People of Israel: David (Zeev) Jablinowitz

After studying at Queens College, Jablinowitz made aliyah in 1981 from New York, where, growing up, he never imagined that he would one day become a top broadcaster for Israel Radio’s English News.

May 16, 2019 16:58
3 minute read.
People of Israel: David (Zeev) Jablinowitz

David (Zeev) Jablinowitz. (photo credit: SCOTT KAHN)

Broadcast journalist and public speaker David (Zeev) Jablinowitz, who made aliyah from New York to Jerusalem and then moved to Beit Shemesh, enjoys talking about his interviews with interesting personalities – including US President Barack Obama, and no less than seven Israeli prime ministers.

“Obama laughed at me when I told him that I was a New York Mets fan,” he recalls.

After studying at Queens College, Jablinowitz made aliyah in 1981 from New York, where, growing up, he never imagined that he would one day become a top broadcaster for Israel Radio’s English News.

“I always had a love for journalism,” he says. “Anyone who knew me said I had a passion for knowledge and my curiosity would lead me to my career and they were correct. In high school, I worked on the school newspaper and in college I broadcast a news program so when I made aliyah I was certain I wanted to work in communications and that’s how I came to Kol Yisrael [Israel Radio].”

Jablinowitz worked for over 30 years reporting in and on Israel, 25 of them as a diplomatic and political correspondent at Israel Radio. He has briefed missions visiting Israel from North America, and has traveled to the US on speaking tours. Married to Shari with four children and two grandchildren, he has now left Israel Radio and is contemplating his next career move.

What were the highlights of your career at Kol Yisrael?

I interviewed seven prime ministers and each one made an impact. Yitzhak Shamir – I remember he was very intimidating, and on the other hand Yitzhak Rabin was so kindhearted. I remember a day before a scheduled conference call with a North American Jewish organization before Rosh Hashana, I had an hour-long personal conversation with Rabin. He spoke with me with such openness, and I really enjoyed the conversation with him. Two months later he was assassinated.”

How did you manage to interview Obama?

That’s interesting. I had a conversation with a high-ranking official in the American government, who asked me whether I had any plans to be in Washington in the near future. I answered in the negative, so he said, “OK, be available by phone at this and this time on this and this day.” He never said anything but I realized it must be something special and indeed, at the agreed time, the phone rang and on the line was no other than the president of the US, Barack Obama. Wow, it was such a surprise!”

What did you speak about?

Obama is an incredible man. I felt he was someone who is easy to speak with, like you’re speaking to your neighbor. We spoke a lot about sport and especially on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama shared with me a peace plan he had, which he was considering to offer both sides. But when I heard the plan, I told him that I didn’t think that any of the “Zionist” parties would support taking the outline and timetable of the plan to the UN Security Council. I said, “Ask any Member of Knesset from the right-wing Likud to left-wing Meretz and you’ll see that such a plan could not be accepted.”

Following the Trump win in the elections, Obama called me again and said, ”David, after our conversation, I did my research in the Knesset and realized that you are correct. Therefore, I never suggested my plan.”

What’s your life like after Kol Yisrael closed?

I needed to reinvent myself. After working for some time in Kan, the new broadcast authority, I left and opened a podcast called “David Zeev in Israel,” in which I interviewed interesting people who made aliyah or had an incredible life story. Unfortunately, I don’t do the podcast anymore yet I am still very active and constantly post on social media, especially the fascinating stories I have witnessed on Israeli buses, which have proved to be popular with many people. You can put up a post about something important the prime minister said and you get three likes, but put up the nursery rhyme, “Jack and Jill,” and you get 500 likes. The whole rating system has changed, but one thing’s for sure – Israel is fascinating and wonderful and full of stories.”

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