Photo: Erik Marmor/Flash90

Allison Kaplan Sommer and Noah Efron discuss two topics of incomparable importance and end with an anecdote about something in Israel that made them smile this week.

In Flames
We just witnessed the rampage on Huwara that many here are calling a pogrom. A pogrom in 2023?

Flagging Spirits (or, Vexing Vexillology)
Israeli flags are weirdly prominent in the protests against the judicial reform. What’s with the flags?

Piece of Pottery Possibly Proves Purim
For our most unreasonably generous Patreon supporters, in our extra-special, special extra discussion: One of the president’s senior staff finds an ancient pottery shard with the name of the father of King Achashverosh, from the Purim Megillah, which somehow makes Noah feel nervous, but why, exactly?!?

All that and Rena Gluck and the birth of modern dance in Israel, Sara Netanyahu besieged in a salon, and the music of J.Lamotta!


  • La-Assot Tov 
  • Peirot
  • Chance

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4 comments on “The “In Flames” Edition

  1. Barry Levitt says:

    I’m a faithful listener of the podcast and the segment titled “In Flames” was… just soul crushingly bad. A wholly inadequate conversation about, yes, a pogrom — or perhaps we can just speak plainly and call it terrorism. (This wasn’t even the usual thing, where the conversation edges right up to a deep and genuinely uncomfortable thought and then Noah starts talking really quickly and defensively and then the segment ends.). This was so superficial, so ethically and analytically empty. I tuned in eagerly, hoping to hear you two grappling with difficult things, as I and many others have been doing this week; I fast forwarded straight to that segment; and when it had ended I somehow knew less about the situation than before I listened. I felt even more alone and insane, as a thinking person and as a Jew in the diaspora who improbably still calls himself both a social democrat and a Zionist. Please, try to do better. You don’t need me to tell you… but there’s a lot at stake.

    1. Noah Efron says:

      Yeah, it was bad alright. I agree with you on that.

      Already, another week has passed, and I still haven’t gotten myself straight about how to think about what happened in Huwara. I don’t know how I can try any harder than I was trying and am trying. Believe me, I wish as much as you do that I was smarter about this than I am. And I wish I could will myself to have more insight.

      For me, there is sometimes something comforting about hearing someone else confused about something that confuses me, but I get that the effect on you was the opposite and I am sorry for that. There are a million podcasts out there where the people talking know exactly what to think about Huwara, and it sounds like you should be listening to some of them instead of this podcast.

      1. Barry Levitt says:

        Noah, thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt reply. I’m not interested in seeking out blustery certainty about complicated issues — as you note, there’s no shortage of that in public discourse — and you’re not getting rid of me as a listener that easily. (Is this some sort of Jedi reverse psychology marketing campaign for the podcast? If so, it’s totally working.) What irked me about that segment was not that you were confused or uncertain how to feel (which was understandable) but that the vibe was, for lack of a better word, numb (which, of course, would also be entirely understandable). But I wish you all the strength and support you might need at this difficult moment in Israel’s public life. (I’m a professor and chair of a social science department at a public university in Florida, so on a *much* smaller and lower-stakes scale, I’ve got some additional and more proximate tzurris of my own right now.) And I’ll be listening when the next episode drops.

        1. Noah Efron says:

          Thank you for this generous and kind reply. I think after the next episode drops, you may regret what you wrote, as it is also a failed attempt to come to grips with all that is going on around me. And it is not just a failure, but a narcissistic failure, which is the worst kind. I am trying, hard, but in the end, that only means so much.

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