Two Nice Jewish Boys
Eytan and Naor
Two Nice Jewish Boys is a weekly Israeli podcast in English. Naor and Eytan
offer you a glimpse of Israel and some of the interesting people here.
Humanity, in general, can be divided into two main groups: those who watch the news, and those who live a happy and prosperous life. But if you’re a sucker for news and politics like us, you’re doomed to cope with an endless stream of spins, fake news and manipulations, that it’s hard to sometimes really know what the hell’s going on. Fortunately there are good people who take upon them the burdensome job of fact-checking, sifting through dusty archives, watching hours upon hours of materials, in the quest for a slippery thing called The Truth. Yoav Rabinovitz, our guest today, is one of those people. By day, he’s the chief-editor of the super influential TV show “The Other Side with Guy Zohar”, which deconstructs news items and political speeches, and confronts them with the facts. And by night, Yoav takes off his suit and becomes a stand-up comedian, the wittiest tweeter in the Middle East, and a guy that can dance as if he’s the love child of Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger. 2NJB is happy to have Yoav Rabinovitz to talk about these turbulent times in Israeli politics, the justice system, and above all - why he thinks Aroma, the Israeli coffee chain, is the best place in the world. Exclusive subscription offer for podcast listeners: Get 6 months of The Forward for only $10 — that’s 67% off: forward.com/2njb
Israel recently went through a traumatic year of election cycles in which it seemed like there were no winners - only losers. But eventually, amidst all the political gunfire and smoke, a government was formed. One of the figures that emerged from that year is Michal Cotler-Wunsh. Michal is the daughter of a former Canadian Justice Minister and the former Parliamentary Secretary of Begin’s Gahal and Likud parties. So it’s no surprise that she’s risen to such prominence. Michal joined the Knesset as a member of Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party after the March elections. She recently rose to national and international headlines after leading a string of hearings of the largest social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google, questioning them on their censorship policies last month. We are very excited and very honored to be joined today by Michal Cotler-Wunsh to talk about censorship on social media, about the protests going on in Israel and about much much more!
Naor and Eytan talk about all the hot topics of September 2020. Exclusive subscription offer for podcast listeners: Get 6 months of The Forward for only $10 — that’s 67% off: forward.com/2njb
He’s been nicknamed “Europe’s Last Dictator” by much of the media. He’s been in power for over 24 years. He’s suppressed and even arrested much of his political opposition and he just prevailed through his 5th consecutive electoral win but many, if not most, question its legitimacy. Can you guess which head of state we’re talking about? Alexander Lukashenko has been the president of Belarus since 1994 and today the country seems like it might be on the brink of a revolution. Shalom Boguslavsky organizes study tours in Eastern-Europe. He writes and lectures about both Eastern Europe and Israel with a focus on geopolitics and Jewish history. We’re happy to be joined by Shalom today to talk about the situation in Belarus. (Photo by Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News ) Exclusive subscription offer for podcast listeners: Get 6 months of The Forward for only $10 — that’s 67% off: forward.com/2njb
No matter where you’re from, it’s hard to ignore what’s going on in the United States as of May. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer ignited massive protests and widespread riots across the country. Covid and an approaching election did nothing to calm the storm. When something this dramatic happens to Israel’s most powerful ally, it’s especially hard for Israelis to ignore. Unrest usually doesn’t bode well for either Israel or Jews in general. Today we’re with an old guest of the podcast, Ofir Dayan. Ofir studies at Columbia University in New York and she’s the head of SSI, which stands for Students Supporting Israel. She joins us today to talk about the unrest in the United States and about what it all means for the people who will probably end up being blamed for causing it all, the Jews. *** Exclusive subscription offer for podcast listeners: Get 6 months of The Forward for only $10 — that's 67% off: http://forward.com/2njb
What do you have in your fridge right now? Some eggs, a head of wilted lettuce, maybe a loaf of bread? How do you decide when it’s time to move on, when your food is overdue, and destined to be thrown out and replaced by fresh, shiny, new food? According to some estimations, about 30-40% of all food in the United States is being wasted, thrown to the garbage because it wasn't eaten in time. Sometimes, we even throw good food - food that’s still completely edible. And it makes you think - what if we were smarter about how we treat our old, perhaps less enticing, but still very much nutritious, food? Shai Rilov is a social entrepreneur from Haifa. He came up with an ingenious idea - take the food that people don’t want, make delicious dishes out of it, and serve it to those who can’t afford it in restaurants. That’s how Robin Food came to be, a restaurant that Shai opened in Haifa’s historic food market, Talpyiot. Shai joins us today to talk about Robin Food, and his next exciting ventures.
Two months ago, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, a subsequent economic crisis and a prime minister accused of corruption, thousands of Israelis decided to hit the streets. Gathering in Jerusalem, right next to the Prime Minister’s residence, they had one goal in mind. Benjamin Netanyahu must resign. His failure in handling the health and economic crises and his questionable legal standing means one thing - he’s gotta go. These protests continue today both in Jerusalem and across the country. Many Israelis criticize the protests for being unfocused, for exploiting global and national instability to secure political objectives and for being unruly and sometimes even violent. On the other hand, these protesters themselves claim to be the victims of both police and civilian violence. As usual, Israel ain’t a walk in the park. Joining us today is a former guest of the podcast, the journalist and activist Maya Rimer. Maya is a participation specialist and group facilitator who took part in the 2011 protests in Israel and is currently one of the voices that’s calling for change.
Naor and Eytan discuss current events.
A legendary Jewish poet once wrote: “It’s lonely at the top”. And indeed, the higher you climb in politics, the lonelier it gets. And when you’re the Prime Minister of Israel - which some might argue is the most difficult job in the world - and you need to decide whether or not to attack Iran, you can listen to smart people, sure, but no one will be there when you make the final decision. No one but you. And still, even prime ministers can’t do everything by themselves. They must surround themselves with dedicated, smart and excellent people who will help them, say what they think from time to time, and most of all will be there when they are needed. Topaz Luk was only 22 years old when he got a phone call from the Prime Minister of Israel. He was freshly out of Dover Tzahal, the luxurious “IDF Spokesman” unit, where he specialized in social media and helped the IDF revolutionize its online presence. Not long after, he found himself working with Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the most influential, historic - but also controversial - leaders in the history of our young country. More than five years and a gazillion political campaigns later - Topaz is still the Prime Minister’s new media consultant, and one of his most devoted and closest advisors. We’re thrilled to have Topaz on the show today to talk about these turbulent times in Israel, his work with the Prime Minister, his world views and much more.
Most people don’t hang flags above their beds. But Ariel Karlinsky isn’t most people. Above his bed, throughout his childhood and well into high school, Ariel hung the red flag of the Soviet Union - its yellow sickle and hammer watching over him every night. Until one bright day he decided to take it down, fold it up and tuck it away, along with his strong beliefs in the Communist system. Ariel Karlinsky is an Economist at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative think tank dedicated to (quote) “secure Israel's future as the nation-state of the Jewish people, to strengthen representative democracy, and to broaden individual liberty and free-market principles in Israel.” Ariel joins us today to talk about how a communist became a capitalist.
6,744 miles. That’s the distance between Israel and America. Together, the two countries are home for 90% of Jewry around the globe. But while in Israel Jewish identity is obvious to almost everyone, from the moment they are born to the moment they punch their ticket - in America, things are a bit different. As the years progress, some young Jewish Americans feel more and more detached from their Jewish identity. Some are only half Jewish, or quarter Jewish, some don’t even know about their Jewish roots. It is feared, therefore, that within a few generations, not much will be left of the American Jewish, non-haredi community. To battle this possibility, an initiative named Birthright was established in 1999. The idea was simple - bringing young Jews from all around the world to Israel, so that they can understand their roots, get to know the country, and hopefully, fall in love. Since then, more than 750K people participated in the project, 75% of which are Americans and Canadians. It was a wild success. But now, as Corona emerged in our life, the future of the entire operation is being put to the test. So what does the future hold for Birthright? And did the project achieve any actual results? To answer these questions, we have Gidi Mark on the show today. Gidi is the CEO of Taglit. He started his career as a diplomat, and he served the country of Israel in many embassies, including Istanbul, Bonn and New York. He’s been serving as CEO since 2008, and let is to impressive success. We’re happy to be joined by Gidi Mark to discuss Birthright, American Jewry, and much more.
Naor and Eytan talk about everything that's been going on in Israel lately.
July 1st was a date some Israelis were looking forward to. For the past few months, most Israelis have been speaking about one thing, (well, except for corona) - Annexation. Aka instilling Israeli law in much of the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria. Since the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel conquered the area - Israeli citizens have been living there in settlements under military rule. Annexation would change that permanently, and settlers would cease to be settlers. They would be living, de facto, in the State of Israel. Of course, in Israel, nothing’s ever that simple. This plan split the country in two - those who prayed for annexation, and those who dreaded it. Uri Zaki is a political activist, a member of the Meretz party, one of Israel’s more left-wing parties. He is the founder of “The Front for the Protection of Democracy”, an organisation that strives to be (quote) “the assaultive tool in the struggle for the Israeli democracy”. Uri is also the partner of MK Tamar Zandberg, who we had the please of hosting on the podcast - check out episode 34. We’re happy to be joined by Uri Zaki to discuss the Deal of the Century, democracy in Israel - and much more!
Israel is one of the youngest democracies on the face of the planet. If you turn on the news here in Israel, or a reality TV show for that matter, even if you just go out to buy a carton of milk at the supermarket, you’re bound to hear people arguing. Everyone here has a strong opinion and they’re not afraid to share it. Right-wing, left-wing, you name it. In Israel, free speech is the word. But every once in a while, someone says something that stretches the boundaries and tests the tolerance of Israelis. Today, we’re joined by someone who basically does this every time he speaks. Prof. Amir Hetsroni. From the time he said that Israel would’ve been better off without its Mizrachi Jews, who came from arab-speaking countries - and the time he engraved anti-Zionist messages on his parents’ graves, to the time he ridiculed Israel’s fallen soldiers for being “idiots who didn’t know how to avoid the draft”, Prof. Hetsroni has been involved in countless controversies and he definitely hasn’t escaped unscathed. Prof. Hetsroni previously taught communications at Ariel University, and currently teaches at Koch University in Turkey. Today we are joined by Professor Amir Hetsroni to talk about his career, his world views and an upcoming documentary film about him. So buckle up, here we go.
If you live in Tel Aviv, you simply can’t miss them. They are part of your life. When you hang out with your friends at the local bar - they’re there. When you go out for jogging - they are there. When you come home from your parents on Friday night and waiting at a red light in the entrance to Tel Aviv - they’re there. They are Tel Aviv’s saddest souls, the homeless. Yes, Tel Aviv is not Seattle nor is it San Francisco. But the city struggles with its own homeless people, asking the passersby to spare a shekel. Most of us walk right by them, don’t look, don’t care. But today we’re joined by someone who just can’t ignore them. Mor Shaal is an artist who was living in Haifa up until a year ago. When she moved to Tel Aviv, she was amazed by the amount of homeless people in the streets, and became fascinated by them. She started talking with some, and then began documenting these encounters for a project which went viral on social media. Mor Shaal joins us today to speak about her amazing work with the Street Dwellers Project.
As of today, Israel hasn’t been hit very hard by the Coronavirus, relatively speaking. The government took extreme measures early on, and managed to limit the spread of the virus and death toll. One of the unique steps taken by the Israeli government was to rent out entire hotels throughout the country, and convert them into Quarantined Hotels. The idea was simple - if you have Corona, and can’t isolate, check into the hotel, receive food and medical treatment and once you recover, you can checkout. Welcome to The Hotel Corona! Such a lovely place. Noam Shuster is a stand up comedian, a peace activist and recently, patient number 3555. When she checked into Hotel Corona in Jerusalem, nothing had prepared her for the multicultural, unforgettable experience that would unfold in the following days. We’re happy to host one of the only people in Israel who CAN’T infect us with covid19 (hopefully), Noam Shuster.
Naor and Eytan discuss recent events.
Once upon a time, in an election far far away, in April of 2019, amidst the political cacophony of right and left, one party stepped into the lime light as a possible king maker. You see here in Israel, as a small party, you can tip the scales of a coalition - and thus hold a lot of power. Zehut, or Identity, led by Moshe Feiglin was predicted to receive as much as 7 mandates. For many, Zehut is an enigma. On one hand the founder of the party Moshe Feiglin leads a libertarian approach to government and economics. He believes in lowering taxes, abolishing social security and a separation of church and state. And as an added bonus, he wants to legalize pot. On the other hand, he's a devout religious Jew who believes the Temple Mount should be under Israeli control and that the third temple is soon to be built - g-d willing. Some people adore him, others despise him, but one thing is certain. Moshe Feiglin is one of the most intriguing Israelis to hit the political stage in recent times. We are very thrilled and honored to be joined today on the podcast by Moshe Feiglin.
For many, during these times, it’s all too easy to slip into hibernation after a steady diet of Netflix, while suffering existential angst, anxiety and apathy. Anything beyond that can seem, well, just too hard. But, let’s face it. Nothingness - doing nothing - simply breeds more nothingness. So, it’s no surprise that the nation that made the desert bloom, has created a whole lot of some things out of this current Covid climate (CCC). Australian-born Israeli Achi Kushnir could be considered your typical intelligent, driven Israeli. Yet, like most Israelis, there’s nothing typical about Achi. Achi’s volunteering has led him to discover the amazing grassroots initiatives everyday Israelis have developed in helping those affected by the Coronavirus. We are thrilled to be joined today by Achi Kushnir to talk about his group Here For Good, volunteering and staying positive in trying times.
Eytan and Naor talk about everything that's happened in Israel during the last month, and much more.
Coming from a long line of musicians and artists, our guests today has been praised by the New York Times as “sensational in concert” and as a “striking virtuoso” by the Los Angeles Times. Her awards and accomplishments are way too long to list, but suffice it to say that she’s performed as a solo artist and a chamber musician at some of the world’s most renowned venues - Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Suntory Hall of Tokyo, the list goes on and on and on. She’s serving as a visiting professor at Tel Aviv University here in Israel and she has been so kind and brave as to accept our invitation and join us on the podcast today. We are thrilled to be joined by the amazing cellist, Kristina Reiko Cooper.
We could all use a good laugh. Especially now while many of us are secluded in our homes, far away from our loved ones, with nothing better to do but watch Too Hot To Handle on Netflix. True story. Don’t watch it unless you want to feel a strong, deep, unshakable sense of shame. If only there was an Israeli English speaking comedian who would agree to risk her life and come to our studio, to boost the national morale and give hope to our listeners around the world. How amazing would that be? Well, unfortunately we couldn’t find anyone like that, so that’s that for today’s episode guys, stay safe! Bye! Just kidding. We have the perfect comedian for the job right here with us. Her name is Kandi Ableson, she’s American, she made aliyah, she’s a superstar in the local comedy clubs doing stand up IN HEBREW, at least she was when going out and comedy clubs still existed. We’re delighted to have Kandi on the show with us today, and a quick disclaimer - this episode might include profanities!
We all want to be the best we can be. And of course, we want to surround ourselves with the best of the best. But this seemingly positive motive has led some people to say and do some pretty horrific things throughout history. The Greek Philosopher Plato suggested selective mating to breed a higher class of humans. In Sparta, a council of elders inspected every child to determine if he or she was fit to live. In early ancient Rome, fathers were expected to immediately kill their child if they were disabled in any way. But it’s not just ancient history. In the 19th and 20th century a new system of beliefs began to emerge - Eugenics. The idea that through selective breeding we can improve the genetic make-up of the human race. Sound familiar? But where did Eugenic thought originate? Professor Amir Teicher discusses exactly that in his new book, “Social Mendelism: Genetics and the Politics of Race in Germany, 1900-1948” Professor Teicher is an assistant professor of history at the University of Tel Aviv. His research is focused on Germany, eugenics, the development of modern biological thinking, racism and antisemitism, and the history of medicine. We are super thrilled to be joined today by Professor Amir Teicher to talk about his new book and the history of Eugenics.
Is the world overreacting to coronavirus? How has it influenced the political arena? Will a new government finally be formed or is Israel headed to a 4th round of elections? And finally, how long before life returns to normal? Tune in to the Two Nice Jewish Boys Podcast!
Hey everyone! We have a new podcast! It's called Economize Me, and here's the first episode. What forces are at play in our relationship with our wallets (and our hair)? What exactly causes us to spend money? And how does that influence the way we behave? As a student of film and television, my acquaintance with economics was... non existent. But after 4 awful haircuts (one of which was free), I found myself asking: “Why did I act so irrationally?” In an attempt to understand my own behavior, I contacted Professor Barry Schwartz of the Haas School of Business at Berkeley. Professor Schwarts has been investigating the link between economics and psychology for over 40 years. Just the man to answer my questions.
These are highly turbulent times in Israel. Not only are we facing the Corona crisis with a health system that’s more or less stuck in the 80’s, we are also in the midst of a political earthquake that’s shattering the entire Israeli political landscape as we know it. Here’s a small recap of what’s happened here in just the past few days: the Supreme Court ordered Yuli Edelstein, the head of the Knesset, to hold an election for his successor, he refused and resigned, thus causing a constitutional rift (if Israel had a constitution); Ganz, the head of the Blue and White Party, decided to cross his most loyal political partner, Yair Lapid, and against all odds join Bibi for a right-wing-orthodox government; And if nothing crazy happens (which at this point, is just like saying if nothing normal happens), it looks like Bennet, Israel’s Defence Minister, will be left out of the upcoming coalition. And that’s just the appetizer. To discuss all this sweet sweet craziness, we decided to talk to Vivian Bercovici. Vivian served as Canada’s Ambassador to Israel between 2014-2016. She’s a Lawyer, a business consultant and a columnist for several outlets including the Jerusalem Post, the National Post, and Commentary Magazine. Vivian was also brave enough to risk her life and join us today on the podcast, and for that we’re extremely thankful.
From the time of the cave-men to this day, painting has been deeply rooted in the DNA of mankind. It’s as primal as humanity itself, and can teach us much about what it means to be human. Maybe that's why millions of people visit the louvre to see the Mona Lisa, or to Rome to behold the Sistine Chapel - maybe through these works of art, they can understand themselves. Miriam Cabesa’s career has reached peaks many Israeli artists can only dream of. For the past 20 years, she's lived in NYC, devoting herself to her art. Since the 90’s Cabesa has been known as one of the most important Israeli artists. She was born in Casablanca, Morocco grew up in a kibbutz and became extremely influential, showcasing in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and various galleries in NYC and throughout the United States and even representing Israel in the Venice Biennale. Now she’s back in Israel, which gives us a rare opportunity to talk with her about her art and her life story.
It’s officially the end of the world, so we thought we’d do one last, no holds barred, all-in, episode extraordinaire! And who better to do that with that an old friend of the podcast, the man, the legend, the one who a Mako blog recently described as “pretentious, possessing an awful sense of humor, nerdy, out of his element, with a hint of personal and professional self-disappointment.”, ladies and gentlemen, Roy Iddan! Roy Iddan is a scriptwriter, he’s created and/or written many Israeli TV shows. Roy was also the production designer for the 2009 MTV show Dj & the Fro. But that’s only by day, by night, Roy is a political columnist, radio show host and even a political consultant for various campaigns. cough cough Likud cough cough Blue and White cough cough. We’re super thrilled to have Roy Iddan on the show today to talk about Corona, Politics and being on Reality TV!
Mordecai Chertoff came to Palestine in 1947 as a twenty-five-year-old, determined to make his contribution to the emerging Jewish State. Between 1947 and 1949 he was variously, local news editor, foreign news editor and war correspondent for the Palestine Post, soldier in the Haganah and resident of Jerusalem. In a series of vivid and often moving letters to his family back in the United States, Mordecai described the news of the UN vote for partition, the ongoing battles along the dangerous Jerusalem–Tel-Aviv highway and the attempts to break the siege of Jerusalem, the bombing of the Palestine Post, the declaration of the State of Israel, and, inevitably, the loss of friends. These letters have been annotated and contextualized in the book, Palestine Posts: An Eyewitness Account of the Birth of Israel, written by Modecai’s son, Daniel Chertoff. Daniel worked in the investment industry and as a senior executive in a large Israeli high tech company. Before discovering his father’s letters, he was an adviser to the World Jewish Congress and happily writing his doctoral dissertation in English literature at the Hebrew University. Daniel is an Associate Editor of Partial Answers and he joins us today on the podcast to talk about his new book, about his father and about the founding of the state of Israel.
LIVE: 2NJB Monthly Recap - Corona and Elections in Israel (third time is NOT a charm), Dem Primaries and much, much more!
Jews have always loved a good argument. From the oral teachings to the Talmud, the culture of arguing, making a point and then a counter point - is deeply rooted within the Jewish tradition. Maybe that’s the reason that in recent years, under the radar, Israel has become an international juggernaut in the debate world. The debating clubs are thriving, and in international debating competitions Israel is winning big prizes. Yoni Cohen Idov is the world debate champion for 2019. He’s a debate coach and currently works in Israel, USA and China. He joins us to discuss the art of debating, so that hopefully, we’ll be a bit better at it.
The fires this season in Australia have claimed the lives of 29 people to date. 15 Million acres of woodland have burned in Australia. Not to mention the 4.6 million acres that have burned in America and over 2 million in Brazil. It is estimated that in Australia alone, between 500 million to one billion animals have died, including approximately half of the entire Koala population. In many cases, governments are either helpless or completely uninterested in the problem. And although it is clear that 90% of the fires are caused by people, it’s not clear if there’s something that could be done to change the situation. One thing is for certain: around the world many nations are seriously struggling to preserve nature and wildlife. In 2015, Prof. Uri Shanas of Haifa University came up with a groundbreaking idea - what if private people got together to buy a big chunk of nature, and committed to preserve it. With several partners, Uri created TiME - This is My Earth, an organisation that strives to purchase and preserve 2.3% of Earth’s entire territory. We’re happy to have Prof. Shines on the podcast today to discuss the initiative.
What happened in Israel in the last month? 2NJB are here to summarize.
Recently, President Trump and his team unveiled the much awaited Deal of the Century, a plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This immediately led to a media frenzy. Several obvious opponents including the PA and the Arab League rejected the plan flat out. Others joined in their rejection claiming that it completely ignores the Palestinian side. On social media, many people shared a meme comparing the plan to the one laid out at the Oslo Accords, claiming the two to be identical. We figured, we should try and figure this out. What is actually in the plan? Is it fair? Is it feasible? Is it really the deal of the century? To help us unravel all this is a good friend of the podcast, Dr. Michael Oren. Dr. Michael Oren was Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's office, Member of Knesset in the Kulanu Party and served as the Israeli ambassador to the United States in the years 2009-2013. Oren also taught history at the Ben Gurion University and was a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown. He is the author of several books, both fiction and non-fiction, which we’ve discussed here on the podcast. We are honored to be joined by Deputy Minister Oren to discuss the so-called Deal of the Century.
The cover of Time. Many monumental figures of history have graced this much coveted magazine cover: Albert Einstein, JFK, MLK, Pope John Paul II. This year, joining these ranks is Greta Thunberg, this year’s Time Magazine Person of the Year. So much has been said and written about Greta, the 16 year-old Swedish girl who took the world by storm with her furious speeches and international Friday demonstrations. Here in Israel, Greta didn’t receive much coverage. However, many young people felt connected to Greta’s movement, and joined the environmental zeitgeist that was taking over the world. Today we’re finally going to talk about climate change, one of the most controversial topics of our time. Michael Buckland was born in Finland, and made Aliyah 2 years ago. He quickly became aware of issues like the use of plastic and air pollution in Israel, and started getting involved. Soon enough he began organizing protests and today he’s one of the leaders of a new Israeli green movement. We’re happy to have Michael Buckland on the podcast today to talk about climate change!
Sitting right across from the Cinematheque, Bodega is Tel Aviv’s newest, American-style burger joint. That’s where Todd Aarons and James Oppenheim serve kosher Philly Cheese Steaks and B.L.T.s, and everything is certifiably, mouth-wateringly delicious. Todd Aarons grew up in LA and has been a professional chef for over 20 years. He has worked in kitchens in Italy, NYC, San Francisco, LA, and Israel, and was founding executive chef of Tierra Sur in Oxnard, CA. James Oppenheim has been working in high tech for over 20 years before entering the food business. We are super excited to host Todd Aarons and James Oppenheim on the podcast today.
The Hasidic Jewish community in Melbourne, Australia is an extremely closed community - they have no access to Radio or Television, boys and girls are separated as early as 8 years old, and the Rabbi has the final say on all issues. In 2008 the community was in havoc, due to a number of girls who complained that their school principal, Malka Leifer, sexually assaulted them when they were children at the school. The school immediately bought Leifer plane tickets and she fled to Israel before facing any charges. Leifer remains in Israel to this day, as Australia’s extradition request is suspended in endless trials and legal processes. How many Malka Leifers are there in the Orthodox communities in Israel and worldwide? It’s extremely hard to know. With a clear tendency to avoid any discussion on sex or sexuality, has the Orthodox community doomed itself to simply suffer quietly, exposing the vulnerable? In the last 15 years, one man has been trying to make sure that’s not the case. His name is Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, and he’s the author of “Let’s Stay Safe!”, a children’s book about sexual safety. Yaakov has devoted his life in recent years to fighting sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. He’s now in Israel as 15 thousand copies of his book are being printed in Hebrew and distributed for free. Rabbi Horowitz is Founding Dean of a Monsey, NY Yeshiva and Director of The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES, and we’re honored to have him on the show.
(Please note: this episode was recorded before the elimination of Qassem Soleimani) The Middle East is riddled with conflict. If you watch the mainstream media in the US, you might come to think that the main showdown is between the Israelis and the Palestinians but the truth is: there is hardly a stable state in the entire region. We’ve talked a lot about Syria in past episodes so today we’re dedicating an episode to take a closer look at Yemen. Since 2015 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels drove out sitting President Hadi, civil war has claimed the lives of tens of thousands and driven millions, most of the country in fact, into a state of destitute poverty. Is this just another Saudi-Iran proxy war? What Western powers are playing a role and what role are they playing? Is there any end in sight? And ultimately, will the Middle East every see stability in our lifetimes? To answer these questions, we’re joined by Professor Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University. Professor Rabi Rabi has written a number of books in both English and Hebrew. In 2015, he published “Yemen: Revolution, Civil War, and Unification.” We are very happy to be joined by Professor Uzi Rabi today to talk about Yemen. (Photo: Almigdad Mojalli/VOA)
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Israel was founded largely by a group of Russian Jews. Ben Gurion, Moshe Sharet, David Remez, the list goes on and on. They came to Israel In the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, and were extremely influenced by Karl Marx and socialist ideas. The entire culture of Jewish Society in mandatory Palestine was socialist. If you wanted to be someone, you had to be a part Mapai, Ben Gurion’s Workers’ Party, and if you wanted a job, you had to bare the party’s famous “Red Notebook”. When Israel was founded, the socialist ideas of the founding fathers were the foundations for the country’s entire infrastructure. Every 1st of May, the entire country celebrated International Workers’ Day, and when Stalin passed in 1953 the newspapers mourned. Flash forward, 75 years later. Israel in 2020 is a thriving country, where innovation and merit are important values. But the country is more divided than ever when it comes to economic ideology, as most of the population thinks the country isn’t “social” enough, while others call for the end of what remains of the socialist system. So is Israel a social country, or a capitalist country? To clarify this daunting question, we brought Dr. Eli Cook straight from Haifa Uni. Eli is an expert for the History of Capitalism, and we’re super happy to have him here today.
Twitter. A place where you usually go when you’re in a desperate need for a good, pointless argument. Some people are drawn to this arena, like an insect to the light. And you gotta wonder - what’s the point in those endless discussions about Trump, or Bibi or Greta. No one has ever been convinced by some super witty or well articulated Tweet or Facebook comment. Right? Well, usually. Something different happened when blogger David Abitbol (aka Jewlicious) started a thread on Twitter with Megan Phelps-Roper, a daughter to a notorious family, that’s part of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas. About a week ago David sent us an email with the subject “I think we have what to talk about!”, followed by: I was recently on Good Morning America, a Steven Spielberg documentary and all kinds of fun stuff for something I did out of my shitty apartment in Machane Yehuda.” And that, dear listeners, is what we call an offer we cannot refuse. We’re super excited to have David "Jewlicious" Abitbol here with us on the podcast today.
The Western Wall. The outer wall of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. The site to which millions of Jews in Israel and around the world do a pilgrimage to pray and to place a small note with their deepest ambitions between the cracks of those ancient stones. For decades, shortly after Israel reconquered Jerusalem in 1967, women and men prayed at the wall according to traditional orthodox customs - meaning women cannot read from the Torah or wear tefillin or talit, customs of the reform movement, which barely exists in Israel. As ties between American Jewry and Israel grew stronger and more Americans began to visit Israel, and the western wall, a group of women rose up and decided to stand up for their religious freedoms. This is how Women of the Wall was born. Over the years, Women of the Wall have demanded their right to pray and worship as they wish often demonstrating and protesting the restrictions. Recently they achieved a great breakthrough. But has the fight really ended? Today we are joined by the Yochi Rappeport, Executive Director of Women of the Wall, to talk about religious freedoms in Israel.
Today we’re doing an episode about something we’ve never really talked about. Rap. So we thought, how can we introduce such a young, hip, cool concept. Naturally, we turned to The Oxford English Dictionary. The Oxford dictionary gives the word Rap a birth-year - 1541. The definition, if you’re wondering, is "to utter (esp. an oath) sharply, vigorously, or suddenly". Indeed, many words and phrases were uttered vigorously since the Rap music style started flourishing in black neighborhoods in America, in the form of Reggae in the 60’s, and hip hop in the late 70’s and 80’s. But as the years progressed, rap and hip hop evolved and have become a rich genre in mainstream music. In the last few decades, rap was mixed with every other genre imaginable. It crosses continents, cultures and languages but remains, still today, a form of musical protest and sometimes of musical rage. So today we’re here to talk about Rap music, but not just any rap music. Jewish Rap music. We’re proud to have Kosha Dillz on the show. Born as Rami Matan Even Esh, Rami grew up in Jersey to Israeli immigrant parents. He collaborated with Matisyahu, Snoop Dog, and many many more, and now he decided to make Aliyah! It gives us the thrills to be joined by the Kosha Dillz.
Let’s say you’re a 16-year old Israeli teenager who likes computers and knows how to write some code. The day comes when you get a very important envelope in the mail (not email, but your actual mailbox) - this is called Tzav Shmone - “Draft Notice number 8”, and it’ll determine your fate for the next 5 to 20 years. Now assuming your a 16 year old computer geek you know exactly where you wanna end up in the IDF - the 8200 unit, Shmoneh Mataim. 8200 is a secret-ish unit in the IDF’s intelligence division. It’s main purpose is to conduct telecommunication reconnaissance, aka sig-int or signal intelligence. In recent years, 8200 has made a name for itself as the breeding ground for some of Israel’s leading entrepreneurs. A lot of people think of it as a ticket to success in life and indeed many of it’s alumni are snatched up by high tech companies and startups right out the gate. But having been trained by the IDF in such confidential techniques, these veterans face a serious dilemma. Where do you draw the line between personal advancement and treasonous activity? Today we’re joined for the second time by Dr. Ronen Bergman who recently published a series of articles in Yedioth Aharonot about veterans of the 8200 unit working for shady companies, sometimes even working for ones that are engaged in hostile activity against the State of Israel. Dr. Ronen Bergman is a senior political and military analyst for Yedioth Aharonot and the New York Times. He’s the author of Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations and he’s been a guest lecturer at countless universities including Princeton, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge (where he received his PhD in history). We are thrilled to be joined today by Dr. Ronen Bergman to talk about the 8200 unit and its graduates.
LIVE: Panic on the streets of London, Sacha Baron Cohen speaks out against FB and Louis CK stages his unholy comeback in the Holy Land. Buckle up!
In mid October, the IDF chief of staff, Aviv Cohavi, briefed both Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on the state of Israel's security. The situation according to Cohavi, is grim. With regional stability at a low and threats of war on multiple fronts, Israel faces serious security challenges. Some pundits argue that Cohavi is simply trying to enrich the IDFs coffers. Others claim that this time it's for real. So, the question still stands: is Israel going to war? And if so, what will it look like? Joining us today is Seth Frantzman. Seth is the Oped Editor and Middle East affairs analyst at The Jerusalem Post. He has covered the war against Islamic State, three Gaza wars, the conflict in Ukraine, the refugee crises in Eastern Europe and also reported from Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Senegal, the UAE, Ukraine and Russia. We're super excited to be joined by Seth Frantzman to discuss the next Israeli war.
In a free democratic state, every person is innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to a fair trial. That seems simple enough. However, sometimes the rule of law doesn’t quite line up so perfectly with our personal sense of judgement. In 1986 a man by the name of John Demjanjuk was extradited from the Cleveland, Ohio to the Israel. Demjanjuk was accused of being Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka - a notorious guard who would torture Jewish prisoners before they entered the gas chambers at the second deadliest Nazi extermination camp. Before Demjanjuk stood trial in Israel, he needed representation. No one in Israel was willing to defend the man that most believed to be one of the cruelest perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Until Yoram Sheftel came along. Today we are joined by Yoram Sheftel to talk about the Demjanjuk case and the new Netflix documentary “The Devil Next Door”.
These are fateful days for the State of Israel. A government is still nowhere in sight, and the chances for third elections seem higher than ever, as Ganz’s opportunity to form a government ends this Wednesday at midnight. In the meantime, Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing severe criminal charges, and Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is due to submit his final decision on Netanyahu’s cases in the upcoming days. This decision, will determine, in many ways, Israel’s destiny. In recent weeks, a group of right-wingers started to demonstrate against the Prosecution and the legal system in general, in demand to drop the charges against the Prime Minister. They’re joined by central media and news personalities who are critiquing both the police and the prosecution for being dishonest and even criminal. One of those demonstrators is Dr. Gadi Taub. Gadi Taub is probably one of the most hated and despised people among Tel Aviv’s intellectual elite. The reason is simple: once, he was one of them. An eloquent left winger, a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with a PhD in American Studies from Rutgers University and all the right opinions. But alas, Dr. Taub woke up one morning and decided to “shift sides”. Now Taub publishes in-depth, highly controversial, right-wing op-eds in Haaretz, lately denouncing the Israeli justice system. We’re thrilled to have Dr. Taub on the show to talk about Netanyahu’s criminal charges and the future of the Israeli Justice System.
(Please note: this text was written by the hosts and does not represent Ya'ara Cohen's opinions) In Israel, every year, 20 women on average get murdered by a family member. It might seem a relatively small number for an American, but in a country of 9 million - it’s a LOT. The majority of these women, are - PC TRIGGER ALERT- from Arab families, but definitely not all of them. Only recently, Israeli society was shaken by a horrendous murder of a mother by her father in front of their baby - and they were, on paper, the perfectly normal “Israeli” Jewish family. In the world, Israel is known as the only democracy in the Middle East. A torch of light amidst an ocean of cultural darkness - a country of gay pride parades, innovation and enlightenment. But when it comes to women, we need to ask ourselves - is Israel a feminist country? To try and answer this, we’re joined by Ya'ara Cohen. Ya'ara is a board member at Politically Corret - "Corret" translates to “She reads”, an organization that tries to shed a feminist perspective on everyday texts which we read in the newspaper and online. We’re happy to have Ya'ara Cohen on our show.
LIVE with Anna Ahronheim of The Jerusalem Post to talk about today's hostilities between Gaza and Israel.