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Israel: Loving and Hating Yonit Levi

Yonit Levi is the beloved anchorwoman for Israel's Channel 2.  Over the past few days, however, she has become a pariah in the blogosphere for her reactions to the current crisis in Gaza, deemed as sympathetic to Palestinians.  According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, Levi was often shown on camera raising her eyebrows when mentioning the IDF, and looking sorrowful when discussing Palestine.  Her facial expressions resulted in the creation of a petition [HE] to have her removed from the air, which garnered over 35,000 in just a few short days.  The organizers of the petition have since stated that they believe their actions helped, as Levi is no longer making such expressions.  A counter-petition was also organized in support of Levi.

OneJerusalem.com reacted strongly and swiftly in Levi's favor:

In a post a while ago I discussed Fox News as an example of how low TV News Channels can take the news and the absurd of having to sell yourself as “Fair and Balanced” when that’s the last thing you ever will be. Yonit Levi is ACTUALLY fair and balanced and doesn’t need to sell it. She has been doing this for a long time and has been presenting the news in professional even tone, void of personal views and opinions.

In short, Yonit we love you ! Keep up the great work.

A fan poses with Yonit Levi
A fan poses with Yonit Levi

Israeli-Canadian blogger Lisa Goldman discusses the general media reaction from Israel, mentioning Levi's situation:

According to the polls, 90 percent of Israelis support the Gaza campaign. I find that number quite worrying: public debate and a diversity of opinion are, as Ohad notes in this post, essential characteristics of a healthy democracy; and anyone who has expressed even the mildest anti-war sentiment can testify to the intimidating responses that have, I noticed, cowed many people into silence.

The intimidation ranges from verbal violence (”traitor!” “fifth columnist”) to the threat of being fired from one’s job – as in the case of Channel 2 anchor Yonit Levi. One friend even received death threats – via Facebook, if you can believe it. Assuming, though, that all the people polled about the war know that the Israeli media’s reporting has been controlled by the army spokesman’s iron fist; and assuming that everyone polled is both well-informed about what is really going on in Gaza and unafraid to voice an opinion that deviates from what we are constantly told is the mainstream, that still leaves one person out of 10 opposing the war. In this edition, Time Out Tel Aviv gives them a voice. Below are some translated excerpts.

Creative Commons-licensed photo by YuvalH

36 comments

  • That thing with Yonit Levi was a little over blown. For some reason, people here always find something to say about her. (I guess it’s because she’s also very beautiful)

    She’s referred to sometimes as an ‘ice queen’ since she’s usually very serious, doesn’t smile to much and basically doesn’t look “warm” and “caring” when reporting the news.

    I don’t have TV at home so I only catch news when I’m at my parents. Still, I don’t think there is any basis to make a fuss about her comments or gestures. From the little I’ve seen it wasn’t THAT problematic. She did have a few comments that expressed an opinion a little, but nothing too meaningful or serious, IMHO.

    The operation does have a very big support here, mainly since the rockets been falling in Israel for years and the public became very wary and critical of the government for “abandoning” the citizens of the south instead of protecting them (until the operation).

    As I wrote before, on GlobalVoices and other places, I’m in favor of the operation as I’ve been under the rockets for a year now. However, I also feel uncomfortable when there is a public pressure to align with the consensus. Even if I’m with the majority, I think it’s essential that the atmosphere will invite discussion and not conformism.

  • mike

    At least she is a Jewish lady with a kind heart. She can see the right from wrong.

  • ali

    I am müslim and I cannot believe israel people…waaaawww…

  • civax ::.
    ~~~~~~
    “I’m in favor of the operation as I’ve been under the rockets for a year now.”

    Thanks God, burning and killing kids finally satisfied you!!.

    It’s very naive to think that this war is going to bring peace on you, but it’s great chance to see your comment, it looks that “civilized citizen” of Israhell are becoming day after day accepting Nazism tactics!!.

    How original!.

  • […] the first post, Raviv Druker reacts to the online petition posted against TV news anchor Yonit Levi in reaction to her stating an opinion while presenting the news: The petition against Yonit Levi is […]

  • Jillian – Since you have been reading my blog, you know that I belong to the 10 percent of Israelis who oppose the war (although I have hinted that I suspect the number is probably higher). The post you link to here is about last week’s edition of Time Out Tel Aviv, which was devoted to a series of articles that give a voice to Israelis who oppose the war. You chose to ignore that, and instead to highlight the section that suits your reflexively anti-Israel agenda.

    On your own blog and in the comments sections of various rabidly anti-Israel blogs, you have described Hamas’s fascist ideology and cynical use of Gazan civilians as human shields as “irrelevant.” I have seen you throw around terms like “genocide” and “massacres” in connection with Israel’s actions. I suggest you look those terms up in the dictionary. Hint: Rwanda was genocide. Srebrenica was a massacre. Gaza was a tragedy that does not fall into either category.

    Your use of jackboot terminology does you no credit; it merely ratchets up the tone of an already hysterical debate. It does not help the people of Gaza – or the people of Israel, about whom you seem to care not at all.

    On my blog, I try to show the humanity of both Palestinians and Israelis. I do not appreciate your using my writing to advance your agenda – which is one that I most emphatically do not share.

  • One more thing, Jillian: Yonit Levi has not become a “pariah.” Her colleagues stood by her – even those from the rival television station – and the pathetic initiative to have her fired has died an unmourned death. Yonit is still the most popular anchorwoman in Israel.

  • Dörte

    Lisa, I looked up “massacre” in my dictionary and it says “the cruel killing of large numbers of people, esp. those who cannot defend themselves”. Can you tell me why this is not a perfect description of “Israel’s actions”?
    By the way, a tragedy in the original sense ends with the death of the protagonists unless there is a divine intervention. That does not leave room for human responsibility, does it?
    You are right about “genocide”. Your troops could have managed that on the first day, if that had been their intention.

  • Lisa,

    I won’t respond to your accusations, because they are in fact irrelevant to this article. This particular post about Yonit Levi is not intended to be biased; at Global Voices, we cover what bloggers are saying about a particular subject, and I did what I could with the limited material I have (most Israeli bloggers are too busy cheerleading their government to blog about Yonit Levi). Additionally, the sentence with which I introduce your blog post makes clear that you are discussing the “general media situation.” I did not use your blog post here to advance any agenda.

    Yes, I have an agenda. And yes, I am able to keep it separate from my writing here. That fact is apparent to my editors, why’s it so hard for you to grasp?

    Jillian

  • @Lisa Goldman

    Congrats on a well composed reply, Here’s what I think you got wrong:
    – I looked up the terms (genocide, massacre) in a dictionary, the definition fits… unless you’re using the IDF Contemporary Dictionary(TM). You know it’s not about the last 20 days as they keep trying to put it; it’s been going on for the last 60 years, when will people start to realize that?
    – Jillian is not anti-Israeli, even if she appears to have that sentiment, she’s pro-peace, pro-life; live, and let live… if Israelis weren’t using prohibited weapons against defenseless children I don’t think she’d have much of a problem with Israel,and that human shield BS is a charade, a big fat lie..it makes me sick.. yes Hamas are using their own children and wives and sisters and mothers as shields.. I don’t see how you can argue with that kind of twisted logic!
    – some of the people of Israel whom you accuse Jillian of not caring of, were standing on a hill near by, watching Gaza being bombed and saying that they think it should be leveled to the ground, all 1.5 million people of it… so spare me that, to them it’s nothing more than a field trip.. a paintball fight that one side using F16’s and WP isn’t not something you can defend, so don’t!

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