Jonathan S. Tobin and J. J. Goldberg, two of the most prominent writers on Israel and Jewish affairs, will debate the future of the Jewish State in a public conversation hosted by University of Michigan’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor. The event, part of the Frankel Speaker Series, will take place in Rackham Graduate School’s Amphitheatre on March 22 at 7:00 pm, and will be free and open to the public.
Jonathan S. Tobin, contributing writer to National Review, columnist for New York Post and Israel Hayom, will offer a conservative viewpoint. J. J. Goldberg, editor at large of The Forward and former U.S. bureau chief of The Jerusalem Report, will offer a liberal perspective. The debate, to be moderated by Jeffrey Veidlinger, Director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, will focus on the current political climate in the U.S. and Israel. The writers will discuss what we can expect from the new Trump administration and the future of the two-state solution, as well as a range of other political issues.
Goldberg commented, “Israelis debate passionately over questions that are tearing our community apart. Israelis agree that Israel must be kept safe while maintaining her values, even though they disagree over how to do that. We in this country tend to suspect that those who don’t agree with our methods probably don’t share our goals. My aim in this program — our aim, I believe — is to bring home the real discussion Israelis are having over how to reach our common goal. And perhaps to show how we can learn from each other when we listen.”
Goldberg has also served as the managing editor of The Jewish Week of New York, and editor in chief of the Labor Zionist monthly Jewish Frontier. His books include Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment, Builders and Dreamers, and The Jewish Americans.
“I want American Jews to understand that Israel has repeatedly chosen peace while its foes have chosen continuing conflict,” stated Tobin. “Unless that basic equation changes, peace will not happen — no matter how many concessions are made by the Jewish state. But just as important, if not more so, our debate aims to show that you can disagree passionately on important issues while still being civil. You can offer reasoned arguments rather than invective or delegitimization. Our community and, indeed, the nation need this lesson now more than ever.”
Previous to writing for the National Review, Tobin was the first executive editor and then senior online editor and chief political blogger for Commentary magazine. Before that he was editor in chief of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia and the Connecticut Jewish Ledger. His writing also has appeared in the Weekly Standard, the Christian Science Monitor, and the American Spectator. He has been a columnist for the Forward, Britain’s Jewish Chronicle and authored a long-running column in The Jerusalem Post.
In addition to debating issues of contemporary political relevance, the two also hope to model respectful dialogue about contentious issues.