Episode 73 – Obama Friend or Foe: a Recap with MK Dr. Michael Oren


“Unshakable and unbreakable.” Those two words were used by the Obama administration to describe the special, intimate relationship between Israel and the United States. When Michael Oren found himself, almost against all odds, serving as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. in 2009, he found out sooner rather than later the these relations were, in fact, very shakable, and maybe even breakable. His impossible job was to prevent that from happening.

Promising change and peace, Obama entered the white house with a burst of optimism, and some might argue, arrogance. To Michael Oren, the Obama administration and its relations with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, shaped to be the greatest challenge of his life.

In his book titled “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide” Oren depicts the almost unimaginable chain of events that took place during his 4.5 year term as an ambassador.

Since this January marks one year to the end of the Obama era, we thought it was a good opportunity to recap, look at the Obama years from a distance, and discuss his legacy.

Michael Oren is a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s office, Member of Knesset in the Kulanu Party and he served as the Israeli ambassador to the United States in the years 2009-2013. In a previous life, Oren also taught history at the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University and was a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown. He is the author of several books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Deputy Minister Michael Oren joins us today for the second time to talk about the Obama years from an Israeli perspective.

Michael Oren’s books on Amazon, his Facebook and Twitter

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Episode 72 – #metoo and the Power to Forgive


On October 5, 2017, only a few months ago, a report published in The New York Times shook the foundations at the epicenter of America’s film and television industry – Hollywood. More than a dozen women accused the hugely successful film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, abuse and rape.

These allegations brought about a wave of accusations against prominent male figures in film and TV. It gave birth to a movement named #metoo and recently another movement named Times Up both aimed at empowering women to speak up against sexual violence and misconduct.

One year before this seismic report, there was a warning tremor. A tremor that was nonetheless seismic for the person reporting. A journalist from the Los Angeles Jewish Journal published an essay titled: “My Sexual Assault and Yours, Every Woman’s Story.” That journalist’s name is Danielle Berrin. Danielle refrained from naming names and instead conveyed her experience, her trauma and the devastation she felt from this once idolized man.

Soon it became clear that this man was the prominent Israeli journalist, Ari Shavit. Shavit apologized, begrudgingly, and stepped down from the public stage. Israel’s media world was shaken to its roots.

Danielle Berrin joins us today to talk about her story, the #metoo campaign and how, after the ashes settle, we might be able to build a better future.

Danielle Berrin on the Jewish Journal and Twitter

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Photo from Mazaki.

Episode 71: What the Hell is Going on in Poland?


I (Naor) just came back from a ten day trip in Poland. What I saw there perplexed me. On one hand, Poland is going through massive political changes in which the far right have taken control over the country. Recently, a bill was passed that gives the right wing government greater control of the Supreme Court.

Just last month, tens of thousands of anti semitic protesters marched through the streets of Warsaw shouting racist chants.

On the other hand, the Jewish community is still present and actually at its prime since WW2. One memeber of the Jewish community there is Matan Shefi. Matan decided to move to Warsaw three years ago with his wife and the two still live there today. Matan works at the Jewish Historical Institute and helps people trace their Jewish roots in Poland.

Today, Matan joins us to talk about his new home, his work and recent developments in Poland.

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Episode 70: Etgar Keret and the Art of the Short Story


Size matters. Or so, at least, we’ve been told from the moment we were born: the tallest guy gets the glory on the basketball courts at school; The longest thesis at the university class stands for the quality of research and work that was put into it; A filmmaker can make 50 short films but he’ll never make it if he hasn’t made a Feature. And then there’s literature: Ulysses, War and Peace, and even the Lord of the Rings trilogy – all stand for the concept of size as a quality stamp.

Etgar Keret’s career, however, has been proving just the opposite. For 30 years Keret has been focusing mainly on short stories, and it’s safe to say that his technique and unique style has contributed a lot to the reshaping of short storytelling as an art form.

Keret’s one of the most translated Israeli writers. His books have been translated to 37 languages. His short stories were adapted to international productions, like “Wristcutters” or the stop animation film 9.99$.

Keret has published 13 books, including short stories books, comics, graphic novels, and even children’s books. He won many awards, among which the Knight Medallion for Literature in France. His debut feature film, that he co-created with his wife Shira Geffen, was awarded the Golden Camera in the Cannes film festival. And now a new documentary film about him is being released.

Today 2NJB are deeply honored to host Etgar Keret.

Etgar Keret’s official website, his books on Amazon and his Facebook page

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Episode 69 – Haaretz Chief Editor Talks Journalism


Freedom of speech or freedom of the press has been a key ingredient of healthy democracies since, well, since healthy democracies have been around. But what does it mean to be a good Journalist? Where do we draw the lines between freedom of press and national security? How do you keep a newspaper’s ethics in check without compromising on its values?

As Israel’s leading liberal national daily newspaper, Haaretz and its journalists must struggle with these questions on a daily basis, particularly the person who runs the paper.

So, here to help us answer those questions is Aluf Benn, the editor-in-chief of Haaretz. Aluf Benn has been published in a number of international newspapers including The NYT, The Guardian and Newsweek.

He joins us today to discuss journalism.

Haaretz’s English website and Facebook page

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Episode 68 – Viral in the Valley


If you have kids, you probably know that television is dead, or at least, dying. Nowadays young adults and kids alike spend the vast majority of their free time on YouTube, binging endless hours of free content, tailored specifically to their tastes and desires.

This revolution has afforded talented people from all around the world not only the opportunity to reach huge audiences without having to go through producers and networks – but also the chance to make a living from their art.

Leigh Lahav, an Israeli-American who moved from Israel to L.A 3 years ago, is probably the most successful Israeli YouTuber out there. Her short animations, usually mash ups of shows and movies from pop culture, have accumulated millions and millions of views. She has a huge community of fans and followers, and now she’s on a journey to make it big in America.

Leigh joins us today to talk about her art, career and future endeavors.

Leigh’s YouTubeFacebook and Twitter

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Episode 67 – Middle East Break Down


The Middle East isn’t the friendliest neighborhood to grow up in, especially for Israel. With the cold peace it shares with both Egypt and Jordan to the persistent “state of war” it holds with Iraq and Iran, Israel is hard pressed to find a friend in its corner of the world. The USA is often seen as Israel’s big brother, its protector, its ever-loyal ally, but the United States lies thousands upon thousands of miles away geographically and light years culturally. So how does a country like Israel fit in in its home town? What’s its role here in the Middle East? How does a young nation forge relationships in such a harsh climate?

Here to help us understand the intricacies and intrigues of the Middle East is Barak Ravid. Barak is the chief diplomatic correspondent for Channel 10 News in Israel. Before that he served as the diplomatic correspondent at Haaretz for a decade, covering the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defense, dealing with issues such as U.S.-Israeli relations, EU-Israeli relations and the peace process.

Barak Ravid joins us today to talk about Israel’s place in the Middle East.

Barak Ravid on Facebook and Twitter

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Episode 66 – Behind Bars in Iraq


Everyone loves a good adventure. Whether you’re into climbing the highest mountains, bungee jumping from the highest bridges, or in my case – going to my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah in Delaware – a little bit of a risk can bring on a rush of adrenaline that adds that excitement we all live for.

But some people take adventure to the next level. With us today is Tamara Baraaz who happens to be that kind of person.

Tamara is a journalist who travels to the most dangerous countries in the world to tell the stories of the people who live there. Her journeys led her to east Ukraine, Chad, Central Africa, Somalia, and even Afghanistan, where she couch surfed, and Iraq, where she ended up in a prison.

Tamara joins 2NJB to tell us about the extraordinary people that she met and the places she’s seen.

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The Melting Podcast: Passport Control


We have a new podcast about aliyah and what it’s like to become an Israeli, called The Melting Podcast. Here’s the first episode!

On this episode, we speak to Ilana Vaknine, AKA La La Vak, one of Tel Aviv’s funniest sex bloggers, plus live music by Quarter to Africa.

We produced this podcast for Kan, Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation, and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. Episode 2 is already out!
Find all episodes here

Subscribe to the new podcast here:

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Episode 65 – Behind the Scenes of Binary Options


Over the last decade, in Israel, Binary Options has become a term that carries with it a heavy stigma of fraud and theft and is generally associated with shady people. But it hasn’t always been like that. For a long time, for many people, it was just another sector of the financial industry which was raking in A LOT of dough. It actually provided an opportunity for many people who otherwise struggled to make a living in Israel, an opportunity to make good money, fast!

On the 23rd of March, 2016, Simona Weinglass, a reporter for the Times of Israel, wrote an expose of the Binary Options industry. In it, she described a world that thrived on deception, illegal activity, and ultimately on preying on the weak.

Since her exposé in the Times of Israel, Simona has been covering the battle against Binary Options in Israel’s Parliament. Today, the industry is well on its way to being taken down.

This episode is a rerun from a year ago (ep 14) when Simona joined us to talk about this dark industry and how she came to uncover it.

For her original exposé on the industry:
tinyurl.com/hclwtuw

And for more of Simona Weinglass:
www.facebook.com/simona.weinglass
www.timesofisrael.com/writers/ simona-weinglass/

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Episode 64 – The Man who Discovers Planets


For thousands of years astronomers have been looking up to the sky, trying to understand what the hell’s going on up there. In the last 50 years technology has led to tremendous breakthroughs, and yet, we are still very far from solving the most essential of questions: how was all this created?

Prof. Tzevi Mazeh from Tel Aviv University has been trying to find answers to these questions for over 40 years. He was a guest researcher in Harvard, and as an astronomer, Prof. Mazeh took part in many important discoveries of stars, planets and other space phenomena.

Prof. Mazeh published the book “introduction to the Theory of Relativity”, and co-edited the book “Drishat Shalom”, a collection of articles about peace and justice from a biblical perspective.

Prof. Mazeh was also the chair of the political jewish-left-wing movement “Netivot Shalom”.

Prof. Mazeh is one of the most popular lecturers in Tel Aviv University, and apart from being a leading astrophysicist, he is also an expert in the history of Astronomy. And apart from that, he has also been teaching Talmud for many years.

Prof. Mazeh joins 2NJB today to talk about his out-of-this-world career.

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Episode 63 – Candies from Heaven: Tales of a Jerusalem Boy


Jews have been longing for Jerusalem for two thousand years. But in the 19th century only a few were courageous enough, some might say crazy enough, to take everything and leave their homes to the Holy Land.

And that’s exactly what several poor Yemenite families did. They walked by foot from Sanaa to Jerusalem, only to find out that the Holy city is actually a dump.

Gil Hovav’s ancestors were one of these families, and when a few generations later, Yemenite Jew Moshe Hovav Married the granddaughter of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, reviver of the Hebrew language – Gil Hovav was the result.

Gil grew up amidst a clash of cultures, which took place in a city torn apart by wars and religion. His fascinating childhood is the subject of his autobiographical book, Candies From Heaven, which was just now released in English.

Gil is one of Israel’s greatest experts in food and food culture. Gil has been a regular guest in every Israeli household for over 20 years. He’s a pioneer of the televised cooking shows here in Israel. He’s a food journalist and author of many cooking books and some novels as well.

Gil joins us for the second time to talk about his amazing childhood in Jerusalem.

Gil’s book Candies From Heaven on Amazon

Gil’s Facebook page

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Episode 61 – Drags to Riches


A few months ago Tel Aviv celebrated Pride month with a glorious parade. This annual event has already become a tradition and attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over Israel and from across the globe to this tiny Mediterranean city.

Indeed, Tel Aviv is known as the Pride capital of the world, but that status was not bestowed upon it, but rather earned. When you come to think of it, it’s not obvious that in a religious, conservative country like Israel, such a vivacious sub-culture of LGBT would flourish. And yet, it does.

Uriel Yekutiel is maybe one of the biggest international symbols of the Israeli LGBT community. As a renowned performer, Yekutiel is tearing up the stages of Tel Aviv’s night life. As a dancer and an actor, he’s been creating viral video clips for years, and in 2015 he even danced with Bar Refaeli in a commercial. Yekutiel’s videos are young, fun and provocative.
Yekutiel also led the revolution of mizrahi-themed gay parties, and apart from that, he devotes much of his time to social causes, like the struggle against suicide in the gay community.

Uriel Yekutiel joins 2NJB to talk about his fascinating life and career.

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Uriel’s Facebook page and Instagram

Uriel’s commercial with Bar Refaeli:

Episode 60 – Let’s Talk Bibi


It can be safely said that Benjamin Netanyahu is one of the most controversial figures in Israeli politics. He’s seen by many as the savior of the Jewish people while many others consider him the antithesis to everything democratic and Israeli. He’s worshiped, he’s cursed. He’s praised and he’s ridiculed. One thing is for sure, no one is indifferent to Bibi.

It’s only fitting that such a leader would be embroiled in corruption charges for most of his political career. Most recently, the cases nicknamed cases 1000 through 4000 have intermittently surfaced in the headlines here in Israel and around the world. Cigars and champagne, German submarines, secret deals for favorable coverage, conflicts of interest, conflicts of interest, conflicts of interest.

However, Netanyahu is also held up as one of the great leaders of our time. He’s hailed for taking a hardline against some of Israel’s staunchest critics and most hostile enemies. His international diplomacy is unrivaled in the Israeli political sphere. His free market capitalism and the policies he set in motion during his tenure as Finance Minister are credited by many with restoring Israel’s economy after the Second Intifada.

So it’s about time: we need to talk about Bibi.

Lahav Harkov is the Senior Knesset Reporter and Analyst for The Jerusalem Post. She’s often invited to lecture on Israeli Government and Politics in Israel and abroad. The BBC, France 24, Sky News and many others have sought her insights about breaking news. She’s published articles in CommentaryThe New York PostTablet and Makor Rishon, just to name a few. And she was recently recognized by the JTA as the 5th-most influential person on “Jewish Twitter.”

Lahav Harkov joins us today to help tackle the man that is Bibi… not literally.

Lahav’s Twitter and FB

(Photo credit: the Kremlin)

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Refugees arriving on inflatable boats from Turkey to the Greek island Lesvos. As many as 2.000 refugees arrived every day on the island in September. Photo by Espen Rasmussen.

Two Nice Jewish Boys Episode 30 – Europe’s refugee crisis: an inside look with Maya Rimer


The Refugee crisis in Europe, though seemingly distant and even sometimes obscure, is now actually more severe and relevant than ever. Every week thousands of immigrants are rescued from the Mediterranean, as many more enter from the east by any means possible.

In Turkey millions of refugees, held back by Erdogan, await the opportunity to cross the border. As Europe is divided by the question of how to handle this influx of millions of immigrants, the situation in the refugee camps continues to worsen. But amidst this crisis there are rays of light and one of those rays are the many volunteers from all over the world who come to assist these migrants in need.

Maya Rimer recently returned from a period of 3 months working in refugee camps in Greece. Just before going back there, she came to tell 2NJB about her experience.

We also played some great music by the Wild Willows (Find them on Bandcamp too!)

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