Here are all the ‘Unpacking Israeli History’ episodes in chronological order

"Unpacking Israeli History" is back with Season 6. Brush up on your Israeli history by listening to past episodes.

Our popular podcast “Unpacking Israeli History” is back with Season 6. While you wait for new episodes to drop, you can brush up on your Israeli history by listening to past episodes in chronological order.

Each week, host Noam Weissman offers a fresh perspective on some of the most controversial and interesting events in the country’s history.

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about what Israel is all about — from multiple angles and viewpoints — this is the podcast for you.

Click on an episode title below to listen:

Hebrew: A dead language revived

  • 1890: This episode uncovers the revival of Hebrew, highlighting the nationwide movement that brought the ancient language back to daily life in Israel.

The Dreyfus Affair 

  • 1894: This episode delves into the Dreyfus affair, an 1890s French espionage trial that catalyzed the chain of events culminating in Israel’s founding, underscoring persistent questions about Jewish identity and antisemitism.

Herzl and the non-promised land

  • 1897: This episode explores the Uganda Plan, an early Zionist proposal for a Jewish homeland in East Africa, reflecting the movement’s urgent response to the rampant antisemitism of the era.

Hatikvah: The story behind the anthem

  • 1886-1933: This episode dissects the origins and controversies of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, questioning how it rose to prominence despite opposition from figures like Theodor Herzl and exploring the possibilities of its future evolution.

Kishinev: Auschwitz before Auschwitz

  • 1903: This episode examines the 1903 Kishinev pogrom, a pivotal moment of Jewish suffering in the diaspora, and how it influenced Theodor Herzl to propose the Uganda Plan, stirring significant controversy within the Zionist movement.

​​Heroes, hurdles and early Israel’s foundations

  • Early 1900s: This episode delves into the formative years before Israel’s establishment, profiling three influential figures whose legacies helped shape the Israeli identity long before the state’s official birth in 1948.

Did a secret 1916 treaty between the U.K. and France create the state of Israel?

  • 1916: This episode uncovers the secretive Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, set against the backdrop of World War I and the decline of the Ottoman Empire. It details the decisions that shaped the modern Middle East and the ensuing consequences at the San Remo Conference.

The Balfour Declaration: 67 words that changed the world

  • 1917: This episode explores the origins and enduring controversy of the Balfour Declaration, a 67-word letter by a British foreign minister that has significantly influenced the foundation and perception of the state of Israel for more than 100 years.

The Hebron Massacre

  • 1929: This episode probes the 1929 Hebron massacre, uncovering how this tragedy fueled the Arab-Israeli conflict, melded religious fervor with nationalism, and united Jewish factions.

The Nazi-fueled pogrom in Iraq that led to the Jews leaving the country

  • 1941: This episode explores the history of Jews in Iraq, climaxing with the tragic Farhud massacre of 1941 when Baghdad’s Jewish community faced brutal violence. This marked a turning point that led to the community’s eventual disappearance from the country.

Black Saturday: How far would you go for a homeland?

  • 1946: This episode examines the fierce struggle for Israeli independence, spotlighting the covert operations, defiance of colonial rule, and internal conflicts that culminated in Black Saturday.

The rift: Israel’s civil war – Israel at 75 Part 1

  • 1947: This episode examines the intense conflict from November 1947 to May 1948 that set the stage for Israel’s independence, highlighting key battles and decisions leading to the founding of the state.

The Lamed Hey: Convoy of 35 – Israel at 75 Part 2

  • 1948: This episode tells the tale of the Etzion bloc in 1948, where a small Jewish community faced Arab hostilities. It highlights the heroism and tragedy of the “Convoy of 35” who attempted a treacherous supply mission through enemy territory to support these isolated kibbutzim.

Deir Yassin: The battle for truth

  • 1948: This episode delves into the contentious events that took place on April 9, 1948, in the small Arab village of Deir Yassin. It explores the enduring impact of this day on Israeli history and its lasting significance amidst countless conflicts.

The Hope: finally, independence – Israel at 75 Part 3

  • 1948: This episode examines the pivotal events of Spring 1948 in Palestine, the departure of the British, and the fierce internal and external conflicts that influenced Israel’s Declaration of Independence and its evolving national identity.

The Altalena: Israel’s (almost) civil war

  • 1948: This episode dissects a near-civil war in Israel only a month post-independence, with David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin at odds.

Does Israel represent all Jews? The great debate

  • 1950: This episode explores the historic debates between philanthropist Jacob Blaustein and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, shedding light on the persistent divide between Diaspora Jewish leadership and Israeli governance.

The great debate around German Reparations

  • 1952: This episode revisits the intense clash between Menachem Begin and David Ben-Gurion over whether to accept German reparations post-Holocaust in 1952, exploring the conflict and its impact on Israeli society.

 The Qibya massacre: The difference between deterrence and vengeance

  • 1953: This episode delves into the tragic events of the Qibya raid where an Israeli military operation led to the demolition of 43 homes and the loss of 69 civilian lives, predominantly women and children, and how this influenced Israel’s national narrative.

The Kastner Trial: Why a Jew who saved many was put on trial for working with the Nazis

  • 1954: This episode explores the paradoxical legacy of Rudolf Kasztner as both a traitor and a hero. It challenges listeners to consider the morality of judging actions taken in the face of the Holocaust’s horrors.

Kfar Qassem: A wound that still bleeds

  • 1956: This episode uncovers the somber history of Kfar Qassem. On the eve of the Suez crisis in 1956, a grave decision by an IDF commander led to the loss of 49 Israeli lives, leaving an indelible mark on Israel’s Arab community.

Dimona: Israel’s “secret” nuclear option

  • 1956: This episode investigates Israel’s secret nuclear program in Dimona, including its origins and impact on Israel’s security.

Eichmann: the controversy of justice

  • 1960: This episode delves into the Mossad’s dramatic abduction of Nazi Adolf Eichmann and the global controversy it sparked, including the ethical dilemmas surrounding his trial and execution by Israel.

The story of Israel’s Black Panthers

  • 1971: This episode delves into the challenges faced by Mizrahi Jews immigrating from North Africa and the Middle East to Israel, their integration struggles, and the rise of the Black Panthers movement in response to social inequities.

Munich Olympics: When terrorism won

  • 1972: This episode tells the tragic story of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre that killed 11 Israeli athletes, exploring the broader implications of terrorism in shaping international conflicts.

The Mossad: Three tales of assassination

  • 1973, 1977, 1997: This episode delves into the world of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, through three astonishing tales that showcase the high-stakes realm of international espionage.

The Yom Kippur War: A national catastrophe

  • 1973: This episode dissects the Yom Kippur War of 1973. It explores why Israel, despite prior alerts, was unprepared for the surprise attack, the role of the U.S., and how the conflict ultimately fortified Israel’s ties with the U.S. and Egypt.

The beginning of the Yom Kippur War (Part 1)

  • 1973: This episode delves into the Yom Kippur War’s origins, early clashes, and lasting effects on Israel, focusing on the country’s unpreparedness and response to the first day’s surprise attacks.

Who by fire: The Yom Kippur War (Part 2)

  • 1973: This episode delves into the Yom Kippur War’s key moments of loss and victory and the enduring consequences for Israel.

Halls of Power: The Yom Kippur War (Part 3)

  • 1973: This episode examines the Yom Kippur War’s broader impacts and its enduring legacy.

Ma’alot: 30 seconds that devastated a nation

  • 1974: This episode discusses the Ma’alot massacre of 1974 where a school field trip turned tragic due to a Palestinian terrorist attack, resulting in horror and loss, but also stories of courage and resilience.

Is Zionism…racism? UN Resolution 3379

  • 1975: This episode tells the story of U.N. General Assembly’s Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism. It explores the history of the U.N.’s stance on Israel and the resolution’s lasting impact decades later.

Operation Thunderbolt: The raid on Entebbe

  • 1977: This episode explores Operation Thunderbolt, the Israeli mission that rescued passengers from the hijacked Air France flight 139, and the enduring lessons from this bold and perilous mission.

Sadat’s leap: Israel’s historic peace breakthrough

  • 1977: This episode recounts the historic day of November 19, 1977, when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat arrived in Jerusalem — a visit that signaled the beginning of a new era of peace in the Middle East.

How Iraq’s nuclear program forged Israel’s “Begin Doctrine”

  • 1981: This episode discusses Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s controversial decision to launch a surprise attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, including international reactions and its enduring impact on Israel’s foreign policy.

Sabra and Shatila: What happened and why it matters

  • 1982: This episode examines the Sabra and Shatila massacre, where hundreds of refugees were killed by a Lebanese paramilitary group. It explores Israel’s controversial role and the broader implications of national responsibility and power.

Shadows of justice: The Demjanjuk Trial

  • 1986: This episode examines the controversial trial of John Demjanjuk, an Ohio resident who was deported to Israel to face allegations of being a notorious SS guard.

Should Israel ransom captured citizens?

  • 1986, 1994, 2004, 2006: This episode examines Israel’s policy of exchanging large numbers of prisoners for the return of captured soldiers, focusing on the case of Gilad Shalit.

Ingathering of exiles: From Ethiopia to Israel

  • 1980-1991: This episode explores the saga of the Beta Israel, Ethiopia’s Jewish community, covering their profound heritage, immigration to Israel, and complex integration into Israeli society.

The First Intifada: A grassroots movement

  • 1987-1993: This episode investigates the First Intifada of 1987-1993, including its origins, profound effects on Arab-Israeli relations, and lasting impact on Israel’s international standing.

Prisoners of Zion: Refuseniks and the Soviet aliyah

  • 1989-2000: This episode explores the mass immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel between 1989 and 2000, detailing the efforts of American students and Soviet dissidents in aiding their journey.

Saddam Hussein’s Gulf War legacy is still felt in Israel

  • 1991: This episode tells the story of the 1991 Gulf War, including the missile attacks on Israeli cities, the strain on the U.S.-Israel alliance, and the testing of Zionist resolve.

Oslo: The peace that wasn’t

  • 1993: This episode analyzes the Oslo Accords, the pivotal agreements between Israel and the PLO. It delves into the details of the negotiations, the public and political reactions, and Oslo’s enduring legacy and lessons.

Baruch Goldstein: Legacy of a massacre

  • 1994: This episode examines the Purim 1994 Hebron massacre, where Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshippers, prompting global condemnation.

The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

  • 1995: This episode delves into the life and legacy of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whose assassination on November 4th, 1995, marked a profound moment in Israeli and modern Jewish history.

The Second Intifada: Trauma and tragedy

  • 2001: This episode examines the Second Intifada, a crucial five-year period in the early 21st century marked by intense violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Gush Katif: When Jews expelled Jews

  • 2005: This episode explores Israel’s controversial Gaza Strip disengagement, including its historical context, the intense political and religious debates surrounding it, the resulting trauma for Israelis, and its impact on the peace process.

The battle for Sheikh Jarrah

  • 2021: This episode delves into the protracted and volatile property conflict in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, unpacking the legal saga and its explosive impact on Israeli society.

Who should serve in the Israeli military?

  • 2022: This episode examines why a significant segment of Israeli society, the Haredim, traditionally do not serve in the military and explores the implications of this exemption on the nation.

Hamas, explained (updated)

  • 2023: This updated episode delves into Hamas’ history, ideology, and the long-term impact of their October 2023 attack on Israel.

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