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Morning Glory: Israel’s war of survival

The only way to understand Israel's war in Gaza is to rely on the right experts. The legacy media can't be counted on, so here is an essential set of resources to get behind the scenes.

Do you know what you are talking about when you opine on Israel’s war of survival? 
"Give me five minutes with a person's checkbook," the late Billy Graham remarked, "and I will tell you where their heart is." 
That famous dictum is no longer true because… who uses checkbooks? But a modern corollary is now applicable: "Show me the podcasts you follow in your feed and actually listen to, and I’ll tell you whether you are genuinely informed about ____." 

Podcasts have become an alternative to news programs—network, cable or on the radio—and to newspapers. Sports pods came first as fans of specific franchises are "super consumers" of news and analysis of the clubs they follow. My feed is full of Cleveland sports for example: "Terry’s Talkin’" with Terry Pluto and David Campbell of, along with "Orange and Brown Talk" and "Buckeye Talk" from the same platform with different hosts who cover the Cleveland Browns and The Ohio State University Buckeyes football have been in my podcast feed the longest.  

Also on the feed is the relatively new "Kings of the North" pod, hosted by Doug Lesmaires and Bill Landis, which has forged a concept that "northern" college football deserved its own pod—as opposed to, say, dreaded SEC pods that don’t understand that the best college football is played north of Tennessee. It’s quite entertaining, as well as my other regular sports pods. That’s what the best sports pods are: entertaining and informative.  
Of political and general news pods, there are now thousands competing with sports pods. I enjoy "Getting Hammered" with Mary Katharine Ham and Vic Matus because it is funny and topical, and I feel like I am listening in to conversations my adult children might be having. It does cover some news, but mostly it provides a dive into the informed perspectives on the news of a different age cohort.  
But if the subject you are interested in is Israel’s war in Gaza, and quite likely the imminent, much expanded battle between the IDF and Hezbollah on the northern border of the Jewish state, you have to be much more selective.  
Thus, I have become a daily listener to the Times of Israel’s The Daily Briefing (especially when the platform’s senior analyst Haviv Rettig Gur is a guest) and it’s "What Matters Now" pod which also often features Rettig Gur, who has become something of a must-listen to interpreter of the war for non-Israelis.  

I discovered Rettig Gur on the "Call Me Back" podcast hosted by Dan Senor, a pod on which Senor interviews key observers of the war in Gaza and the likelihood of another front that exploded in intensity in the north. Senor is an American who seems to know pretty much every journalist and many officials in Israel. 
Senor’s March 21 interview of Israeli War Cabinet member Ron Dermer was perhaps the first "strategic" pod I have listened to. Dermer quite obviously had many messages to deliver from the War Cabinet to the American public that supports Israel’s war. He picked Senor’s pod because he wanted to speak to that audience specifically. It was a wise choice. Senor is a seasoned interviewer but, in this episode, like almost every other episode, Senor is eliciting information, not dealing out his opinions.  
Finally, I’m not Jewish, but I am also not blind to the surge in antisemitism in the United States to truly staggering levels, so I make a habit of listening to every "Commentary" pod that appears as well as relevant ones from The Free Press, the platform pioneered by Bari Weiss which has exploded in popularity as an alternative to legacy media.  
The latter is usually a new take with a new voice on most episodes, but the Commentary pod has a recurring format: Editor-in-chief of Commentary Magazine John Podhoretz leads a daily conversation with his Executive Editor Abe Greenwald and two or three of his key contributors—Matt Continetti, Seth Mandel and Christine Rosen—through every aspect of Israel’s war and its impact on Jewish Americans of the antisemitic Krakatoa that went off in the states after 10/7, as well as a good mix of domestic American politics as campaign 2024 heads into its third turn.  

What "JPod," as Podhoretz is known online and off, does is simply run through the current developments with his gang of very, very smart voices—say, a focus on the abstention of the U.S. on last week’s Security Council Resolution decoupling a ceasefire from release of the hostages or on the views of American Jewry on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Commentary pod also welcomes guests like Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Eli Lake or Eliana Johnson. They also welcome—wait for it—the remarkable Rettig Gur now and again.  
Finally, I make a point to listen to Donniel Hartman, 66, and Yossi Klein Halevi, 71, on their "For Heaven’s Sake" pod, whenever it appears, because these are two very smart old Israeli friends who are public intellectuals of great reputation in Israel who seem to me to be left and center-left (and both anti-Netanyahu) and thus certain to introduce me to some Israeli thinking that isn’t necessarily going to make it into news reports I ordinarily read. They also represent voices from my age cohort with references throughout to their 50-plus years of Israeli history and politics.  

Bottom line, I’d have half as many facts and views of the war if I only listened to two of these four podcasts focused mostly on Israel’s war of survival. If I relied only on American legacy media, I would have a terribly distorted view of the war and would be blind and dumb to vast amounts of crucial data about the war.  
Thus, on Friday’s night "Special Report"—Gillian Turner sitting in for Bret Baier—the "Winners and Losers of the Week" segment came up, and I rattled off these pods as the "winners of the week" because of their collective coverage of this terrible but necessary war. I recommend all four of them to you because so much of the coverage of the war in Gaza and what seems likely to be a war in Lebanon requires a lot of information and assessment that most reporters and pundits simply don’t have the time to acquire.  

Give me five minutes with your podcast feed, and I’ll know not just your passions, but probably your point of view on politics generally and whether or not you are in a position to even articulate an informed opinion on the war that Israel is waging. Give them all a try. Start, perhaps with Senor’s conversation with Dermer from last week and his latest interview or Rettig Gur which posted early Monday morning in the U.S. 

Hugh Hewitt is one of the country’s leading journalists of the center-right. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996, where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990, and it is today syndicated to hundreds of stations and outlets across the country every Monday through Friday morning. Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and this column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his 40 years in broadcast, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio show today.


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