Sunday March 29, 2015

Gideon Levy

A confrontation between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian during a demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Turmus Aya near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014.

A confrontation between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian during a demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Turmus Aya near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. (Credit: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Listen 27:49

Divisions come in two types where Israelis and Palestinians are concerned. Borders are forever in dispute. They have been drawn and redrawn several times over the decades, never to everyone's satisfaction, and they are routinely breached. The divisions between people and between positions, on the other hand, tend to be sharp and hard. 

In that environment, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is the most successful politician in recent history, and not surprisingly, a highly polarizing one. His controversial address to the US Congress entrenched divisions in American politics, setting Democrats all the more firmly against Republicans and widening an unusual fissure between the US and Israel.

Netanyahu went further in the run-up to last week's election in Israel. First, he vowed Palestinian statehood would not come to pass on his watch. Then on the day of the election, he exhorted Israeli Jews to get out and vote for his governing Likud Party by raising the fearful spectre of "Arabs voting in droves." 

Those tactics allowed him to come from behind and secure victory, but they drove a bigger wedge between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He backtracked in the days that followed, but while his supporters shrugged, his critics were having none of it.

Gideon Levy has been heralded by his admirers as a "heroic journalist." He has also been described as a propagandist for Hamas, and the most hated man in Israel. Mr. Levy is a columnist for the liberal Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. He regularly visits the Occupied Territories.

Levy has made it his mission to bear witness to Palestinian life there. He has won the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award, the Anna Lindh Foundation Journalism Award and the Peace Through Media Award. He has also also won the enmity of the settler movement and the Israeli right.