Gideon Levy, 2011
|Born||1953 (age 62–63)
Tel Aviv, Israel
|Education||M.A. Political Science, Tel Aviv University|
Gideon Levy (Hebrew: גדעון לוי; born 1953) is an Israeli journalist and author. Levy writes opinion pieces and a weekly column for the newspaper Haaretz that often focus on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Levy has won prizes for his articles on human rights in the Israeli occupied territories, and has been hailed as an "heroic journalist". His critics characterize him as left wing and accuse him of being a propagandist for Hamas.
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, the 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 ran aground at Tel-Aviv's Frischman Beach. 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. Levy attended Public School Alef. He and his younger brother Rafi would often sing together, notably songs composed by Haim Hefer. During the Six-Day War, the street adjacent to his home was hit by Arab artillery. 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."
Levy resides in the Ramat Aviv neighborhood of Tel Aviv, on a site that was, before 1948, part of the Palestinian Arab village of Sheikh Munis. He is a divorced father of two. He says his sons do not share his politics and do not read anything he writes.
Journalism and media career
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. Despite his coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict, he speaks no Arabic. 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. 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, 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. "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.
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.
Views and opinions
Levy defines himself as a "patriotic Israeli". 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". 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. "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.
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."
Levy wrote that the 2008–09 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.
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."
Levy supports boycotting Israel, saying it is "the Israeli patriot's final refuge". Levy has said that economic boycott is more important, but that he also supports academic and cultural boycott.
He has been subject to death threats.
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, the Anna Lindh Foundation Journalism Award in 2008 for an article he wrote about Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces, and the Peace Through Media Award in 2012. He has been described as "a powerful liberal voice" by The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and praised by Johann Hari of The Independent as "the heroic Israeli journalist". 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." He has been profiled in Le Monde and Der Spiegel. "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.
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. Ben-Dror Yemini, the editor of the opinion page of Maariv, called Levy one of the "propagandists for the Hamas". 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...." In 2008, Arutz Sheva reported that Levy's article about the Jerusalem bulldozer attack was translated into Arabic for a Hamas website. 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.
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. "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. She also accused Levy of amateurism because he does not speak Arabic.
Other public figures also cancelled their subscriptions, including Roni Daniel, the military and security correspondent for Israeli Channel 2. Levy himself joked that there is a thick file of anti-Levy cancellations in the Haaretz newsroom.
In 2013 Levy published an article about what he views as a disgraceful attitude towards African asylum seekers in Israel. In considering the reasons for this attitude he wrote "This time the issue is not security, Israel’s state religion. Nor are still talking about a flood of refugees, because the border with Egypt has been closed. So the only explanation for this disgraceful treatment lies in the national psyche. The migrants’ color is the problem. A million immigrants from Russia, a third of them non-Jews, some of whom were also found to have a degree of alcohol and crime in their blood, were not a problem. Tens of thousands of Africans are the ultimate threat." Levy's remarks about Russians produced accusations of racism from such as Eddie Zhensker, executive director of the Russian advocacy NGO Morashtenu, who accused Levy of "brute and coarse prejudices",. Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver demanded that Levy be placed on trial. Levy later apologised to those who were offended, but claimed that the real problem was that he had called Russian "immigrants" instead of "olim" and compared them to Africans.
In February 2016, after Levy criticized Israel Labor Party its Secretary General, Yehiel Bar, wrote in Haaretz that Levy is a Trojan horse. Bar wrote "Sad, that Levy who used to be a moral compass, became a broken compass: at all time, with no connection to circumstances or reality, Levy's compass points negative, points despair, points irrelevant" and added that Levy regards Palestinians as uneducated children who are exempted of any responsibility to their actions.
- Twilight Zone – Life and Death under the Israeli Occupation. 1988–2003. Tel Aviv: Babel Press, 2004 ISBN 978-965-512-062-2, OCLC 646289069
- The Punishment of Gaza, Verso Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84467-601-9
- 2003: Leipzig Media Award
- 2007: Euro-Med Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue
- 5 May 2012: Peace Through Media Award at the eighth annual International Media Awards
- 7 January 2016: Olof Palme Prize, shared with Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb, for their "fight against occupation and violence"
- "Johann Hari: Will Gaza, like Iraq, descend into civil war?". The Independent. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Levy, Gideon. העיתונאי מחפש משמעות [Journalist's Search for Meaning] (in Hebrew). HaAyin HaShevi'it. Retrieved 17 September 2014.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.
- Yemini, Ben Dror (17 January 2009). סרסורי מצפון [Conscience pimps] (in Hebrew). nrg Maariv. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
- גיבורי הפלסטינים: גדעון לוי, עמירה הס, ודני רובינשטיין [Palestinian Heroes: Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, and Danny Rubinstein] (in Hebrew). Arutz Sheva. 6 May 2001. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
- Gideon Levy (22 June 2013). "A stranger in an ancestral home: Gideon Levy searches for his roots in the Czech Republic". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Johann Hari (24 September 2010). "Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic". The Independent. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Gideon Levy (4 August 2013). "The last passenger". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Levy, Gideon (19 April 2012). "Israel must remember the Holocaust's refugees, forever changed". Haaretz. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Levy, Gideon (10 April 2009). בוא שיר עברי | שני שיבר ושליש ירכתיים [Come sing Hebrew | Two kept and a third below deck]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 30 January 2010.
- Gideon Levy (10 April 2009). אזור הדמדומים | 100 בהיסטוריה [Twilight Zone | 100 in history]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Matt Brown (11 June 2007). "Six Day War prompts reflection in Middle East". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Levy, Gideon (6 August 2009). "From Sheikh Jarrah to Sheikh Munis". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
Somewhere, perhaps in a refugee camp in terrible poverty, lives the family of the farmer who plowed the land where my house now stands."
- לקסיקון אנציקלופדי לתקשורת ועיתונות – גדעון לוי [Encyclopedic Lexicon Communications and Journalism – Gideon Levy] (in Hebrew). HaAyin HaShevi'it. 26 February 2008. Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
- Eva L. Weiss (18 March 2005). "A Literary Hot Spot Celebrates a Birthday". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Robert Hirschfield (4 September 2009). "Israel's Gadfly". In These Times. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Andrew Pugh (29 June 2011). "Gideon Levy backs Johann Hari in plagiarism row". Press Gazette. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Jewish Chronicle interview: Gideon Levy". The Jewish Chronicle. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Gideon Levy (18 November 2007). "What do you mean when you say 'no'?". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Stephen Glain (24 September 2007). "Ha'aretz, Israel's Liberal Beacon". The Nation. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Gideon Levy (25 November 2007). "Demands of a thief". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Gideon Levy (2 February 2014). "Who's afraid of a binational state?". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Interview by ICAHD Finland (2 February 2014). "Gideon Levy: One state solution vs. two state solution". ICAHD Finland. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- Gideon Levy (22 January 2009). "Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Gideon Levy (14 July 2013). "The Israeli patriot's final refuge: boycott". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Interview by ICAHD Finland (2 February 2014). "What led you to change your mind regarding BDS?". ICAHD Finland. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- 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.
- 'Meanwhile, Gideon Levy receives a death threat,' Haaretz 11 January 2015
- "1996: Gideon Levy, Haaretz Journalist". Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Gideon Levy wins Anna Lindh Journalistic Prize for his exceptional writings on the challenges of the region". Anna Lindh Foundation. 27 July 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Haaretz's Gideon Levy wins Peace Through Media Award". Haaretz. 2 April 2008. Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Friedman, Thomas L. (14 December 2011). "Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir". The New York Times. p. A35. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Lezard, Nicholas (3 July 2010). "The Punishment of Gaza by Gideon Levy". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Gideon Lévy : une épine dans le flanc d'Israël". Le Monde (in French). 4 September 2006. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Christoph Schult (31 December 2008). "Problems at Israel's Haaretz: Newspaper Without a Country". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Levy, Gideon; Yemini, Ben Dror (15 October 2010). ברון תעשיית השקרים [Baron of the Falsehood Industry] (in Hebrew). nrg Maariv. Retrieved 17 September 2014. Translation available at "Baron of the Falsehood Industry". CAMERA.
- Amnon Dankner, Maariv, 1 May 2002, quoted in Gaby Weiman, "Ten Dilemmas of Journalism in Days of Terror"
- Dalit Halevy (28 July 2008). "השראה לתעמולת חמאס: גדעון לוי" [Inspiration of Hamas propaganda: Gideon Levy]. Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- אירועי תקשורת (in Hebrew). Israel Democracy Institute.[dead link]
- עירית לינור מאשימה את עיתון הארץ בנקיטת עירית לינור מאשימה את עיתון הארץ בנקיטת עמדה אנטי-ציונית [Irit Linur Accuses newspaper Haaretz of taking anti-zionist stance] (in Hebrew). News1. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
[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 11 September were a plot by 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- שכניק, רז (16 January 2009). "עד מתי אוקטובר 65'" (in Hebrew). מוסף "7 לילות" של "ידיעות אחרונות".
- A. B. Yehoshua (16 January 2009). "Open Letter to Gideon Levy". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Fraser, Giles (6 August 2014). "The movement that dare not speak its name in Israel". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- Gideon Levy (23 December 2013). "The migrants aren't the problem—Israel's racism is". Haaretz.
- Eddie Zhensker (January 2014). "Dissapointed by Gideon Levy".
- Gideon Levy (26 December 2013). "Blood, crime, Russian immigrants and racism; an apology". Haaretz.
- "Israeli Labor Party Convention Demonstrates Deception of Highest Order". Haaretz.
- "Trojan horse named Gideom Levy". Haaretz. February 2, 2016.
- "Laureates 2003: Gideon Levy and Daoud Kuttab". Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Four journalists win the Second Euro-Mediterranean Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue". Anna Lindh Foundation. 15 January 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "2012 Awards". International Media Awards. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Gideon Levy receives Peace Through Media Award 2012". YouTube. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- MEE contributor Gideon Levy wins international human rights prize. Middle East Eye, 7 January 2016
- "Divergent Israeli Views: Interview with Gideon Levy". PBS. March 2003.
- Selection of articles by Levy
- "Gideon Levy". Center for Lecturers of Israel.
- A. B. Yehoshua (16 January 2009). "Open Letter to Gideon Levy". Haaretz.
- Gideon Levy (18 January 2009). "Gideon Levy / An open response to A.B. Yehoshua". Haaretz.
- Am Johal (19 September 2010). "Interview with Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy". World Press Review.
- Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?. Interview by Johann Hari, The Independent, 24 September 2010