26.12.2016 23:39

Israeli man who supports Palestinians? Yes, he exists.

Autor: Anastasia Kriushenko | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Gideon Levy, an Israeli national, has been labeled as a traitor who poses a "security risk" according to his own government and is considered a Hamas supporter by his fellow citizens. Despite such critical accusations, he is the recipient of the Peace Through Media Award in London, among numerous other awards and recognitions in the press. The Independent Newspaper described him as "the most heroic Israeli journalist", and the New York Times hailed him "a powerful liberal voice".

Autor: Připravily: Lucie Hillová, Karolína Víchová a Anastasia Kriushenko All rights reserved • Studentská televize Masarykovy Univerzity MuniTV

Recently he came to the Czech Republic. One of the destinations he visited was the Faculty of Social Sciences, where I study. When I saw the ad of his lecture the decision was made immediately, I will be there! More than that, I have managed to interview him before the lecture which was an honor for me and indeed an amazing experience.


His message was easy and complicated at the same time. “The Israeli occupation must come to its end.” What does it mean? We have to know the history a bit to understand it. Everything started in 1947-1948 when Palestine, that existed from 1920 till 1948 under British administration, became a Jewish State of Israel. It happened thanks to the United Nations vote on the partition plan on November 30, 1947 and several civil wars that took place at that time. After the WWI there were two nations in one state – Arabs and Jews, after creation of a new state Palestinian Arabs lost their territory and weren’t welcomed anymore. Nearly 700,000 of them were displaced and many cities were destroyed as a result of civil wars during this short period of changes. They rather fled or were expelled and became Palestinian refugees with no homeland to return. Meanwhile, Jews suffered as well, approximately the same number of Jews from Europe, but mainly from Arab and Muslim states, were expelled so they found a shelter in the newly established Jewish State of Israel. Though the most visible difference in attitude to this dramatic geopolitical change we can find in the way people call the Palestine War, Jews call it “War of Liberation” and the Palestinians - Al-Nakba or “Catastrophe”.


Territories that are still populated by Arabs are occupied by Israeli army forces. There are two territories that we continually hear about in the news – the Gaza Strip and the West bank. The Gaza Strip, claimed by the State of Palestine, is ruled by Hamas (recognized as a terrorist organization by the Czech Republic). Because of the everlasting uncertainty and frequent armed conflicts on the borders, civilians live in a constant fear of shelling and bombing with drones flying above their heads. “The occupation of Palestine lasts for nearly 50 years, it violates morality and the international law, justice itself. As it happened in South Africa, world have to say its word and stop the apartheid system same as the Israeli occupation,” says Mr. Levy. It is not only the occupation that humiliates Palestinians, when we concentrate on the West Bank there are many similarities between apartheid in South Africa and the Israeli one. A control over the territory is divided, part of it belongs to Palestinian authorities and another one to Israeli government. Anyway, status of Palestinians is very crummy everywhere.


When I told Mr. Levy that it is necessary to see also the other side of the conflict, as any of them are black and white, especially in terms of war, he disagreed. He strongly believes that “who commits the main crimes” and who “is the strong one” is responsible for all that happens. “Of course there is a small minority in Israel who is fighting the occupation, who is devoted, who goes to protest, who refuse to serve in the army, who is ready to pay solidarity with the suffer of Palestinian people but it is really a small number. Groups like “Breaking the Silence”, which is a group of Israeli soldiers, who after their service want to speak out and to tell about the crimes they have committed.” Unfortunately, though, these few groups cannot shout down the voice of mainstream media and the voice of Israeli government. “In general the atmosphere in Israel is becoming more and more racist and nationalistic and honestly I don’t see any hope for a change”


In this atmosphere of hate, it could be really dangerous to speak out and support the minority. Nevertheless, Mr. Levy experienced both hatred attacks and admiration. “I didn’t face any censorship in Israel. My newspaper (where Mr. Levy works) backs and supports me. Finally, it is a democracy for Jewish citizens. I can raise my voice and nobody can stop me. However, sometimes it is very hard for me to walk in the streets of Tel Aviv or other cities because people recognize me and express very negative reactions. There were harder times when I had to be accompanied by bodyguards; several years ago my car was shot by soldiers although they didn’t know who was inside. Despite of all this I have full freedom of speech.”


Even during the lecture after our interview, we felt a tension in the air. It took place in a peaceful Brno at the university, far away from the Middle East conflict, but still, when Palestinians and Israeli citizens, who came to listen Mr. Levy’s talk, started a discussion on this topic, Czechs were stunned how strong is the hate and misunderstanding on both sides.

Klíčová slova: Gideon Levy, Israel, Palestine, conflict, interview, feature story, Israeli occupation, FSS, lecture, Middle East, Israeli journalist, Gaza Strip, West Bank



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