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Episode 95 – The First Zionist Heroine

Every nation needs a mythical hero, a key figure in its history that against all odds, rebelled and fought the malicious powers that be in order to promise a future. To us, Zionist Israelis, the Aharonson family and the Nilly underground is as close to a mythical legend as it gets.

So much has been said and written about the British and their ruthless 31 years of occupation in Israel/Palestine between 1917 and 1948. But many seem to forget that before the British, the Ottoman Empire ruled this land for centuries. And when the first Zionists came here in the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, they had to face a ruthless, cruel and primitive regime that was soon to bring a Holocaust on the Armenian people.

It was under these circumstances that the Aharonson family, who were Romanian zionists that dwelled in the just-established village of Zikron Yaakov – decided to rebel and assist the British from within. Their underground became a remarkable story which would inspire generations.

Gregory J. Wallance is an American lawyer and an author. His book Papa’s Game was nominated to the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and he wrote several other critically acclaimed books, alongside op-eds for leading American newspapers such as the New York Times and the LA Times. His most recent book is called “The Woman Who Fought an Empire: Sarah Aharonson and her Nili Spy Ring”, and it depicts the incredible story of the Aharonson undergrounds. We’re thrilled to have him on our show to talk about these turbulent and adventurous times.