Making waves

The advantage of the radio –  as opposed to television –  is that it leaves far more to the imagination. The non-visual media allows us to tantalisingly “fill-in in the blanks,” leaving us all to draw our own creative conclusions. The nuance of radio is something that Israeli Jewish journalist, Eran Zinger, has capitalised on for the good of Jews and Arabs in Israeli society.

A familiar and popular radio broadcaster, Zinger would probably be unrecognisable walking down the street. But his voice is known throughout the land, as is his commitment to the cause of bringing harmony in society. Both these factors have boosted his ratings to make him one the most popular commentators of the day. 

His rise to being one of the most listened to men in Israel, has been methodical, determined and pragmatic. Flawless in Arabic, he chose to live in Haifa, a city of exemplary co-existence, studying the language at the city’s university. His aptitude for linguistics did not go unrewarded. He was soon offered a position on Israel’s national radio as a reporter on Arab Affairs. As Israel was dragged into the Second Intifada and six years later the Second Lebanon War, Zinger reported from the front line. 

When hostilities came to an end – albeit temporarily – Zinger was given his very own radio show, which he for the most co-hosts with an Arab broadcaster.  Skipping over the Israeli Arab politicians who take joy in complaining about everything and cant decide whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, Zinger interviews the man on the street: Arabs who are fluent Hebrew speakers and immersed in Israeli culture. He offers a platform for them to air issues prevalent in Arab society. There are a wide range of topics, including agriculture, theatre, music, economics, and even crime.

Every afternoon, Jews tune in and learn about the cultural richness of their Arab “cousins.” Likewise, Arabs interviewed by the skilful Zinger, talk fondly of their country, showing that they are Israeli citizens with the same ups and downs of their Jewish neighbours. Zinger is successful in expelling the Jewish or Arab issue – which many politicians inflame – and instead he highlights humanity.  Although Jews and Arabs may be culturally different, the banter and wonderful humour between Zinger and his interviewees, reveals that everyone likes a good laugh. Israelis all over the country, whether Jew or Arab warm to each other because Zinger shows that behind the black and white, the Left and the Right, are people – and people are people, whoever they are. 

The fondness shown towards him by both Arabs and Jews interviewees is remarkable. Void of an agenda, our favourite broadcaster creates space for people and allows them to be known beyond their ethnic or religious labels. In doing so, Eran Zinger skilfully skips around contentious issues and instead inspires empathy and respect – which is the only way to make waves in the Middle East.