A Podcast for Peace

On The Branch, Dina Kraft ’93 delves into stories of Israeli/Palestinian friendship.

Dina Kraft in the studio with guest

Kraft (right, with community organizer Sami Saadi) has hard conversations about identity, politics, and government policies. Courtesy of Hadassah

When podcast host Dina Kraft ’93 goes on location, she never knows what sound bites she will capture. “I have chased after a bleating goat in a Bedouin village and tried to get close enough to record a Jewish oud player crooning classic Arabic love songs,” she says.

Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, Kraft tracks down stories the media generally overlook. Her podcast The Branch, sponsored by the Jewish women’s organization Hadassah, gives voice to Palestinian/Israeli friendships, recording stories of Arabs and Jews. Each episode tells the story of a different pair who work together — from peace activists on the Gaza–Israel border, to a soccer captain and coach in the Galilee, to the team who launched a chain of ice cream shops that offer “a corner of delicious sanity.”

Despite the new round of hostilities in recent months, Kraft remains as committed as ever to highlighting stories of unlikely friendships.

“The partners I’ve interviewed who are closest, across the very real divides that would otherwise keep them apart, are the ones who do not shy away from having hard conversations about identity, politics, and government policies,” she says. “They share a profound respect for one another, even when they don’t agree on everything.”

When Kraft was earning her bachelor’s degree in history at UW–Madison, she loved working at the Badger Herald. “It was a great way to learn more about what made Madison the unique place it is,” she says.

A longtime foreign correspondent, Kraft has reported from South Africa and Pakistan for the Associated Press and written for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Currently, she is a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. Kraft was a 2012 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and received the 2020 B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Award for Journalism.

Kraft also hosts another podcast, The Patient Is In, sponsored by StuffThatWorks, an AI-based crowdsourcing format that features conversations with people navigating chronic illness. So how does an award-winning print journalist make the switch to audio?

“Like everyone else on the planet, it seems, I’ve gotten bitten by the podcast bug,” says Kraft. “Even before podcasts became a thing, I had a serious crush on audio. I love its sense of immediacy and intimacy. I have learned that capturing the pitch of someone’s voice, the peal of their laugh, the way they speak to a colleague, helps reveal their character. And all of this has made me a better, more attentive journalist.”

Published in the Fall 2021 issue


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