Hafta letters: History of Jews, Zionism and hot takes

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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After Bhavesh’s mail and your response, I thought maybe I’d hold off on this mail. But with a stream of emails telling you to keep at it, I fear a reversion to type. I’ve been a serial letter-writer, I think my first was in 2015/16 when Abhinandan used to prod Manisha and Arunav to speak up. :-).

I think all my letters have said the same thing. You have an unfortunate tendency to conflate criticism as a demand for ‘ideological monkey-balancing’. But the real problem is hot takes. I know you have thought-through positions when you’re on other podcasts (eg. on charcha even, or when Abhinandan was on the Pakistan experience or Manisha on The Seen and the Unseen).

So, I know for a fact that all of you (except Jayashree) can function in modes other than impotent rage. Would you please bring those to Hafta as well, sometimes? so that you’re able to shed some light on issues, not just heat? Debate passionately, but maybe rant less, reason more? Thanks.



CJI DY Chandrachud appears to be gunning for the title of “India’s Chief Avoidance Officer” with his reluctance to address thorny political issues like Article 370, same-sex marriage, and electoral bonds. He prefers the comfort of seminar podiums to the hard-hitting courtroom, a peculiar approach for the Chief Justice.

His “judicial restraint” strategy is akin to a lifeguard who refuses to dive into the pool, claiming, “I don’t want to get wet.” This evasion of responsibility contradicts the judiciary’s role of providing constitutional guidance. While Chandrachud preaches adherence to precedent, he conveniently forgets that societal progress necessitates challenging the status quo. 

If we followed his doctrine, we’d still be stuck in the dark ages when barbaric practices like sati and untouchability were legal. Moreover, his seminar grandstanding is a theatrical charade, akin to a chef delivering eloquent speeches about gourmet cuisine while serving insipid dishes in the restaurant.



Hello NL team,

I wanted to highlight a Gen Z YouTube journalist doing amazing work on crucial political issues, Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan.  

I suggest checking out his recent coverage of pro-Isreal as well as pro-Palestine rallies in the US. Also, Callaghan’s most recent video titled “Crip Mac Returns” on a simple theme about rapper ‘Crip Mac’ returning from jail and interacting with people, clearly made on a small budget is one of the best videos on YouTube.




Dear NL team,

I’m a student from Delhi, self-designing my programme containing different disciplines at The New School in New York, including journalism. I request a podcast/series/roundtable on the “variety of stress points while covering elections” for us to learn more about the behind-the-scenes. I am saddened by the live coverage of elections being taken for granted.

My interests: Comparing stress points across state/regional lines, how budgets per story or election differ among the big media and independent/smaller-cale agencies, how reporting on elections changed over a time, production team’s challenges, etc.


Kartik Gupta


Hi NL Team!

You’re doing great work. It is always a pleasure to listen to discussions on Hafta.

I am writing this to share some thoughts about the crisis in west Asia. I have not read in-depth about the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but based on whatever little I’ve read and the news coverage I have watched, I think the current crisis – Hamas attack on October 7 and the aftermath – is the result of irresponsible behaviour of people with power. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Can you suggest a book, podcast or documentary, or invite a guest on Hafta to talk about the history of persecution of Jews? I didn’t know how to react when in Hafta 458, Sudipto linked Israel to the cause of social justice in India.

Thank you!

Keep up the great work!



I wanted to counter/put into context some points made by Sudipto in Hafta 458. Jews were expelled from Israel by Christians, not Muslims. They were allowed to return during Islamic rule and were treated relatively well under the Ottoman empire when there were several pogroms in the Christian world, peaking at WW2. Significant Jewish migrations to the region started at the end of the 19th century. Clashes between Jews and Arabs in the region started after the Balfour declaration. Given that most of the Jewish suffering was a result of European antisemitism, why was it on the Arabs to give them their land? Without going into the Zionist cause, it is important to understand why the Arabs were not happy with the part, instead of blaming them for rejecting it. What should have been solved with negotiations after the first Arab-Israeli war was made worse by expansionism by Israel.



Grateful for inclusion of my email in the last Hafta. Abhinandan’s response is clear and convincing. It raises my appreciation for Team NL. It deserves all encouragement and support. Best wishes.

Shikhar Ranjan


In the last podcast, one of your panellists quoted “a” Dalit-Marxist intellectual equating Zionism with the struggle of Dalits for social justice. This is an interesting take on Zionism, and it would be great if you can provide the reference for the said Dalit-Marxist scholar(s) so I can read their arguments in entirety. On the face of it though, the idea looks like a badly cooked gulab jamun that appears amazing at the surface but is tasteless at the core and certainly causes diarrhoea. Also, intellectuals who have wielded only a hammer for a tool see only nails for a problem. Love you guys and your work, peace!

Syed Rizvi


Hi Team. NL Hafta is my weekend fix for news and opinion from back home in India. Thanks for doing a great job. In Hafta 459, Prateek mentioned about the opposition not being up for the fight. Not knowing the election process, I am curious and hope you can clarify. Is it just that the BJP is so well-organised, or does money via electoral bonds and the RSS cadre give the BJP this advantage?



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