Gideon Levy is among a small group of Israeli journalists giving a face and a voice to Palestinians in

the world's most intractable conflict.

The award-winning columnist for Ha'aretz writes of the despair that he says fuels Palestinian terrorism.

His focus on such issues as internally displaced Palestinians and unarmed civilians cut down in Israeli

security operations, as well as his calls for generosity and direct talks with Hamas as an alternative to

force, are denounced as much as they're applauded in readers' responses on the newspaper's website.

On Monday, Levy launches a cross-Canada speaking tour at McGill University. It is sponsored by

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, a non-profit group that says it seeks "more

balanced" Canadian policies on Middle East issues.

Levy, who recently published The Punishment of Gaza (Verso), spoke to The Gazette this week from

Tel Aviv about what has driven him to tackle such controversial issues in his 28 years with the


"I took it upon myself many years ago to try to cover the Israeli occupation for the Israeli reader who

does not know and does not want to know what is taking place in our backyard."

He says he wanted to counter efforts to "dehumanize Palestinians as much as possible in order to

maintain a very brutal and cruel occupation, and to keep us feeling good about ourselves."

At least readers of Ha'aretz can't claim ignorance, he said.

Gaza, which troops and Israelis in four settlements left in August 2005, remains a "prison" with the

guards outside the walls maintaining a blockade, Levy said.

He expressed skepticism that any concrete progress will result from current peace talks with

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in part because Hamas is excluded.

Although Hamas, which is dedicated to Israel's destruction, is partly to blame, Levy said he can't

understand how it is legitimate for Israeli officials to negotiate with Hamas over the fate of one person -

kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit -but not "over the fate of two peoples."

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy looks beyond Palestinian menace Page 1 of 2 18/09/2010

"If we really mean to get to a solution, we have to include all the partners," he said.

Though it's better to talk than to shoot, he said he has little hope that Israel will be ready to compromise

for the sake of a viable peace.

The danger, he warned, is that when expectations are raised but not realized, terrible consequences

can follow, as with the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000 following the collapse of the

Camp David peace effort.

"Goodwill (must) be demonstrated by deeds, not by words," he said.

Gideon Levy speaks Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Leacock Auditorium of McGill University, 855

Sherbrooke St. W., Room 132. Tickets cost $15; students with ID pay $10. Call 450-812-7781; visit