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Wartime Diaries: Lihi Lapid

Season 7

Lihi Lapid is a celebrated photojournalist, columnist and best-selling author - of children's books, cookbooks and award-winning novels. She’s also married to Yair Lapid, the former Israeli Prime Minister and current Leader of the Opposition. In 2021 Lihi published Zarot, a sweeping tale that explores a complicated mother-daughter relationship, the tolls of immigration and the reality of marginalized groups within Israeli society. When it came out, it received glowing praise, especially from the notoriously harsh critics at Haaretz who called the novel, “a wonderful work written with restraint and wisdom.” And this spring, three years later and in what is an entirely different world, the English translation - On Her Own - was published by HarperCollins. We sat down to talk about October 7th, feminism, special needs, and what it’s like to have a major work of fiction - written by the former Prime Minister’s wife - come out in the middle of a war.

The end song is Hey Shketa ("Hey Quiet One") by Ivri Lider.

Photograph by Jennifer Bukovza, courtesy of Lihi Lapid.

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  • Wartime Diaries: Amira Mohammed and Ibrahim Abu Ahmad

    Arab-Israelis, or Palestinian Citizens of Israel, or Palestinian-Israelis - all these definitions are obviously complicated and personal and have hefty connotations - found themselves in a very difficult place following the attacks of October 7th. There was a lot of confusion, a lot of suspicion and mainly - a lot of fear. Any statement, any post, any tweet came under extreme scrutiny. Most people chose, therefore, to remain silent. They figured that the benefits of speaking up seemed to be dwarfed by the possible outcomes - being fired, arrested, accused of treason or support of terrorism. But Ibrahim Abu Ahmad and Amira Mohammed are not most people. They’re both peace activists who live in between the two societies: They’re Muslim and proud Palestinians, on the one hand, but they are also Israeli citizens, speak Hebrew, have many Jewish friends and either live or work in predominantly Jewish cities in the center of Israel. So when many people around them retreated into a self-imposed post-October 7th silence, they did the exact opposite: They started a podcast called “Unapologetic: The Third Narrative.” On the show they explore their complex identities, and talk to a wide range of guests - Jews, Arabs, Gazans, Israelis. The podcast has taken off, and Amira and Ibrahim have come to model a different kind of discourse, one that challenges the binary and dichotomous definitions we’re so accustomed to hearing.The end song is Bahlawan ("Acrobat") by Mira Awad.
  • Wartime Diaries: Moriah Cohen

    On Saturday, four hostages - Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov - were heroically rescued by the Israeli security forces, and safely brought home alive. Still, 120 hostages remain in Gaza - 43 of whom have already been declared dead - and the pressure to sign a deal that will bring them home is mounting from day to day. Such a deal, of course, has two sides: We tend to focus on what we stand to get, i.e. the hostages. To many, that’s really all that matters. But there are also those who emphasize the other side - what we’d be forced to give, the price we’d need to pay and the people we’d need to release. Our episode today brings us that part of the story. Moriah Cohen is 29 years old. She and her family are part of the small Jewish settlement of Shimon HaTzadik, inside the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarah in East Jerusalem. For years this neighborhood has been a focal point of legal battles, demonstrations and violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. On December 8th, 2021, Moriah was stabbed right outside her home. Her attacker was Nafoz Hamad, her next door neighbor's 14-year-old daughter. Hamad was apprehended, tried and sentenced to 12 years in prison. But then, in November 2023, as part of the prisoner swap between Israel and the Hamas that brought 80 Israeli hostages back home, she was set free. And not only was she released, Hamad moved back home, right across the street from her victim, Moriah. We visited Moriah in her home, and talked about this complicated and utterly surreal reality.Maya Thomas is our dubber.The end song is Hacheder Ha'Intimi Sheli ("My Intimate Room") by Taarovet Eskot.
  • Wartime Diaries: Amit Halivni Bar-Peled

    It’s Yom HaZikaron again, Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror. Since the start of the war, 1511 Israeli civilians and members of the armed forces have been killed. That's 1511 families who have joined the dreaded circle of grief and bereavement. 1511 families whose lives will never again be the same. Today, we share the story of one such family. A small family. One that was just starting off, really. Thirty-year-old Yuval Halivni was a reserve officer who was killed on October 9th. He left behind a wife, Amit Halivni Bar-Peled, who is a pastry chef and makes amazingly elaborate wedding cakes, and a little boy, Jon-Jon, who was less than two when his dad was killed.The end song is Hatishma Koli ("Hear My Voice") by Rivka Revivo.
  • Wartime Diaries: Tzvika Mor

    Forty-seven-year-old Tzvika Mor is from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron. His son, Eitan, was kidnapped from the Nova Festival, where he had been working as a security guard. In fact, Eitan was only kidnapped in the afternoon of October 7th, after spending nearly nine hours evacuating injured party-goers to safe locations nearby. During that whole time Eitan heroically returned to the festival grounds again and again, under fire, to save complete strangers. At around 15:30 he was himself taken by terrorists and driven into Gaza, where he’s remained ever since.  Tzvika, is an outlier among the families of the hostages. As campaigns across the country and throughout the world call upon the leaders of Israel and the Hamas to reach a deal that would release the hostages, Tzvika believes that the Israeli government should keep on fighting, and reject any offer that includes a ceasefire, even if it comes at the cost of his son’s freedom, perhaps even his life. He established a small group of like-minded relatives of hostages called Forum Tikvah, or the Hope Forum. They stress the importance of the nation and the state over the life of any individual, even if that individual happens to be your loved one. And in that, ironically, their right wing position echoes the left wing socialist and collectivist sentiments that were dominant in the early days of the state.The end song is Akedat Yitzchak ("The Binding of Isaac") by Naomi Shemer.
  • Wartime Diaries: Mishael Zion

    Next week, millions of Jews around the world will sit down at their Passover tables, for what will invariably be a very different kind of seder. The timeless question of how this night, or this Pesach, is different from all other nights, and all other Pesachs, has gained an entirely new - and tragic - dimension since October 7th. And few, if any, have thought about this matter more than forty-three year old Mishael Zion, a liberal Orthodox rabbi and Jewish educator from Jerusalem. In 1997, Mishael’s father - Noam Zion - together with his friend David Dishon - published a popular English-language Haggadah called “A Different Night.” Seven years later, Mishael joined forces with his dad in creating an Israeli version - HaLayla HaZeh: Haggadah Israelit. And this year, two decades after that Israeli Haggadah came out, Mishael and his father decided to update it, for the first post-October 7th seder. The end song is Chad Gadya ("One Little Goat") by Chava Alberstein.To purchase a digital copy of the Israeli Haggadah in Hebrew, click here.To download the Zion Haggadah supplement in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, German and French, click here.
  • Wartime Diaries: Walter Bingham

    The horrific events of October 7th reminded many people of the darkest chapter in Jewish history - the Holocaust. And indeed, for the past six months, there have been as many comparisons to the Shoah as there have been critiques of those comparisons. Of the roughly 130,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today, just under 10,000 reside in Jerusalem. Many of them participate in the Jerusalem Foundation’s Café Europa, which offers a physical meeting place, a wide range of social and cultural activities - concerts, lectures, memorials, workshops - and professional help in navigating the thickets of Israeli bureaucracy. We recently spent a morning at the Café Europa branch in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood, where we heard all kinds of opinions about the Holocaust comparison. But the person with the strongest feelings on the matter just so happened to also be Café Europa’s oldest member - 100-year-old Walter Bingham.The end song is Tzair LaNetzach ("Forever Young") by Rami Kleinstein.
  • Wartime Diaries: Shai Davidai

    In the immediate aftermath of October 7th, Shai Davidai - an Assistant Professor at Columbia University - became an unlikely public defender of Israel. And truthfully, even he was surprised by this turn of events: As a committed left-wing Israeli, he had spent years criticizing the government, and often took to the streets to demonstrate against its policies. But the atmosphere he witnessed on college campuses (and specifically on his own campus at Columbia), compelled him to speak up and speak out.The end song is Yesh Lecha Chaver ("You've Got a Friend") originally by Carol King, performed by Tzila Dagan.
  • Wartime Diaries: Idit Ohel

    Alon Ohel - a talented young jazz pianist - was kidnapped from the Nova party on October 7th, and has been held hostage in Gaza ever since. His family has spent the last five plus months sending him good vibes and good music. In today's episode, his mother - Idit Ohel - talks about the importance of energy, friendship and hope during these dire times.The end song is Shuvi Elay ("Return to Me") by Avishai Cohen and friends.