Episode 60

Horsing Around

  • 42:26
  • 2020
Cowgirls with oversized belt buckles and horse breeders fantasizing about producing world champions are not exactly what come to mind when you think of Israel. But today we take you into arenas, rings, and stables around the country to uncover a surprising subculture of equine enthusiasts.
Horsing Around

Stray cats are everywhere in Israel, and nearly half a million dogs live among us. But in today’s episode we turn our attention to the little-known world of Israeli and Palestinian horses. Welcome to the vibrant community of locals who spend most of their time talking, dreaming, and breathing colts, fillies, mares, and stallions. From ‘”Straight Egyptian” breeders to “Extreme Cowboy” champions, these are the folks who have managed to find an alternative path to coexistence in the Middle East.

Prologue: Giddy-Up

Mishy Harman

Mishy Harman, Clara Fuhg and Michael Vivier drive up north to Vered HaGalil, a remote ‘dude ranch’ on a gorgeous hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. There, they speak to head trainer Danielle Deknuydt, as she prepares to defend her title as Israel’s “Extreme Cowboy” champ. The only twist? In a country that just emerged from lockdown number two, this year’s competition will be entirely virtual.

Act I: Abdel Naser’s Colts

Elise Coker, Joel Shupack

Documentary filmmaker Elise Coker and producer Joel Shupack introduce us to twenty-two-year-old Abdel Naser Musleh, from Kafr ‘Aqab, near Ramallah. His dream, he unabashedly says, is to become the “best Arabian breeder in the world.” He is not there yet, but from the modest stables he and his father built on their property, Abdel Naser is now reaching for a not-so-modest goal. For two years, we follow him and his two baby colts – Kamel El-Awsaf and Mawal El-Nahar – as they gallop toward greatness. And amid all the ups and downs, the excitement and the heartbreak, we learn how horses can – at once – represent Arab pride, Palestinian nationalism and a hope for a peaceful future. This story is based on Elise’s documentary film, Stallions of Palestine, from Topic Films.


Joel Shupack scored and sound-designed the episode with music by Blue Dot Sessions and William Ryan Fritch. Additional music by Chris Haugen and Lobo Lobo. Sela Waisblum created the mix. The end song is Zehava Ben’s cover version of Abdel Halim Hafez’s “Sawah”.


Project Kesher is a non-profit organization that empowers and invests in women. They develop Jewish women leaders – and interfaith coalitions – in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Israel, deliver Torahs to women who’ve never held one before, broadcast women’s health information on Ukrainian Public Radio, and help Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel advocate for equal rights.

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in New York City provides great virtual programs, classes, and events for all ages, in a dazzling variety of areas including the Arts, Fitness, and Jewish Life.

The Afya Foundation delivers medical supplies and PPE to people in need in over eighty-five countries. Taking their lead from doctors and local leaders in devastated communities, they provide custom relief packages and shipments to ensure patients receive care and support tailored to their specific needs.

The Branch is a wonderful podcast that tells stories of everyday relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, brought to you by Hadassah. Dina Kraft, their fabulous host, talks to regular people forging strong connections and having important, and often complicated, conversations about coexistence.