“The criticism Netanyahu received from former President Bill Clinton that evening made Netanyahu so mad that he asked his aides to request that the White House issue a statement distancing itself from Clinton's statements.”—via.
The apocalyptic shouts of Gideon Levy
Most journalists, especially those that work in war zones, are tourists. They come, observe and have the luxury of walking away. And although that’s the same for reporters in Israel, the distance between ‘here’ and ‘there’ is much less.
Gideon Levy is a writer who understands and lives in that emotional distance. Working for the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz (which has an English language edition). Levy’s columns attempt to pierce the complacency he sees in Israeli society.
He’s seen by many as an extremist who focuses exclusively on the plight of Palestinians, but more often he provides insightful critiques of the Israeli experience.
This is on display in a piece on the Israeli Environment Protection Agencies banning of leaf blowers.
I loved them, but apparently most Israelis thought otherwise. The Environmental Protection Ministry declared this nothing less than a “revolution” - the leaf blower revolution. The Arab world is deposing rulers and we are deposing the leaf blower. Now they will inundate the streets with thousands of African sanitation workers, who will sweep our streets in a hush and clean up after us ever so quietly with their wretched brooms of twigs, these sub-contracted workers, who earn the very minimum of the minimum wage and do not receive any social benefits or health insurance. But what’s important is that our rest is not disturbed and our tranquility is preserved, no matter the cost.
He has an ear for the historical and an eye for the people at the heart of any story. Most of his writing has an apocalyptic tone that would not sit comfortably in North American or European newspapers.
When the earthquake hit Japan, Levy wrote about the mood in Tokyo. He elegantly conveys the sense coming disaster by contrasting the feeling of uneasiness in the Japanese capital with the masses of bodies piling up in the villages.
At the Hadaya sushi restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo’s entertainment district, diners merely glanced at the screen and went back to their meals. Not far away, in the villages of the north, hundreds of bodies were still being collected and half a million people were homeless, spending another night in a rescue facility, while the radioactive cloud threatened. But here, in Tokyo, they sit eating squid on a bed of rice. An outsider cannot understand it.
Still, Tokyo trembled yesterday, almost as much as during the huge quake, and great sadness ran through the relatively empty streets. Older residents said they could not remember ever seeing Shibuya so empty and dark at night; young people said they’d never seen so little traffic in the business district during the day.
Levy often says that he feels he’s writing for the historical records and not for his countrymen, most of whom disagree with him.
This brings to mind the old adage about journalism; it is the first draft of history.
More than any other reporter I know of, Levy’s work makes it feel like he truly understands the weight of that burden.
I was lucky to be able to interview Levy last year when he came to Canada to promote his book about Operation Cast Lead. If you’re interested in his work, he writes both columns and news pieces regularly and he’s also one of the central figures in the New Yorker’s excellent profile of Haaretz.