Podcast: Matti Friedman on Israel’s First Spies

The author of Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel joins us in the studio.

May 9 2019
About the authors

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

Matti Friedman is the author of a memoir about the Israeli war in Lebanon, Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War (2016). His latest book is Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel (2019).

This Week’s Guest: Matti Friedman


Long before the Mossad became known as one of the world’s most capable intelligence agencies, Israel’s first spies were dispatched to Beirut without so much as a radio to contact home. In the spring of 1948, a handful of young Mizraḥi Jews were recruited to serve in the Palmaḥ’s Arab Section and charged with going undercover among the Arab population of Palestine and neighboring countries. Sent back into the Arab lands they had left behind, they risked their lives to become spies for a country that was yet to be born.

In his new book, Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel, journalist and author Matti Friedman focuses on the lives of four of these men, transporting us back to a world without a state of Israel or an IDF, where the fate of Palestine’s Jews remained uncertain and the project of Jewish statehood hung in the balance.

In this podcast, Matti Friedman joins Jonathan Silver to discuss the challenges and risks faced by the spies while undercover, the complex identities of these Mizraḥi Jews posing as non-Jewish Arabs, and the importance of telling their stories.

Listen via iTunes Podcasts | Google PlayStitcher | Spotify




Every Thursday, the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic will bring to to your car/earbuds/home stereo/Alexa the latest in our efforts to advance Jewish thought. For more on the new podcast, check out our inaugural post here.

A final note: If you would like to share your thoughts on the podcast, ideas for future guests and topics, or any other form of feedback, just send us an email at editors@mosaicmagazine.com. We’re grateful for your support, and we look forward to a new year of great conversations on Jewish essays and ideas.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

More about: Israel & Zionism, Mandate Palestine, Matti Friedman, Mossad