Yishai Fleisher is an Israeli radio broadcaster and international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, an Israeli radio show host, and writer. Fleisher is a contributing editor at JewishPress.com and the founder and director of "Kumah" – a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening Israel's global narrative through strategic communications. Fleisher was also the Director of Programming and a broadcaster at the Voice of Israel network, which operated between 2014 and 2015.
Background & Education
Fleisher was born in Israel to Jewish Refuseniks from the Soviet Union. When he was a child, his family moved to the United States, and he grew up in New Jersey. At the age of 17, Fleisher returned to Israel and served as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces. He continues to participate in an active battlefield reserve unit.
After being injured in Lebanon during his military service, Fleisher returned to the US where he completed an undergraduate degree in political science at Yeshiva University, and a Juris Doctorate at the Cardozo School of Law. Fleisher received his rabbinic degree from Kollel Agudat Achim in Jerusalem. In 2002, he married Malka Bennett, who had been a classmate of his, at the Cave of the Patriarchs. A year later, the couple returned to Israel and settled in the settlement of Beit El. In 2011, they moved to Jerusalem. Fleisher and his wife have three children.
Media and journalism
Radio and podcasts
Yishai is currently producing and hosting "The Yishai Fleisher Show", a daily analysis and interview talk show focused on Israeli and Middle East politics, culture, Jewish history, and tradition. The show aired weekdays on the now defunct Voice of Israel network where Yishai was Program Director.
Fleisher regularly interviews Israeli and international politicians, thinkers and business leaders. Husband and wife team, Yishai and Malkah Fleisher, are known for their work as a broadcasting team, appear on air together for a portion of "The Yishai Fleisher Show" providing a unique, insiders' view of daily life in Israel as well as their tag team analysis. "The Yishai Fleisher Show" is also available on podcast and is often top rated on iTunes.
From 2003 to 2011 Fleisher was Director of Programming at Israel National Radio (Arutz Sheva), building the English-language internet station from two to thirty shows, including his own Yishai and Friends, and establishing it as one of the largest independent providers of radio content on Israel and the Middle East. He then broadcast on Galey Yisrael (106.5 FM), at the time, the only English language talk show on terrestrial radio in Israel.
He is also affiliated with the Land of Israel Network, a podcast radio station from Jerusalem featuring English language Zionist radio shows, which as of January 2016 was in the pre-launch phase.
TV & video
Fleisher is featured regularly on international cable television and radio outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC, various American talk radio programs, and Israeli television. His presentations range from analysis of the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people on Shalom TV to debates with Palestinian Authority representatives as on Al Jazeera opposite Husam Zumlot, Deputy Commissioner for Fatah. A selection of interviews from "The Yishai Fleisher Show" radio program are also available on video on the Voice of Israel youtube channel.
Fleisher also appears on Jewish and Christian radio and television. In August 2014 he was a guest on the Texas-based Daystar TV's "Marcus and Joni Show". Through his mini-documentary series "Eye On Zion", Fleisher takes viewers into locations and behind the stories in Israel such as unraveling the secrets of the priestly blessing "Under the Prayer Shawl" and joining the throngs at the "Ultimate Jewish Festival: Lag BaOmer in Meron". Eye On Zion videos can be seen on the Eye On Zion TV youtube channel and on cable television via ShalomTV).
Fleisher was a columnist at the Jerusalem Post Magazine, and a contributing editor at JewishPress.com. His op-eds and articles cover a range of topics pertinent to Israel, Judaism, and the Middle East. Currently, his articles still appear in a variety of news outlets.
− Allah Is A Zionist "I grew up in Haifa in a mixed Jewish- Arab neighborhood where I played with Arab boys and where my mother used to send me to the Arab store to buy coffee or sugar before I even attended kindergarten. However, my new neighborhood was not Haifa of the ’80s but eastern Jerusalem of 2012, and instead of warm coexistence I was rebuffed by the shop owners, who gave me an unambiguous sense that I was not welcome."
− The Nefarious Pharaohs of our Time "Every generation has its Pharaoh. In our time, we have been told over and over again that there is only one way to move past the Arab-Israeli conflict. That is, of course, the two-state solution."
− The Rationalist Nationalist "Israel's "rationalists" refuse to think and act like Middle Easterners. Under their regime of appeasement, Hezbollah is now armed to the teeth, the Negev is almost totally overrun by Bedouins, we have a new neighboring Hamas terror state, and our once-ally, Turkey, sends hate flotillas to harass us. So why do Israeli "pragmatists" dehumanize nationalists? Because the only thing that stands in the way of the "pragmatists’" political success is the competition of the rationally-courageous nationalist who calls on Israel to claim her rights, assert her sovereignty, broadcast confidence, employ deterrence, and stand up to world bullies instead of selling out to them."
− Tefillin in the IDF "It’s 6:30 a.m., super cold in the desert, and we just went to sleep a few hours ago after a full night of hiking, maneuvering and positioning on IDF reserve duty. I take out my special tefillin bag, and start by donning my tallit, the white cloth starkly contrasting with olive green of the uniform and the jeeps. Immediately, I sense a change in the atmosphere. We don’t talk about it much, just a word or two here and there. They all know someone who does it. A friend, a brother, a grandfather; someone in their life does this strange bit of wrapping leather boxes and mumbling while swaying. While they may not consider themselves observant, to me, they observe so many of our people’s essential values, like “Ve’ahavta l’reacha kamocha” – loving the other as much as one loves oneself. They show this by volunteering to take a week out of their busy lives to practice the art of war in the service of the Jewish state and the Jewish people."
− The Kerry-Go-Round and the Crisis of Creativity "He asked me where I was originally from. “Haifa,” I answered, “You know, where Jews and Arabs get along, and where I could go into an Arab store and feel welcome, unlike here in Ras el-Amud. Why is it like that?” In a friendly but serious tone, he replied, “You know, in Arabic, we have a name for you, Almustawten. Do you know what that means?” “Yes, it means settler.” “Correct,” he said. “But while the whole world is talking about the problem of the settlers, you go and decide to be a settler in Palestine.” Taking the bait of Jerusalem taxi sociopolitical debate, I riposted: “Palestine! You love to wave the flag of Palestine, but when it comes to jobs, healthcare, social security, courts and especially your blue identity card [Israeli resident status], you are not willing to give that up.” He nodded. “So you talk all day about the occupation, but you don’t actually want to live in Palestine, you want to live in Israel!” Wael took a pause, and glanced at me in the rearview mirror. “Yesh b’zeh mashehu.” There’s something to that, he admitted...but then he shot back: “Look, forget about flags or jobs, it’s all about land – and this is our land.”
− The Dingy Dung Gate "While on the one hand our generation has a chance to build it, on the other hand Jerusalem is on the chopping block. Powerful forces just can’t wait to wrest it from our hands and undermine our claim with an alternative narrative."
Kumah nonprofit organisation
The non-profit "Kumah" (meaning "arise" in Hebrew) was established by Fleisher in 1999 as a 501c3 nonprofit in the US, and as the "Kumah Yisrael" amuta (non-profit) in Israel. Kumah aims to educate the public about Israel and further right wing Israeli interests in the Middle East. Kumah also works to strengthen the Jewish character of the State of Israel through a wide array of activities including media projects, strategic communication seminars, visual and performing arts presentations, renovation projects, and submitting new legislation to the Israeli Knesset.
As director of Kumah, Fleisher has delivered lectures and seminars on topics from Middle East and Israeli politics, branding and marketing of Israel, insights into the practical aspects of the Jewish state such as education, infrastructure, health and medical systems, and natural resources, as well as historical and spiritual aspects of the Jewish connection to the Israel. Fleisher has spoken on many North American campuses, in the Canadian Parliament, the Texas State House, presented policy concepts for Israel's future at AIPAC, and in a wide range of synagogues and churches.
Through Kumah, Fleisher wrote and produced a popular internet-based satirical short film based on the Matrix films. The short film, called "Free Your Mind", explores the process of "making Aliyah" through protagonist Neo's decision to immigrate to Israel. "Free Your Mind" was extensively viewed on YouTube as well as critically acclaimed in Israel's "Maariv" Hebrew daily and in "The Jerusalem Post".
"Aliyah Revolution Album" produced by Kumah is a collection of Aliyah-related songs donated to the project by well-known artists: Moshav Band, Chaim-Dovid Saracik, Neshama Carlebach, Reva L’Sheva, Aharon Razel, and Shlock Rock, and newer bands like Aharit Hayamim Hai and The Footsteps.
Kumah's projects have also included renovations at various heritage sites in Israel such as the Old City of Jerusalem and the Tomb of Ruth and Jesse (Yishai) in Hebron. In addition, Kumah submitted legislation drafted by Fleisher to create an "Aliyah Day" – a day honoring and encouraging Western immigration to Israel.
Yishai is married to Malkah, a fellow Cardozo law school student who was born and raised in Texas. The couple were married in 2002 in Hebron while still students. Following graduation in 2003, they emigrated to Israel where Yishai had been recruited to develop English language radio. The Fleishers lived in the Israeli settlement of Beit El, adjacent to Ramallah, for eight years, before moving to eastern Jerusalem in 2011 where they currently live on the Mount of Olives with their three children.
- "The Right Person in the Right Place at the Right Time!". the Jewish Community of Hebron. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- "Kumah". yishaifleisher.com. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
- Noa Amouyal, Seth J. Frantzman (25 August 2015). "Voice of Israel English-language radio closes after first year". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- "Interview with Yishai Fleisher- Director of Arutz Sheva, Israel National News". www.jewishboston.com. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
- "About – Radio – Arutz Sheva". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
- "NRG online magazine".
- "About Us | The Land of Israel". thelandofisrael.com. The Land of Israel Network website. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
- Yishai Fleisher on Al-Jazeera – Right of Jews to Hebron – Part I, 2011-04-02, retrieved 2016-01-20
- "The search for a Middle East optimist". BBC. 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
- How Much Do You Really Know About ISIS? Yishai Fleisher of the Voice of Israel Radio Network, 2014-08-28, retrieved 2016-01-20
- In The Last Days TV Programme 78 – Yishai Fleisher, 2014-03-03, retrieved 2016-01-20
- Free Your Mind, 2006-05-07, retrieved 2016-01-20
- Jerusalem Post review of "Free Your Mind"
- The Aliyah Revolution Album, 2009-09-26, retrieved 2016-01-20
- "Kumah – Home of Neo-Zionism, Aliyah Revolution, and the real Holy Land Pilgrimage". www.kumah.org. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
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