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Times of Israel Podcast

LISTEN: TOI diplomacy reporter debriefs on following Netanyahu around the world

Departing diplomatic correspondent Raphael Ahren reveals what happens on the road with the prime minister, and health writer Nathan Jeffay advises on the pandemic’s final stretch

This week The Times of Israel Podcast takes you behind the scenes at the paper with our departing diplomatic correspondent Raphael Ahren, who tells us what it’s like to jet set around the world with Israel’s prime minister. Next, we’ll hear from our new science and health reporter Nathan Jeffay, who has gotten very little sleep since joining us this past March to cover the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahren speaks four languages fluently — a skill that has served him well as he trotted around the globe. He’s visited 26 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Europe, often as a member of the press corps in the entourage accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on various diplomatic missions.

For the last nine years, Ahren has served as The Times of Israel’s diplomatic correspondent, and we’re extremely sad to see him go — but before we let him out of the office, we’re getting the inside scoop on what it’s like to cover some of the most important diplomatic achievements in Israeli history.

Ahren’s job certainly sounds glamorous. From traveling on the same plane as the prime minister and being whisked in the official motorcade directly to their hotel, bypassing the usual tedium in the airport terminal, to sipping Colombian coffee in Colombia and visiting the Jewish communities of the Middle East, being a diplomatic correspondent definitely has its perks.

Former Times of Israel diplomatic correspondent Raphael Ahren in front of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, summer of 2020. (Courtesy)

But Ahren also pulls aside the curtain to reveal a job filled with frantic typing in airports and hotel lobbies, late nights, and back-to-back flights, showing us that covering diplomacy is just as demanding as you might imagine.

We also get the first-person account of how Ahren managed to orchestrate the first morning prayer service in Bahrain’s only synagogue for the first time in over 70 years. He pulled the feat off during the 2019 Peace to Prosperity conference – and prayed elbow-to-elbow with the Trump administration’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Next, we speak with science and health reporter Jeffay, who answers everything we wanted to know about Israel’s new coronavirus vaccine campaign: For exmple, who’s eligible for a shot and how they can navigate the chaos to arrange for one. But there’s also the question of whether or not members of the public will even be willing to roll up their sleeves for the immunization.

Times of Israel science and health reporter Nathan Jeffay in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Courtesy)

Jeffay speaks about the first Israeli to receive the shot — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and dives into the psychology fueling fears of vaccination. We then hear about what Israel’s influential religious leaders are doing to protect their constituencies, before turning to a slightly more chilling topic: The latest coronavirus mutation that’s sweeping Britain and causing governments around the world to seal off their air borders with the UK.

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