Haaretz reporter Gideon Levy, one of Israel’s finest investigators of the occupation, is interviewed by In These Times and reveals once again why his voice is central to highlighting Israel’s moral decline:
How did you get from there to where you are now: a journalist famous for ferociously speaking out for Palestinian human rights and a Palestinian state totally free of Israeli occupation?
It was a gradual process. There was no single incident involved. I didn’t suddenly see the light. When I first started covering the West Bank for Haaretz, I was young and brainwashed. My “journalism school” was the Israeli Army Radio Station, which was not the kind of place to learn the truth about the occupation. 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. I had failed to make that connection.
Why do Israeli journalists shy away from writing about the day-to-day repression that is an inextricable part of the occupation?
It’s all about self-censorship. Journalists do not want to write critically of the occupation because readers do not want to read about it, and publishers and editors want to keep their readers happy. Since no one is really that interested in the abuses, they don’t get written about. Journalists are also part of the whole machinery of denial and justification and the closing of eyes that includes telling lies and collaborating with lies.
Some Israelis criticize you for writing the same kinds of stories about abuses over and over again.
That’s right. They don’t ask why the abuses continue to happen, they ask why I continue to write about them.