Jonny Gould brings you insightful authors, presidential advisors and ambassadors, iconic artists and award-winning actors to tell their stories on Israel and the Jewish diaspora.
89: Julie Burchill: "Without Jewish people, we'd all be sitting in caves grunting"
I enjoyed two hours over lunch in the company of one of Britain’s most successful and certainly most irreverent writers.
I met Julie Burchill at one of her favourite places on the Sussex coast - in Hove, actually, her home town for the last 27 years.
Julie started her glittering writing career at the NME in 1976, aged 17 and left when she was 19 as she thought that people in their twenties who still wrote about music were ‘sad old men'.
Since then she’s had number one best-selling novels, won an Emmy and been condemned in the House of Commons. Now, in her sixties, she proclaims she’s in glorious decline - but still a cracking little scribbler.
And there’s another consistent dimension to her writings. She’s always loved Jews and Israel.
For a while she learned modern Hebrew at night class and even joined a synagogue.
We got together to promote her brand-new substack page, www.julieburchill.substack.com and in particular her new novella, the Judgement of Solomons, the story of an unlikely Aliyah between an Israeli and his second wife, a non-Jewish woman with the son from his first marriage hanging around.
But the story has an extraordinary raison d’être, stay tuned to find what that is.
Then our conversation moved onto the themes of her brilliant book, Unchosen, an autobiography through the prism of her long held philosemitic views.
There’s also the why and when she quit cocaine, we lift the lid on what motivates her prolific writing career and why Israelis are turned on by the raw sex appeal of the Birmingham accent!
Stay tuned for a lovely conversation practicing her three favourite hobbies. luncheon, Modern Hebrew and spite.
Jonny Gould’s Jewish State is supported by UK Toremet.
88: Jonathan Freedland: The Escape Artist, Rudolf Vrba. The teenage Jew who escaped Auschwitz
Only four Jewish prisoners ever escaped the vicious SS guards, their ferocious dogs, rows of tall electrified fences and men on watchtowers wielding automatic weapons of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
But Walter Rosenberg, just 19-years-old used knowledge, cunning and patience to do what no Jew had done before. He and Alfred Wetzler, in his early twenties, escaped from Auschwitz.
But Walter, later to become Rudolf Vrba, hasn't been legendized like others who emerged from what became known as the Holocaust. Until now.
Because his audacious breakout with Fred saved the lives of 200,000 Jews, mostly from Budapest.
They revealed Europe’s depraved undertaking to destroy its Jews - and warn those yet to be uprooted - Hungary’s Jews - of their inevitable destruction - if they got on trains bound for “new lives in the east” as they were told.
Even if those in power had known about the mass extermination of the Jews for sometime, their vivid Auschwitz attracted mass media and exerted political pressure.
And Rudi had something else which marked him out, being young and fit was one thing, but he also had an extraordinary capacity for memory: counting and record keeping in his head.
It enabled him to write a comprehensive 32 page report with Fred to reveal the precise hell they’d come from.
The media was alerted and it ended up in the hands of Churchill, Roosevelt and the Pope.
This is the life story of Rudolf Vrba, The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland.
This is a special interview as I've been friends with Jonny for 40 years and we talk about a few other parts of our friendship too.
Jonny Gould's Jewish State podcast is supported by Dangoor Education.
You can buy The Escape Artist right here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Artist-Broke-Auschwitz-World/dp/1529369045
87: Ukraine: Kharkiv's Jews humanitarian crisis: Rabbi Mendel Moskowitz
Our guest today is a Rabbi raised in Kharkiv, Ukraine from the age of 6 months, it’s pretty much all he’s known.
Rabbi Mendel Moskovitz moved there with his parents as a baby as his family serve as Chabad emissaries to rebuild Jewish life in Kharkiv, following the fall of Communism.
Graduating as a rabbi in Sydney, Australia, Rabbi Moskovitz returned home with his wife, Chani.
There he raised three children, and served as a Rabbi to Ukrainian youth for 7 years, until war changed everything.
Now he is ambassador to The Jewish Relief Network Ukraine.
He highlights acute Jewish suffering to the world and raising funds for the incredible work being done by Chabad to provide vital humanitarian relief.
JRNU is the umbrella organization for operations in Ukraine, providing food, medicine and medical care, housing and even security.
Donate now at www.JRNU.org
Through 48 regional coordinators and staff on the ground in 35 cities, JRNU is serving people too frail to flee, those who are otherwise unable to flee, and those who refuse to leave behind a husband, child, father or other loved one.
Without a working economy, unemployment is at an astronomical rate and tens of thousands of people rely on JRNU each week for basic necessities.
By donating at jrnu.org or by following the link in the podcast description, you can send desperately needed money to support ongoing work in Ukraine.
If you run a community, please think about magnifying JRNU’s voice in the to reach more caring and concerned individuals who may support the work of Rabbi Moskovitz and the Chabad efforts in Ukraine, who could even come and talk in your community.
Donate now www.JRNU.org
86: Douglas Murray: The War On The West: how to prevail in the age of unreason
Our guest today is Douglas Murray, best-selling author of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity and Islam and The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity - and now he’s back with The War On The West, how to prevail in the age of unreason.
All the narratives and norms, the assumptions which underpin our understanding of the societies in the West we grew up in are under attack - from within.
Much of it is being fought through just one single prism, race.
He examines how Western civilisation and its achievements in culture, science medicine and free thought, not to mention how these were hard fought for and won, are being challenged by universities, corporations, broadcasters and the church, in what looks like a wilful self-immolation.
And these anti-Western attacks also go after Jews and Israel.
But what’s the purpose of it? When will this debt be paid off by Western nations and their biggest populations? What’s the end game - and what are the consequences? Is this how civilisations come to an end?
What do we do? And if some of these progressive arguments prevail, can we all continue to live together in tolerance?
Before you pack your bags, let Douglas present his arguments!
Jonny Gould’s Jewish State is brought to you with UK Toremet, Promoting Philanthropy.
85: Ambassador Ron Dermer and Ed Husain: The first steps on the road to the Abraham Accords
Ambassador Ron Dermer and Ed Husain addressed a live audience for StandWithUs UK, which I hosted in Central London.
These two friends were instrumental in creating the pathway which led eventually to the Abraham Accords.
This was no ordinary occasion and I won’t forget posing the questions, just as those in attendance will remember being there.
We talk about Israel’s relationships with Russia, the Jews in Ukraine even Russian coordination in Syria over Israel’s security issues.
Then there’s Iran and the JCPOA nuclear treaty, BDS and diaspora Jewry, Jeremy Corbyn and a growing theme of Jonny Gould‘s Jewish State: the relationship between Islam and Judaism and how it can bind people in a region where religion is so important.
Sit back and enjoy a gripping conversation with two of the world’s most well-informed people on the biggest diplomatic breakthrough of our age.
84: Len Khodorkovsky: from Ukrainian refugee to the US State Department, an American story.
Len Khodorkovsky is an American story.
The same story repeated through generations of Jewish history.
This one comes from today’s Ukraine where in 1981, young Len and his refusenik parents and grandparents fled the Soviet Union bound for the USA.
The poignancy of this is, of course, there’ll be another Len, barely a teenager trying to escape Ukraine as we speak - destination unknown - just heading west.
Len served at the US State Department as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Public Affairs. He was also a Senior Advisor to the US Special Representative for Iran and the Chief Marketing Officer of America’s economic diplomacy.
It was his two decades as an advertising executive which led to this extraordinary period.
And it’s this creative approach which he says gave the Trump administration a greater dynamic to problem-solve than the more conservative, risk averse diplomatic column.
He holds up the Abraham Accords as a prime example of that dynamism.
Our conversation is rich in life experience, anecdotes and takeaways.
LISTEN to how he’s returning to media to produce a lasting legacy for the Accords with a new TV channel called Yalla.
Always top quality guests and chat
Jonny’s guests and discussions are always fascinating, informative and very thoughtful provoking.
Always learn a lot from these podcasts , thanks and keep up the great work
Diverse interesting informative enjoyable
Don’t miss the opportunity to seize the opportunity to listen to these amazing interviews by Johnny Gould. 24.5.21
Having read Tuvia Tenenbom ‘s latest book “ The Taming of the Jew” ( highly recommended) this podcast interview is a perfect listen. Or listen to the podcast and then buy the book. By the way, the book is not just about antisemitism in the U.K. There’s theatre, BREXIT food and Diet Coke in abundance.