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Yos Tarshish

Eight Podcasts to Deepen Your Understanding of Israel

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for podcasts. They’ve become a window into a world of knowledge, offering unique insights and perspectives. One area where I’ve found podcasts to be exceptionally revealing is in understanding the complexities of Israel. They go beyond the headlines, providing a nuanced, human view of what’s happening on the ground.

To share these rich resources, I’ve curated a list of eight podcasts that provide profound insights into various aspects of Israel. Whether you’re a newcomer to the subject or deeply involved, these podcasts offer fresh viewpoints and deeper understanding.

1. Israel Policy Pod from the Israel Policy Forum

The ‘Israel Policy Pod’ is more than just a weekly roundup of what’s happening in Israel. The podcast offers detailed analysis from a wide array of experts and distinguished guests, including policymakers, activists, and academics. In each episode, host Neri Zilber delves into critical issues, dissecting them in a way that’s accessible for those unfamiliar with Israeli politics, yet insightful enough to intrigue those who are more knowledgeable. This podcast does an excellent job of cutting through the noise to deliver thoughtful, nuanced perspectives on the Israeli political landscape. 

Listen to ‘Israel Policy Pod’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

2. For Heaven’s Sake from the Shalom Hartman Institute

In ‘For Heaven’s Sake,’ hosts Donniel Hartman, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Elana Stein Hain revive the Jewish tradition of rigorous and respectful debate. They examine political and social trends in Israel, the complex relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, and the wider implications of these issues for Jewish identity. This podcast is a thoughtful exploration of the significant challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Jewish world, combining deep scholarship with contemporary insight. During the past six months of upheaval in the Israeli political landscape, this podcast has been incredibly cathartic to listen to as the hosts have managed to have so many challenging conversations that cut to the core of the issues currently on the table.

Listen to ‘For Heaven’s Sake’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

3. The Promised Podcast from TLV1 Studios

‘The Promised Podcast’ is unique in its approach to discussing Israel. The hosts, a journalist, a professor, and an NGO professional, provide an insider’s view of the country they call home. The episodes range from the intricacies of Israeli politics, culture, and society, to personal narratives that highlight the nuances of living in Israel. The candid discussions create a balanced perspective, revealing why the hosts both love Israel and are sometimes driven to distraction by it.

Listen to ‘The Promised Podcast’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

4. Streetwise Hebrew from TLV1 Studios

Language is a key to culture, and ‘Streetwise Hebrew’ proves it. In this podcast, host Guy Sharett explores modern Hebrew and its slang, offering bite-sized linguistic lessons that provide insights into the Israeli psyche, society, and culture. Even for those without a background in Hebrew, this podcast is a fascinating lens through which to view and understand Israel. If you, like me, are working on your Hebrew but still can’t work out why ‘כבר’ can be used in so many different contexts, this podcast is for you!

Listen to ‘Streetwise Hebrew’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

5. Israel Story from the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Foundation

‘Israel Story’ goes off the beaten path, sharing true stories from Israel that don’t make the headlines. Hosted by Mishy Harman, this award-winning bi-weekly podcast presents a different side of Israel, focusing on extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis. The narratives range from heartwarming to heartrending, shedding light on the human experience in Israel and painting an authentic picture of the country and its people. If you’re a fan of the storytelling style of ‘This American Life’, you’ll love this podcast!

Listen to ‘Israel Story’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

6. The Times of Israel Daily Briefing

If you’re looking for a comprehensive yet concise update on the happenings in Israel, the Middle East, and the Jewish World, ‘The Times of Israel Daily Briefing’ is for you. The podcast delivers a rundown of the most important news, offering context and commentary to help listeners understand the significance of the events covered. It’s an efficient way to stay informed even on a busy schedule.

Listen to ‘The Times of Israel Daily Briefing’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

7. Unpacking Israeli History from Unpacked Media

‘Unpacking Israeli History’ is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts. Each week, host Noam Weissman takes listeners on a journey through Israeli history, shedding light on some of the most controversial and interesting events in the country’s past. His engaging storytelling and expert analysis make complex historical events accessible and intriguing, enhancing understanding of the forces that have shaped Israel.

Listen to ‘Unpacking Israeli History’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

8. Groundwork from the Alliance for Middle East Peace and the New Israel Fund

‘Groundwork’ is a testament to the courage and determination of those who refuse to accept the status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The podcast shares stories of Palestinians and Israelis working towards change, offering a unique perspective on the efforts being made to build peace and reconciliation. Hosted by Sally Abed and Dina Kraft, it provides an inspiring look into the lives of those on the front lines of change, humanising a conflict that can often seem abstract and distant.

Listen to ‘Groundwork’ on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts

In sharing these podcasts, my hope is that they bring you the same sense of connection and understanding they’ve brought me. So, grab your headphones and delve into these rich sources of information and insight.

About the Author
Yos Tarshish is the Director of Queen's Hillel in Kingston, Ontario, bringing a decade of experience in global Jewish student communities. A UK native, Yos previously served as President of both the Union of Jewish Students and the World Union of Jewish Students. Passionate about social activism and building inclusive Jewish communities, he holds a BA in Youth & Community Studies, sits on the steering committee of IPF Atid Toronto and on the board of Kingston's Beth Israel Congregation.
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