Israel Today Forum tackles the timely topic of Geopolitics

April 18, 2014

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Robert Satloff

Robert Satloff

Thursday, May 1, 7 pm

With Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations at a contentious and critical point— the nine-month deadline for the American mediated discussions is April 29—Robert Satloff will have plenty to discuss as the featured Israel Today Forum speaker.

The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and community partners, including the Simon Family JCC’s Celebrate Israel series, host Satloff in a conversation about geopolitics and Israel. Israel Today takes place at the Sandler Family Campus, and is free and open to the public.

Satloff is the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a D.C.-based think tank. He is a frequent guest on major news shows, a respected writer for newspapers and periodicals, and hosts a satellite TV public affairs program that reaches a weekly audience of billions throughout the Middle East.

In Virginia Beach, Satloff will share his expert views and analysis about the peace talks, other current events in the Middle East—in relation to Israel, the United States, and the Tidewater community–, as well as his views on U.S. policy in that region and around the world.

In particular, Satloff says he will speak about how Israel fits into the three big current political topics in the Middle East—negotiations over Syria, over Iran, and over the Palestinians.

The reality of the situation, Satloff says, is that Israelis are trying to find security in a world where there are a lot of “moving parts.”

“It really doesn’t suffice just to try to understand Israel’s security dilemma through a single lens,” says Satloff. “So we are going to have a very serious conversation about this very complex environment in which Israel finds itself.”

Satloff will also explore the current evolution of the political relationship between the U.S. and Israel. The impact of this relationship is enormous, he says, not just between the two countries, but also in how adversaries view Israel’s strength, solidity power in the Middle East.

“If you think about a clash that the United States and Israel may have over, say, West Bank settlements, people don’t recognize the powerful repercussions that can have for Israel’s deterrent posture in the region,” says Satloff.

Beyond Israeli politics, Satloff will make a case for much greater American—and Jewish community—involvement in Syria.

“I think we have special responsibility here, and we are failing,” he says. “That responsibility is to do everything we can to prevent genocide. Our community really needs to step up.”

Current events in Ukraine, too, will be discussed.

“What’s happening in Ukraine is a reminder that history didn’t end,” says Satloff. “It is a reminder that the world of the 21st century is not going to be only Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin, of Facebook and Google. It’s also going to be the Putins of this world, where old-fashioned, hard power matters, and you have to recognize that for what it is.”

The way the United States is responding to the conflict in Ukraine, while seemingly unrelated, does affect Israel, Satloff says. If the United States is viewed around the world as a power that is not able to roll back aggression, or not able to effectively counter such events, will Israel’s security be weakened?

Satloff’s dedication to the Washington Institute’s goal of improving U.S. Middle East policy has been a major part of his life since he was named executive director in 1993. For the past eight years, another significant part of his life has been his Dakhil Washington (Inside Washington) TV show—which opens and closes with essays he delivers in Arabic.

Satloff wears another hat as well—that of scholar, researcher and expert on what happened in Arabic countries during the Holocaust.

“This year, I’m quite honored to be the first-ever Director’s Fellow of the Holocaust Museum,” says Satloff. “I’m involved in a big project that looks at the Jewish resistance in North Africa, and the American policy toward the Jews there.”

Satloff wrote the 2006 bestseller, Among the Righteous: Lost Stories of the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab Lands, which became the subject of a PBS documentary in 2010.

The Community Relations Council has links to several recent presentations Satloff has participated in at the Washington Institute. To see these links, for more information about Israel Today, more upcoming CRC events, and for valuable community resources, visit JewishVa.org/CRC.

RSVP for this event at JewishVa.org/CRC, or call 757-965-6107.

by Laine Mednick Rutherford

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