GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN
He has been shot at by Israeli soldiers, threatened with being "beaten to a pulp" by fellow Israelis and branded a "security risk" by Israeli politicians. All of this because Gideon Levy has done something very few other Israelis have dared to do: for three decades, he has travelled to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to report what he sees on the ground.
His column, which appears in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, documents the lives of regular Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Levy says most Israelis live in a "bubble" - unaware of the brutalities committed by their own security forces against Palestinians.
Israeli media is largely complicit, he argues, because it fails to challenge the narrative that casts Palestinians as nothing more than enemies of Israel. Levy tries to pierce that bubble with his reporting. He writes about Palestinians with humanity, clearly documenting their daily plight.
One of Levy's earliest columns recounted the story of Fayzeh Abu Dahouk. When the pregnant Palestinian woman went into labour, her brother-in-law tried to take her to the hospital. Israeli soldiers at two separate checkpoints refused to allow them to pass.
Abu Dahouk delivered her baby in the back seat of her brother-in-law’s car, then walked two kilometres to reach a hospital. By the time she did, her newborn son was sick and weak. The following day, her baby died.
Over the years, Levy's stories have helped to expose how Israeli soldiers act with impunity towards Palestinian citizens. Some Israelis see Levy as a hero, shedding crucial light on the disturbing consequences of the occupation. Others denounce him as a propagandist for the Palestinians. His work has made him a target of those who see him as an enemy of Israel.
Levy has documented settlers' destruction of olive trees. He's witnessed the brutality faced by Palestinian residents of Hebron at the hand of Israeli security forces. He's interviewed the mothers of young Palestinian men and women killed by Israeli soldiers for peacefully protesting Israel's separation wall.
His stories force his Israeli audience to imagine themselves in the circumstances faced by their Palestinian neighbours.
Levy says he has seen it all: “Children killed. Injured people. Farms on fire. Cars and houses burnt. Shepherds whose cattle were stolen. Farmers whose lands were confiscated. And so many detainees.”
To fight Israeli aggression, Levy believes Palestinians must rise up and launch a new Intifada. It’s a controversial stance for an Israeli that has led to him being targeted by some who disagree. "Twice I've had to run from people wanting to attack me. Once in front of my home and once on the beach," Levy says.
Some of his colleagues at rival newspapers claim his work fuels anti-Semitism around the world. These days, Levy mostly writes from home, mindful of his personal safety. When he does venture outside, he often encounters abuse and hostility from his fellow Israelis.
But after more than 30 years of reporting on the atrocities committed against Palestinians, Levy is undeterred. When Haaretz began publishing an English edition, his popularity grew.
Today, millions of people outside Israel read Levy's columns online to understand the injustice Palestinians face. He believes his stories are making a difference.
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