Welcome to IsraelCast, Jewish National Fund's premier podcast where we share stories of interesting people doing fascinating work all over Israel. Join host Steven Shalowitz as he sits down with guests to discuss Israeli news, culture, history, and much more.
New episodes are released every other Wednesday. You can listen to Israel's number 1 podcast right here or make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher – simply search for IsraelCast. And while you’re at it, rate and review us so that it makes it easier for more people to find us. Happy listening!!
“Love IsraelCast podcasts! Always interesting, educational and entertaining!” - Janet E. Newman
“Really enjoy the podcasts! Thank you.” - Elyse Gelerman Ingber
“I scrolled down the list of podcasts looking at the various topics when I came to Episode 65 which was an interview with Gali, the owner of the Yehelim Boutique Hotel in Arad.
That is where we stayed for three nights this past February. It was fun to listen to. Brought back good memories.” - George Silver
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Episode 184 - In “2048: The Rejuvenated State”, Ambassador Michael Oren sets out his vision for Israel in honor of Israel's 75th Independence Day 25 years in the future. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Ambassador Michael Oren live from JNF-USA’s Global Conference to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Israel discussed in his newly-released book and the impact of the October 7 on the future of the State of Israel.
Episode 183 - Started in 2014 in the wake of ISIS’ rise to power, the Philos Project seeks to promote positive Christian engagement in the Near East by creating leaders, building community, and taking action in the spirit of the Hebraic Tradition. Primarily focused on supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East, the project also aims to strengthen the relationship between Christians and Israel. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Luke Moon, Deputy Director of the Philos Project, to discuss its creation, the history of Christians in the Near East, and the importance of discussing difficult issues.
Episode 182 - As Israel enters the ground invasion phase of its war with Gaza, public perception of Israel has fallen in the eyes of many, especially younger people who don’t have all the facts. In addition, international bodies like the United Nations and European Union have skewed pro-Arab to the detriment of Israeli lives. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Ruth Wasserman Lande, a former Israeli Knesset member, to discuss the hypocrisy of protesters supporting those whose values diametrically oppose they’re own, how Israel values Palestinian lives more than their own government, and Iran’s involvement in the attacks.
Episode 181 - While Western leaders have near-universally backed Israel in the wake of Hamas’ horrific attacks, a shocking number of people have expressed support for Hamas, levelling the same false accusations against Israel they usually do. One thing often said is that Israel is an “Apartheid State” and will compare Israel’s requirement for self-defense to South Africa. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with South African activist Olga Meshoe Washington to discuss her journey to becoming an advocate for the State of Israel, the history of Africa’s relationship with Israel and Jews, and why calling Israel apartheid is a ridiculous accusation that trivializes her people’s history.
Episode 180 - With so many voices speaking out against the Jewish State, it’s gratifying to meet an unexpected ally. Yahya Mahamid was raised by his Arab community to hate Israel and everything it stands for, but through meeting other Israelis, he learned that everything he was taught was wrong. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Mahamid to discuss his journey to supporting Israel, the backlash he faced for it in his Arab community, and his thoughts on the recent terrorist attacks and subsequent war.
Episode 179 - Hamas’ recent brutal and unprovoked attack has primarily been focused on Israel’s Gaza Envelope region. But how has this attack affected the rest of the country? Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum to discuss the current environment in Jerusalem, organizing support from the international community, and the special resilience of the Jewish people. She also discusses Hamas and the fundamentalist nature of their regime, and how this a clear battle between good and evil.
Episode 178 - In the wake of the unprecedented, unprovoked, and horrific attacks by Hamas from Gaza on civilian communities in Israel, Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Middle East expert Jonathan Schanzer, author of Gaza Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel, and Eleven Days of War, the history of Hamas and its conflict with other Palestinian factions, and the future of policymaking regarding Israel and Hamas. The two discuss Israel’s intelligence failure, Iran’s fingerprints and its Ring of Fire strategy to strangle Israel, the broader regional picture and what this may mean to the conversations with Saudi Arabia, and what to look for in the coming days and weeks, especially vis a vis the possibility of a multi-front conflict.
Episode 177 - At the height of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was at its lowest, famed poet and singer Leonard Cohen visited the country and did a series of performances that raised the spirits of a nation. Almost 50 years later, journalist and author Matti Friedman took a deep dive into Cohen’s impromptu tour with Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai, which chronicles Cohen’s encounters with soldiers during the Yom Kippur War and also delves into Cohen’s spiritual and professional crisis and reawakening. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Friedman once again to discuss his research on Leonard Cohen, Israel’s attitude during the Yom Kippur War, and the importance of Cohen’s appearance in boosting soldiers’ morale.
Episode 176 - As artificial intelligence continues to increase in popularity, everyone is figuring out how to use AI to improve lives. And Israel is no exception. For Israeli embryologist Daniella Gilboa, co-founder and CEO of fertility treatment center AIVF, AI has been used to increase the success rate of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), making it easier for women who want children to conceive. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Gilboa to discuss the IVF process, how artificial intelligence improves that process, and why the human element is still necessary.
Episode 175 - Colonel Richard Kemp is no stranger to conflict. For over 30 years, Colonel Kemp has commanded troops in hostile territory and been at the forefront of the battle against terrorism. Now, Kemp also advocates for Israel, often in places where Jew hatred runs rampant, from college campuses to news outlets. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Colonel Kemp to discuss the relationship between the British and Israeli military, his experiences advocating for Israel on college campuses, and where he thinks anti-Israel bias comes from.
Episode 174 - With over 35,000 official archeological sites, Israel’s cultural preservation is a significant undertaking. However, for a country like Israel, a beacon of cultural heritage that places an emphasis on its history and connection to the land, the monumental challenge is worth it. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Shelley-Anne Peleg, a researcher and lecturer at University of Haifa and cultural preservation specialist, on both the challenges and importance of preserving our heritage, some of her favorite historical sites in Israel, and how she discovered her passion for archaeology.
Episode 173 - For Ben M. Freeman, Jewish Pride is a movement long overdue. In his first book, Freeman discussed the need for a Jewish Pride movement similar to ones other minority groups have had. His latest book, Reclaiming our Story: The Pursuit of Jewish Pride, goes even deeper, delving into the impact of Jew-hate on Jews, the long history of internalized anti-Jewishness, and how to reclaim our identity and break the cycle. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Freeman to discuss his new book, the three types of internalized anti-Jewishness, and the perils of letting the non-Jewish world define our identity.
Episode 172 - Positively singular in its goal of making complex information about the Middle East digestible and accessible, the Alma Research and Education Center has been educating people around the world on the in-depth geo-political situations Israel faces every day, offering field briefings at various lookout posts along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Syria as well as lectures and workshops around the globe analyzing the developments in Israel’s border conflicts. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Lieutenant Colonel (Res.) Sarit Zehavi, Founder and President of the Alma Research and Education Center, on her motivation for founding Alma, reaching the broadest audience possible, and how the truth is the best weapon they have.
Episode 171 - One of Jewish National Fund-USA’s most important bridge-building projects, the Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel, is a competitive academic fellowship that invites full-time university and college faculty members to apply to participate in an all-expenses-paid academic trip to Israel. The Program links scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major institutions for the purpose of initiating exchanges and collaborations, with participants gaining a deeper awareness of the many challenges faced by the country and the creativity, spirit, and ingenuity that Israelis bring to tackling these issues. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Jody Holland, an Assistant Professor at University of Mississippi, about his experiences on the Faculty Fellowship Program, the connections he made, and Israel defied his preconceived notions.
Episode 170 - On the forefront of economic innovation, Margalit Startup City has transformed cities from Jerusalem to Haifa into thematic international innovation centers that generate thousands of new jobs, bring young people back to the city centers, and establish a startup ecosystem. One such Center, Margalit Startup City Galil, has become a groundbreaking hub for inventors, multinational developers, entrepreneurs, and academic researchers collaborating to create the next food-tech and Agri-tech startups, thanks in part to support from Jewish National Fund-USA. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Nisan Zeevi, Vice President of Margalit Startup City Galil, to discuss the rapid rise of entrepreneurship in the Galilee, how innovation can bring people together, and the rippling economic effects of creating successful startups.
Episode 169 - From blood libels in the Middle Ages to internet conspiracies about Israel, antisemitism has adapted and shifted, taking many forms throughout the course of history. Whether in Europe, Russia, or modern-day America, wherever Jews go, antisemitism and conspiracy theories follow. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Alex Ryvchin, Co Executive Chief Officer of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, to discuss his new book, The Seven Deadly Myths: Antisemitism from the Time of Christ to Kanye West, the various form of antisemitism he describes in it, and how the antisemitism he experienced shaped his worldview.
Episode 168 - When it comes to Zionist leadership, education is crucial. We need leaders who are not only knowledgeable about the importance of Israel, but capable of showing others why it matters. One of the national leaders in Zionist education for High School students, Club Z has worked to create a network of articulate activists with a commitment to Zionism who advocate for Israel and the Jewish people. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Masha Merkulova, Founder and Executive of Club Z, to discuss starting Club Z, the importance of exposing students to the realities of anti-Israel activities, and how to create the next generation of leaders.
Episode 167 - While diaspora and Israeli Jews are inextricably connected, there often seems to be a disconnect between the two groups. Masa Israel is looking to fix that. For over 15 years, Masa Israel Journey has been building bridges between diaspora and Israeli Jews through immersive international experiences in Israel for Jewish young adults, creating memories and lifelong connections for all participants. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Ofer Gutman, the CEO of Masa Israel Journey, to discuss his journey, Masa’s different programs, and the importance of fostering understanding between Jews everywhere.
Episode 166 - Shahar Azani serves as Founder and Principal at Fourth Dimension Strategies and as Senior Vice President at Jewish Broadcasting Services.
Episode 165 - Gabriel Groisman has always been a friend to Israel. The Mayor of Bel Harbour, FL from 2016-2022, he quickly established his reputation as a staunch supporter of Israel and the Jewish People through his anti-BDS legislation and outspoken criticism of antisemitism. Now in private practice, Groisman is still active in the pro-Israel community, encouraging others to be as well. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Groisman to discuss his efforts to fight antisemitism as Mayor, advice for Jewish students on college campuses, and the power of Jewish Pride.
Episode 164 - As someone who’s been fighting antisemitism since she was a child, Dr. Rachel Fish is one of the world’s foremost experts on Israel and Jew hatred. The former Executive Director of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, she recently co-founded Boundless, a think-action tank that identifies and addresses system-wide challenges preventing organizations from educating about Israel, engaging with Israel, and combating Jew-hatred. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Dr. Fish to discuss the antisemitism she faced growing up in Tennessee, Boundless’ approach to gathering and disseminating research, and the perils of social media in enflaming dangerous viewpoints.
Episode 163 - As Jews, we have a sacred obligation to protect our environment and the ocean. At least that is the perspective of Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, Founder and CEO of Tikkun Hayam (Repair the Sea), who has dedicated his career to raising awareness of environmental issues facing our water and building bridges in an effort to fix them. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Rosenthal to discuss the Jewish perspective on water, the issues facing our oceans, and Israel’s water successes and challenges.
Episode 162 - Until 2010, Israel did not have any newswires, so most media coverage of Israel came from foreign sources, from AP and Reuters to incredibly biased Palestinian news outlets. This changed with the founding of Tazpit Press Service (TPS), which today remains the only Israeli newswire agency. In its 13 years, TPS has grown exponentially, now reaching over 10 million people worldwide and distributing over 5,000 articles per year. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Amotz Eyal, Founder and CEO of TPS, to discuss his motivations behind creating TPS, its growth, and the dangers of news outlets getting international stories from one or two sources.
Episode 161 - When the Russia invasion of Ukraine resulted in the displacement of Jews from the region, Sophia Tupolev-Luz was just looking to help a few of her friends. That initial assistance has snowballed into serving over 15,000 people through co-founding The Reboot Startup Nation. Working with Israeli tech and startup companies, she and her nonprofit help find tech jobs for immigrants, making their transition to Israel easier. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Tupolev-Luz to discuss the origins of her nonprofit, the hurdles displaced immigrants face in Israel, and why it’s so important to support them.
Episode 160 - Started after the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, NGO Monitor is a globally recognized research institute promoting democratic values and good governance, working to ensure that decision makers and civil society operate in accordance with the principles of accountability, transparency, and universal human rights. Combining research and analysis with action, they have helped successfully defund over $100 million from various anti-Israel organizations in the last 10 years alone. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with NGO Monitor Vice President Olga Deutsch to discuss which NGOs are the biggest violators, how they combat that, and the importance of holding these organizations accountable.
Episode 159 - As global needs shift and a greater importance has been placed on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), the global workforce has not yet caught up to meet these needs. Even in Israel, the startup nation, there is a shortage of people with crucial engineering and science experience. Afeka Tel-Aviv Academic College of Engineering is working on fixing this through recruiting and educating students in these much-needed fields. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with host Steven Shalowitz talk to Ami Moyal, the President of Afeka Tel-Aviv Academic College of Engineering, on the importance of STEM education, his and the college’s research on speech recognition, and how to adjust education based on the current generation of students.
Episode 158 - Matthew Nouriel has always worn many hats. A drag queen who goes by the stage name “The Empress Mizrahi,” the nonbinary activist is also the Community Engagement Director at JIMENA - Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, which connects Matthew to their Iranian Jewish roots. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Matthew to discuss their journey towards coming to terms with their identities, how Middle Eastern and African Jews are not a monolith, and the importance of compassion when it comes to Israel advocacy.