Unpacking Israeli History

Unpacking Israeli History

Go behind the scenes of Israeli history with self-confessed history nerd Noam Weissman. Each week, he 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.

41 mins

By January 1993, the Israelis and the Palestinians had opened secret negotiations, culminating in the Oslo Accords, a series of agreements between Israel and the PLO, as the representatives of the Palestinians. So, what was Oslo? What is its legacy? How did the Israeli public, including the settlement leadership, view Oslo? What about the Palestinians? And, what lessons can we learn from this haunting story?

37 mins

The story of Sabra and Shatila is a horrifying one. A paramilitary Lebanese group massacres between 800 and 2,000 refugees, many in horrifying ways. And oddly…Israel is blamed for this awful, awful crime? This week, Noam will break down the confusing and upsetting story of Sabra and Shatila, and in doing so, will ask, how does a nation deal with power and responsibility?

29 mins

A tension between Israeli and diaspora Jewry has been obvious since the founding of the state. And nowhere was that more apparent than in the epic exchanges between philanthropist Jacob Blaustein and Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. In this episode, Noam shows how their debate both animated and clarified so much about the divide between Diaspora Jewish leadership and Israeli Jewish leadership – even today.

Unpacking Israeli History about German reparations: https://jewishunpacked.com/the-great-debate-around-german-reparations/

Unpacking Israeli History about Entebbe: https://jewishunpacked.com/operation-thunderbolt-the-raid-on-entebbe/

Unpacking Israeli History about Operation Solomon: https://jewishunpacked.com/ingathering-of-exiles-from-ethiopia-to-israel/

31 mins

The modern country of Israel is a country of immigrants, and many are Mizrahi, ie Jews from North Africa and the Middle East. They came, often running for their lives, from countries like Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, and Syria, where they had lived — and often, been oppressed. In this episode, Noam confronts the difficult history of the Mizrahi integration into Israel, and the formation of the Panterim Shchorim movement that emerged from that painful period.

28 mins

Begin and Ben Gurion had some epics battles, but one of the biggest ones happened in 1952, as these two Israeli giants battled about whether to take German reparations after the Holocaust. In this episode, Noam looks all the way back at this crazy story, and leaves us asking, who was right?

28 mins

On Nov 10, 1975, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 3379, determining that Zionism is “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” That’s quite a loaded description! In this episode, Noam Weissman breaks down what led to this infamous resolution, the UN’s relationship with Israel, and what it still means to us, almost 50 years later.

38 mins

Have you heard about Israel’s secret nuclear weapons in Dimona? Yeah, we haven’t either. In this episode, Noam digs deep into how Israel’s not-so-secret nuclear program came to be, and asks, does the nuclear program make Israel safer?

31 mins

You might have heard of the Beta Israel, the community of Israel’s Ethiopian community. In this episode, Noam Weissman tells their story – not only their rich Jewish heritage and history, but also the story of how they got to Israel, in Operation Solomon, and their integration into Israeli society over the last thirty years. It’s thrilling, inspiring, but also complicated, and difficult at times. In other words, it’s a microcosm of the entire state of Israel, and the Jewish community the world over.

32 mins

When Air France Flight 139 took off from Tel Aviv on the morning of June 27th, 1976, no one could have suspected that the soon-to-be-hijacked flight was about to lead to one of the world’s most daring and risky rescue missions. In the first episode of season two, Noam Weissman unpacked Operation Thunderbolt, Israel’s successful secret operation to rescue the passengers, and asks, does this story have enduring lessons for us today?

5 mins

The news coming out of Israel is scaring and confusing all of us. Is Sheikh Jarrah a housing dispute, or something bigger? Who is responsible for the protests and riots all over the country? Why are thousands of rockets being launched, and what does it mean for the region? What is going on??

Here at Unpacking Israeli History, we’re here to make sense of the present by exploring the past. Our goal is always to explore the questions of Israeli history — to really get to know the stories, including the confusing grey areas, and to make meaning of the present. To be transparent, and give the real context to the complicated, messy world of Israel, which has a few warts perhaps, but is also full of wonders. Only with that nuanced approach will we really understand Israeli history, and only when we understand that history will we be able to understand the very textured Israeli present.

Subscribe to this podcast


Bronze Level
Alan Fisher and Barbara Sommer
Jon and Rachie Teller

Individual Episodes
Operation Entebbe – Marci and Alex S. Kaufman

Friend Level
Dorit Naftalin & Harry Nelson

Individual Episodes
Deir Yassin – Maytal and David Shainberg
Rabin Assasination – Dr. Neil and Pam Weissman
Hebrew Language – Jack and Ellen Kahan Zager in honor of Ala and Yoske (z”l) Brosh