The new season of the Decision Points podcast with host David Makovsky focuses on key Israeli and Arab leaders.
This season of Decision Points features episodes on key leaders on the Israeli and Arab sides, focusing on an intersection between their biographies and a key moment that exemplifies their decision-making, from the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre to Anwar Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem. Each episode will tell the story of an important leader, highlighting their contributions to Israeli-Arab-American relations over the last 70 years. The first episode is coming out August 19th on David Ben-Gurion.
Episode 1: David Ben-Gurion and the Decision to Declare the State of Israel
On May 14, 1948, the British were scheduled to bring an end to the British Mandate in Palestine. The question on the table for the Jewish community in Palestine was existential: to immediately declare a state and risk invasion by better-armed Arab states or accept an international ceasefire? Join leading Israeli historian Anita Shapira to discuss the dramatic cabinet debate and David Ben Gurion’s decision to declare the state.
Episode 2: Shimon Peres and the Development of Israel’s Nuclear Program
Shimon Peres’s contributions spanned the first seven decades of Israeli history, making his life inseparable from that of the country itself. Often remembered as a leading statesman, not a soldier, he is nevertheless credited with establishing the Israeli defense industry and making the controversial decision to pursue a nuclear program—a move predicated on close relations with France, the looming memory of the Holocaust, and numerous geostrategic considerations.
In this episode, host David Makovsky is joined by Shai Feldman, a leading expert on nuclear history, and Nimrod Novik, a close advisor of Peres, for a discussion on the late leader’s pivotal role in Israel's nuclear development.
Episode 3: Golda Meir and the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre
Raised in America before emigrating to Israel, Golda Meir was the country’s first and only female prime minister, and one of only two women to sign its declaration of independence. A study in contrasts, she was tough on terrorism but also a key player in securing the release of 200,000 Jews from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, sparking a wave of Russian emigration to Israel. Her legacy is viewed differently at home and abroad. Her tenure coincided with several major threats to Israelis—most infamously the “Black September” attack on the Olympic team in Munich. Join David Makovsky for this episode, which features interviews with Meir biographer Francine Klagsbrun and journalist who focuses on Israeli counterterrorism history and author of the bestselling Rise and Kill First, Ronen Bergman, to discuss Israel’s reaction and response to the attack.
Episode 4: Menachem Begin and the Bombing of the Osiraq Nuclear Reactor
Throughout his life, Menachem Begin held many titles: leader of the Irgun, an underground revisionist-Zionist militia; leader of the opposition; and prime minister. One value motivated everything he did: the protection of the Jewish people and prevention of a second Holocaust. One of the clearest examples of this principle was Operation Opera, the Israeli raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. Join Amos Yadlin, one of the fighter pilots involved in the operation, and Dan Meridor, a cabinet secretary under Begin, to discuss the raid, the development of the “Begin Doctrine,” and the lessons from Osiraq that can be applied to more recent nuclear challenges from Syria and Iran.