100 episodes

From Haaretz – Israel's oldest daily newspaper – a weekly podcast in English on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World, hosted by Allison Kaplan Sommer.

Haaretz Podcast Haaretz.com

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    • 4.2 • 156 Ratings

From Haaretz – Israel's oldest daily newspaper – a weekly podcast in English on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World, hosted by Allison Kaplan Sommer.

    Former PM Olmert: 'Netanyahu’s overconfidence and arrogance led to October 7'

    Former PM Olmert: 'Netanyahu’s overconfidence and arrogance led to October 7'

    In a recent op-ed in Haaretz, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right ministers of knowingly steering Israel into an all-out war.

    During a wide-ranging conversation on this week's Haaretz Podcast, Olmert tells host Allison Kaplan Sommer that for Ben-Gvir, Smotrich and Netanyahu, Gaza is only the beginning - they are aiming for "Armageddon, that will make it possible to expel many of the Palestinians in the West Bank."

    He mentions the government minister's backing of violent groups of settlers, who are beating Palestinians and looting their homes, and goes as far as saying, "A great majority of Palestinians killed in the West Bank [since October 7] were killed not necessarily for good reasons, and not by qualified Israeli security forces, but by volunteers - such as the hilltop youth."

    Olmert, who a year and a half ago lost a defamation suit filed against him by the Netanyahu family for asserting they were mentally ill, doesn't seem deterred from using strong language to describe the prime minister. Over the time that has elapsed, he believes he has "won the understanding of the vast majority of the Israeli people" that the Prime Minister's behavior points to "a nervous breakdown."

    "Nothing would have happened on October 7," Olmert says, if a different government with different priorities was in charge. "The failure starts with the overconfidence spread by the prime minister," that his "sophisticated manipulations" deterred Hamas.

    "5,000 Palestinian terrorists shook the foundations of the state of Israel because of the overconfidence and arrogance," he concludes.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 37 min
    'Israelis are rejecting Netanyahu. That doesn't mean they are embracing left-wing views'

    'Israelis are rejecting Netanyahu. That doesn't mean they are embracing left-wing views'

    You can hear the drumbeats for immediate elections in Israel in demonstrations in the streets, on highway billboards, and in the headlines. After four months of putting politics aside to focus on the war in Gaza and the northern border, Israelis - in growing numbers - are finally asking when they will be able to take their growing frustration with their current leaders to the polls.

    Politics is also in the air when it comes to the Palestinian future - as the issue over who will rule Gaza and who will decide that - heats up. And as the 2024 November election looms in the United States, Israel and Gaza has become a hot potato in the race for the White House.

    Public opinion expert and Haaretz columnist Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin joins host Allison Kaplan Sommer on this week's Haaretz Podcast to analyze the political map in each of these arenas in detail.

    Scheindlin warns against misinterpreting the consistent polls showing that Israelis are ready to rid themselves of Benjamin Netanyahu following October 7 as evidence that they oppose his wartime policies, as well as the reason for why how Hamas appears to be far more politically popular in the West Bank than they are in Gaza.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 47 min
    'This is not our first war, but it's the first war we've seen Israel's credit rating drop'

    'This is not our first war, but it's the first war we've seen Israel's credit rating drop'

    The decision by Moody's credit rating agency to downgrade Israel's rating and outlook last week was a shock to the country after decades of growth and a rosy outlook for the future as its technology-driven industries flourished.

    Haaretz economics editor and commentator David Rosenberg explains to Haaretz Podcast host Allison Kaplan Sommer why Israel received this "black mark," what it means, Israel's finance minister's "abnormal reaction" to the news and how it reflects the world's distrust of a far-right Orthodox-dominated government with an "agenda that, whatever else you might think about it, is not positive for the start-up nation phenomenon."

    The Gaza war, he suggests, marks the end of "a view that was shared by many people in the Middle East – not just by Israelis – that there was an alternative to war and terrorism and constant political upheaval. That alternative, which we've seen happening in the Gulf, especially in the United Arab Emirates, and to a degree in Saudi Arabia, was 'let's focus on economic development and creating normal middle class societies' while pushing the Palestinian problem and try to put our political troubles behind us."

    Also on the podcast, Haaretz's Washington correspondent Ben Samuels outlines the growing tensions between the Biden White House and the Israeli government over a full-on ground invasion in Rafah, where Hamas military presence remains, among 1.3 million Palestinian refugees crammed into the southern Strip.

    Will Netanyahu defy the Biden administration's concerns and forge ahead? Samuels says that as long as the White House offers carrots without sticks, he believes it will. "The warnings are falling on deaf ears because Israel understands that there aren't going to be significant consequences other than rhetorical reprimands. Until there's really some sort of conditionality on U.S. support, the warnings of the administration will be relatively ineffective."
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 38 min
    Israel's former head of military intelligence: 'If we don't offer an alternative, we'll end up with Hamas again'

    Israel's former head of military intelligence: 'If we don't offer an alternative, we'll end up with Hamas again'

    Israel's former head of military intelligence, Tamir Hayman, now the managing director of the Institute for National Security Studies, joins host Allison Kaplan Sommer on Haaretz Podcast to discuss Israel's war with Hamas and the key question: How far is Israel willing to go to bring 130-plus hostages home?

    While Hayman believes that the terms of a ceasefire are negotiable on both sides, he is skeptical that Israel's current government would release the political prisoners with blood on their hands that Hamas will demand in exchange. Therefore, "a large-scale hostage deal is not in the cards."

    Israeli political considerations, he adds, also stand in the way of what he believes is Israel's best chance: embracing the Biden administration's "American Initiative for Regional Change" which packages a ceasefire in Gaza, acceptance of the Palestinian Authority as a central civilian authority there, and Saudi normalization and regional integration.

    "It comes down to this: What is more important – the survival of the prime minister in the current government, or… whether from the atrocities of the 7th of October, the lowest point in our history, we can achieve something grand, something that will create a new horizon," Hayman asserts, stressing that Israel has the most to lose by continuing to avoid the question of what will happen in Gaza "the day after" the war.

    "If you don't give an alternative... for the population, eventually you will have chaos, and you will end up with Hamas rule," he says.

    Four months after October 7, Hayman says that the question of the failures that led to the surprise attack continue to occupy him. "There is no night that I go to sleep and I don't think about my time as head of intelligence and ask myself whether I was wrong in my assumptions regarding Hamas."
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 41 min
    Rallying for democracy, calling to free hostages: Where Israel's protest movements stand

    Rallying for democracy, calling to free hostages: Where Israel's protest movements stand

    Thousands of Israelis are back on the streets, four months after the October 7 Hamas attack and the war in Gaza halted historic demonstrations against the Netanyahu government's plan to overhaul the judiciary.

    Joining host Allison Kaplan Sommer on the Haaretz Podcast, reporter Linda Dayan explains how the protest movement has reemerged, and how wartime demonstrations differ. 

    While the current wave of protests began with vigils and rallies for the hostages' return, "as the objectives of the war got a little bit muddier [and] military casualties started to mount, we started to see that the hostages weren't coming back and that we didn't have a deal on the table to bring them back – we started to get more political anti-government protests demanding 'elections now,'" Dayan says.

    These two movements – one for bringing the hostages home and the other consisting of anti-government action – "are being held concurrently in two separate locations in Tel Aviv."

    Along with Dayan, Moran Zer Katzenstein, leader of Bonot Alternativa, the women's rights organization whose Handmaid's Tale-inspired costumes became a symbol of the pro-democracy protests last year, explains why her group has returned to the streets despite calls for unity in wartime.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 36 min
    The ugly price Israel will pay for the decision-making failures that led to October 7

    The ugly price Israel will pay for the decision-making failures that led to October 7

    On this week's Haaretz Podcast, host Allison Kaplan Sommer holds a wide-ranging conversation with Chuck Freilich, Israel's former deputy national security adviser.

    Freilich, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, discusses the numerous troubling issues arising from Israel's conflict with Hamas. He says that in the "hot atmosphere" following October 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government set problematic goals when it declared its intention to destroy Hamas as a military organization and topple it from being the governing body in Gaza.

    A deal to bring the hostages back, says Freilich, "will mean thousands of Hamas terrorists being released. And we know that a lot of them will go back and conduct terrorist operations in the future... but this is the price one pays for the decision-making failures that led to October 7. It's ugly."

    The deterioration in the relationship between Biden, "a remarkable friend to Israel" and Netanyahu, and the loss of U.S. support, is what he fears may ultimately be the most dangerous consequence of this war.

    "I think our relationship with the United States is an existential one," he says, " and the war with Hamas shows we are far more dependent on the U.S. than we ever knew."
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
156 Ratings

156 Ratings

farmforager ,

Excellent content poor sound

Though the topics and commentary is excellent, the producers should try to improve the sound quality which ranges from mediocre to very poor. (you need the sound engineer from “The Promised Podcast”)

Professor R. Hinkley ,

Alison is great

Alison Kaplan Sommer is great.

I don’t always agree with the politics here—but I nonetheless find the perspective fulfilling to listen to because I learn about this sector of the Israeli electorate and Israeli society generally. It is a pleasure to listen to and I learn a lot. All the best to the hosts and stay safe! (As I write this Israel is at war)

Leonickx ,

Great-ish

Great window into Israel politics and society by Haaretz’s smart, articulate and well-informed writers.

I like their liberal left of center standpoint but comes at cost of a perspective on Israel’s long rightward lurch.

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