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Israel is a land of contradictions. Hardly any other fascinates as many as the Jewish state - be it because of its cultural diversity, its dramatic history or its religious facets. At the same time, no other country is reduced to a political conflict as much as Israel.
Two young Tel Avivians have vowed that there is another way - and launched a podcast that is as humorous and loving as the name suggests. The two former film students from Tel Aviv University called themselves "Two Nice Jewish Boys", in German: two nice Jewish boys.
spontaneous Without the claim to deliver the perfect show, the two 29-year-olds chat in typical Tel Aviv casualness with top-class guests who come naturally to the show of the two »Jewish Boys«.
The legendary actor Chaim Topol tells how he got the role of the Jewish milkman Tevje in Anatevka.
The Frankfurt-born Nobel Prize laureate Robert Aumann remembers his first years in Nazi Germany. And Israel's former ambassador in Washington looks back on the days when Benjamin Netanyahu duped then US President Barack Obama with his speech to the US Congress.
The list of interviewees already reveals something about Israel that can only be guessed from outside: the extent of Israeli chutzpah. It goes without saying that the two young hobby reporters bring the country's biggest names to their show. And, as is customary in Israel and refreshing for German listeners, there is occasionally a lack of excessive respect for authorities.
Curiosity Eytan and Naor don't ask their questions to make their guests look good. They don't want to hear an answer that looks particularly chic when printed on paper. Instead, the two Israelis enjoy themselves in the role of "two nice Jewish boys" who continue to dig until their honest curiosity is satisfied.
"We believe that there are unbelievable stories and fascinating personalities that fascinate people all over the world," says Naor of the Jüdischen Allgemeine, explaining his motivation for the podcast. "We want to give these stories to everyone in English, whether Jews or non-Jews."
The stories are always unusual.
Mention should be made of the life of Sarah Aaronsohn, the Jewish spy in the First World War and later figurehead of the Zionists, whose tragic life her biographer Gregory Wallace recounts. Or the wheelchair-sitting start-up entrepreneur Yariv Bash, who after a night of partying in Tel Aviv decided to shoot the first Israeli spacecraft at the moon.
politics But the “Two Nice Jewish Boys” can't do without politics either. The podcast is often highly political, but without slipping into ideological trench warfare. This is mainly due to Naor and Eytan, who view their country critically but lovingly and do not try to score points with foreign listeners by constantly scolding the Jewish state.
Among her guests are top left politicians like Tamar Zandberg, head of the Meretz party, or Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief of the left-liberal and always anti-government newspaper »Haaretz«, whom Eytan and Naor approach with boyish openness. Just like Lahav Harkov, parliamentary reporter for the conservative »Jerusalem Post«, and Sharren Haskel, the young hopeful of the Netanyahu party Likud.
It is the curious, in places almost naive, but always intelligent manner of the two young Tel Avivians that makes the difference. The politicians quickly realize that Eytan and Naor do not want to expose, expose and reveal. Yes, that they are much less interested in current events and the latest political intrigues than in the question: "How did you actually get into doing what you are doing today?"
Trademarks The result are stories whose denominator is the country in which they work: Israel. But their top-class guests, who have long since become the show's trademark, were not even planned at the beginning of the experiment. “We started the podcast on the spur of the moment,” Naor remembers the summer of 2016. “It was difficult for me to convince Eytan to give it a try. We didn't know about podcasts and the first idea was to chat about the past week. We realized very quickly that guests are essential for this. It is you who attract the listeners. "
For two years now, the two 29-year-olds have met almost weekly to record their podcast, the 111 episodes of which can now be heard free of charge on Spotify, Soundcloud and other audio platforms. They are supported by the »Jewish Journal« from Los Angeles, for example, but also by loyal listeners who, thanks to the English language, come from dozens of countries.
There is no end in sight for the podcast. At least not until Eytan and Naor can cross a very special guest off their list. Because when asked who the dream guest of the "Two Nice Jewish Boys" would be, the answer comes like a shot: "Bibi!"
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