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.

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S3
E10
42 mins

On the night before Shavuot, 1981, Prime Minister Menachem Begin shocked his cabinet by announcing they would be launching a surprise attack on a nuclear reactor in Iraq, known as Osirak. It was a gamble, one that the outside world, not to mention in Israel itself, most people didn’t approve of. In this episode, Noam takes us on a tour of Begin’s decision, the aftermath, and how it still impacts Israel today.

S3
E9
50 mins

It doesn’t sound like a particularly spicy question, does it? Because the obvious answer is… “Israelis.” Case closed, next question. But in this episode, Noam breaks down why Haredim, a massive force in Israel, don’t serve. He goes through the history and asks, how does this choice impact the country?

S3
E8
47 mins

The relationship between Jews and their host countries, for the past several thousand years, is complicated. And Iraq is no exception. While Jews have lived there for thousands of years, today, virtually no Jews are left in the country. This week’s episode tells that story, through the lens of the Farhud, the devastating 1941 massacre in which Iraqis murdered, raped, mutilated, looted, and destroyed Baghdad’s Jewish community.

S3
E7
42 mins

You may have heard about the first Gulf War – basically the entire world vs. Saddam Hussein. But though 34 countries – 34! – entered the alliance against Iraq, Israel didn’t. So why on earth did missiles begin to rain down on Israel? In this episode, Noam breaks down how the 1991 Gulf War affected ordinary Israelis, tested the US-Israel relationship, and even challenged the long-held Zionist ethos.

S3
E6
39 mins

Qibya is one of the saddest and most difficult events in Israeli history. A military unit enters a village, and when the raid is over, 43 homes had been demolished, and 69 civilians – mostly women and children – had been killed. This week, Noam asks, what happened here, and how does it impact the story we tell ourselves about Israel?

S3
E5
35 mins

It’s 1916 and World War I is raging. Countries are fighting for resources, land and power and the Ottoman Empire is on its deathbed. With all eyes on the Empire’s Middle Eastern territory, who will decide who gets control over what will become Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and parts of Saudi Arabia? In this episode, Noam explores the secretive Sykes-Picot Agreement and the fallout it caused at the San Remo Conference.

S3
E4
36 mins

How much do you know about the Mossad, Israel’s legendary intelligence agency? In this episode, Noam regales three wild stories about the Mossad that seem like they’re straight out of a movie. Welcome to the world of international espionage.

S3
E3
33 mins

Prior to the Holocaust, the 1903 pogrom in Kishinev (now Moldova) was the most infamous occurrence of Jewish suffering in the Diaspora. In this episode, Noam explores the many myths that surround the massacre and how it inspired Theodor Herzl to propose the controversial Uganda Plan.

S3
E1
34 mins

Editor’s note: Unpacking Israeli History podcast is back by popular demand for its third series! The third season will cover the Hebron massacre of 1929, the expulsion of Jews from Iraq in the 1940s, the Kastner Trial and Holocaust survivors in Israel, IDF service and the ultra-Orthodox, the trauma of the Kishinev pogroms and some of the daring overt – and covert – missions of Israel’s defense forces and counterespionage units.

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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