצפון" (in Hebrew). Ma'ariv. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  4. ^ Gideon Levy, 'A stranger in an ancestral home: Gideon Levy searches for his roots in the Czech Republic,' at Haaretz 22 June 2013.
  5. ^ Interview by Johann Hari (24 September 2010). "Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?". Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Gideon Levy, 'The last passenger,' at Haaretz, 4 August 2013.
  7. ^ Levy, Gideon (19 April 2012). "Israel must remember the Holocaust's refugees, forever changed". Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  8. ^ לוי, גדעון (10 April 2009). "בוא שיר עברי שני שיבר ושליש ירכתיים" (in Hebrew). Haaretz. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  9. ^ אזור הדמדומים | 100 בהיסטוריה, by Gideon Levy.
  10. ^ a b Six Day War prompts reflection in Middle East ABC, 11 June 2007
  11. ^ Levy, Gideon (6 August 2009). "From Sheikh Jarrah to Sheikh Munis". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 March 2011. "Somewhere, perhaps in a refugee camp in terrible poverty, lives the family of the farmer who plowed the land where my house now stands."" 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "לקסיקון אנציקלופדי לתקשורת ועיתונות – גדעון לוי" (in Hebrew). העין השביעית. 26 February 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  13. ^ Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic
  14. ^ "A Literary Hot Spot Celebrates a Birthday –". 18 March 2005. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Robert Hirschfield, "Israel’s Gadfly", In These Times, 4 September 2009
  16. ^ Gideon Levy backs Johann Hari in plagiarism row
  17. ^ a b "Jewish Chronicle interview: Gideon Levy". 5 October 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  18. ^ What do you mean when you say 'no'? Haaretz, 18 November 2007
  19. ^ Ha'aretz, Israel's Liberal Beacon The Nation, 6 September 2007
  20. ^ Gideon Levy, ‘Demands of a thief,’ Haaretz 25/11/2007
  21. ^ Gideon Levy, ‘Who’s afraid of a binational state?,’ Haaretz 02/02/2014
  22. ^ Interview by ICAHD Finland (2 February 2014). "One state solution vs. two state solution". ICAHD Finland. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  23. ^ Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 22/01/2009.
  24. ^ Gideon Levy, ‘The Israeli patriot’s final refuge: boycott,’ Haaretz 14/07/2013
  25. ^ Interview by ICAHD Finland (2 February 2014). "What led you to change your mind regarding BDS?". ICAHD Finland. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  26. ^ Interview by ICAHD Finland (2 February 2014). "What is your view on academic and cultural boycott as compared to economic boycott?". ICAHD Finland. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "List of recipients of the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award on the Association of Human Rights in Israel website" (in Hebrew). Retrieved 20 June 2010. 
  28. ^ "Gideon Levy wins Anna Lindh Journalistic Prize for his exceptional writings on the challenges of the region". 27 July 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  29. ^ "Haaretz's Gideon Levy wins Peace Through Media Award". 2 April 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  30. ^ Friedman, Thomas L. (13 December 2011). "Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir". The New York Times. 
  31. ^ Lezard, Nicholas (3 July 2010). "The Punishment of Gaza by Gideon Levy". The Guardian. 
  32. ^ Gideon Lévy : une épine dans le flanc d'Israël Le Monde, 4 September 2006 (French)
  33. ^ a b "Problems at Israel's Haaretz: A Newspaper Without a Country". Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  34. ^ Yemini, Ben Dror (15 October 2010). "ברון תעשיית השקרים". Maariv (in Hebrew). Translation available at
  35. ^ Amnon Dankner, Maariv, 1 May 2002, quoted in Gaby Weiman, "Ten Dilemmas of Journalism in Days of Terror"
  36. ^ מרכוס, איתמר (6 May 2009). "גיבורי הפלסטינים: גדעון לוי, עמירה הס, ודני רובינשטיין" (in Hebrew). Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  37. ^ פרסום ראשון: כ"ה תמוז תשס"ח, 28/07/08 16:00דלית הלוי. "השראה לתעמולת חמאס: גדעון לוי". Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  38. ^ אירועי תקשורת Israel Democracy Institute (Hebrew)
  39. ^ a b Irit Linur's letter (quotation) News First Class (Hebrew)
    [a]Translation: it is a person's right to be a radical leftist, and publish a newspaper in accordance with this world view... However Haaretz reached a stage where its anti-Zionism turns too frequently to silly and mean journalism. Original:
    זכותו של אדם להיות שמאלני-רדיקלי, ולהוציא עיתון בהתאם להשקפת עולמו... אבל "הארץ" הגיע לשלב בו האנטי-ציונות שלו הופכת לעתים קרובות מדי לעיתונות מטופשת ומרושעת.
    [b]Translation: When Gideon Levy accuses Israel of turning Marwan Barghouti from a peace seeker to an impresario of suicide bombings, it is as logical an interpretation, just as the claim that the wave of attacks on the 11 September were a plot by the Mossad. In a private conversation with him, he told me one time that he would not travel a hundred meters to save the life of a settler, and it seems to me that his loves and hates have been long tainting his heart-rending reports from the occupied Palestinian territories. Original:
    כשגדעון לוי מאשים את ישראל בהפיכתו של מרואן ברגותי משוחר שלום לאמרגן פיגועי התאבדות, זו פרשנות הגיונית, ממש כמו הטענה שגל הפיגועים ב-11 בספטמבר הוא מזימה של המוסד. בשיחה פרטית איתו, אמר לי פעם שהוא לא היה נוסע מאה מטר כדי להציל את חייו של מתנחל, ונראה לי שאהבותיו ושנאותיו מכתימות כבר מזמן את דיווחיו הנוגעים ללב מהשטחים הפלשתינים הכבושים.
  40. ^ Translation:Furthermore, and maybe this also does not have to be noted, his whole career is touched with unseriousness, since he is one of the few journalists for Arab matters in the world who does not speak Arabic, does not understand Arabic and does not read Arabic. He gets a simultaneous translation, and that's enough. For me, that is amateur journalism.
    כמו כן, ואולי גם את זה לא צריך לציין, כל הקריירה שלו נגועה בחלטוריזם, מכיוון שהוא אחד הכתבים היחידים בעולם לעניינים ערביים, שלא יודע ערבית, לא מבין ערבית ולא קורא ערבית. מתרגמים לו סימולטנית, וזה מספיק. לטעמי, זו עיתונות חובבנית.
  41. ^ Levy himself confirmed in an interview in 2002 that he does not speak Arabic. See Interview with Gideon Levy (in Hebrew) Archived October 17, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ שכניק, רז (16 January 2009). "עד מתי אוקטובר 65'" (in Hebrew). מוסף "7 לילות" של "ידיעות אחרונות". 
  43. ^ Open Letter to Gideon Levy, Haaretz
  44. ^ Fraser, Giles (6 August 2014). "The movement that dare not speak its name in Israel". Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  45. ^ "Laureates 2003: Gideon Levy and Daoud Kuttab"
  46. ^ "Four journalists win the Second Euro-Mediterranean Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue"
  47. ^ "2012 Awards". The International Media Awards. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  48. ^ "Gideon Levy receives Peace Through Media Award 2012". YouTube. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 

External links[edit]