Meet exceptional experts from around the world
Presented by Holy Blossom Israel Engagement Committee. With help from our Promotional Sponsors: The Reform Jewish Community of Canada (RJCC), ARZA Canada, ARZA, the Canadian Zionist Federation (CZF), and The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University
With gratitude to Helena and David Fine for their generous gift of sponsorship
Thursdays and Fridays, 12:00 pm (With Exceptions)
The Israel Dialogues provides an opportunity to engage fundamental issues facing the country, its people, and the Jewish diaspora. Join experts from various backgrounds from around the world to discuss a range of topics focusing on the regional and international contexts and principal factors which affect Israel’s place in global affairs.
January 14 @10 AM (EST) – China’s Asymmetric Competitiveness in a New Middle East
- Gangzheng She, Tsinghua University, Beijing
January 21 @12PM (EST) – Gulliver’s Troubles – America and the Middle East
- Aaron David Miller, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
THURSDAY, January 27 @ 12PM (EST) – Changing Conceptions of National Security in Israel
- Gabi Ben-Dor, University of Haifa
February 4 @ 12PM (EST) – Iran – the State, Ideology, Religion, Politics, and the Region
- Meir Litvak, Tel-Aviv University
THURSDAY, February 10 @ 12PM (EST) – Nuclear Politics: Negotiations, Threats, Coercive Diplomacy
- Sima Shine, INSS, Tel-Aviv
February 18 @12 PM (EST) – Israel in a Rapidly Changing Regional (Dis-)order
- Asher Susser, Tel-Aviv University
THURSDAY, February 24 @12PM (EST) – Israel-Arab Normalization
- Mark Heller, INSS, Tel-Aviv
March 4 @12PM (EST) – The Heart of the Matter: Israel and the Palestinians
- Ahmad Samih Khalidi, Oxford University & IPS, Beirut
March 11 @12PM (EST) – Israel & the United Nations: a troubled partnership
- John McNee, Former Canadian Ambassador to the UN
- Masud Husain, Former Canadian Ambassador to the UAE
March 18 @ 12PM (EST) – The EU and the Middle East
- Gerhard Schlaudraff, Embassy of Germany, Ottawa
- Costanza Musu, University of Ottawa
March 25 @ 12PM (EST) – Germany, Israel, and the shadow of the Holocaust
- Michael Brenner, University of Munich
- Johannes Becke, Hochschule für jüdische Studien in Heidelberg
Expert Panellist Bios:
Professor Derek Penslar is the William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History at Harvard University. His research specialties are modern Jewish history in Europe, Israel, and North America. Between 1998 and 2016, Derek held the Samuel Zacks Chair in Jewish History at U of T, and between 2012 and 2016, he was the inaugural holder of the Stanley Lewis Chair in Modern Israel Studies at Oxford. Derek has written a number of books, including Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe, Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective; Jews and the Military: A History; and, most recently, Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader (2020). Derek is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and president of the American Academy for Jewish Research.
Mark S. Anshan is a lawyer and a former Canadian diplomat, serving on several non-profit boards. He provides legal, business, strategic and organisational advice to not-for-profits and charities. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he served in the Canadian Foreign Service at the United Nations and the Canadian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. Mark is a past President of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, and past President of ARZA Canada and past Chair of ARZENU.
Professor David Dewitt joined York University in 1983, following studies at UBC, University of Chicago, and Stanford University and appointments at UBC and U of Alberta. He is now University Professor Emeritus & Senior Scholar, International Relations. Author and editor of 11 books on international affairs and foreign policy, he served from 1988-2006 as Director, York Centre for International & Security Studies (YCISS), two terms as York’s Associate Vice-President Research & Innovation, followed by a four-year leave of absence as Vice President Research & Programs at the independent think tank, Centre for International Governance & Innovation (CIGI). He is currently an advisor to the recently established Canadian think tank, International Peace & Diplomacy (IPD).
Jon Allen was Canada’s Ambassador to Israel from 2006-2010. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto and at Glendon College, York University and a Distinguished Fellow of the Canada International Council. He is the President of Project Rozana, a not for profit whose objective is to build bridges between Palestinians and Israelis via the health sector, and a Member of the Board of Transparency International Canada.
Professor Howard Adelman retired as Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at York University in 2003. He was the founder and director of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies and editor of Refuge for ten years. Best known for his work in applied philosophy, he co-authored a major study entitled Early Warning and Conflict Management: Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda (1996) as part of the 5-volume study International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience. In December 2016, Adelman was named a Member of the Order of Canada.
Dylan Hanley is currently Director, Public Affairs with The U15, advocating on behalf of Canada’s leading research universities to the federal government. Prior to his role with The U15, Dylan spent almost a decade with CIJA, Canada’s leading Jewish advocacy organization, where he was responsible for government relations and university outreach. His work there included dealing with federal and provincial governments, senior university administrations, and working to build bridges between Canada and Israel around issues of innovation and R&D. Since leaving CIJA, Dylan continues strong involvement in the Canadian Jewish community, notably in building Canada-Israel partnerships in science and innovation, including as Canadian co-chair of the bilateral working group on research partnerships with Global Affairs Canada.
Expert Guest Bios:
Dr. Gangzheng She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Dr. She’s research focuses on the intersection of Middle East and diplomatic history and his works have been published by leading academic journals such as the Journal of Cold War Studies and the Chinese Journal of International Politics. He teaches multiple undergraduate- and graduate-level courses at Tsinghua, including War and Evolution in the Middle East, Study of Conflict Resolution, and Contemporary History of International Relations. Dr. She received a B.A. in Hebrew Language and Culture from Peking University and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) from Brandeis University.
Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on U.S. foreign policy. He has written five books, including his most recent, The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President (Palgrave, 2014) and The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace (Bantam, 2008). He received his PhD in Middle East and U.S. diplomatic history from the University of Michigan in 1977. Between 1978 and 2003, Miller served at the State Department as an historian, analyst, negotiator, and advisor to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, where he helped formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East and the Arab-Israel peace process, most recently as the senior advisor for Arab-Israeli negotiations. He also served as the deputy special Middle East coordinator for Arab-Israeli negotiations, senior member of the State Department’s policy planning staff, in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and in the office of the historian. He has received the department’s Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor Awards. Miller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and formerly served as resident scholar at the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has been a featured presenter at the World Economic Forum and leading U.S. universities. Between 2003 and 2006 he served as president of Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence. From 2006 to 2019, Miller was a public policy scholar; vice president for new initiatives, and director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Miller is a global affairs analyst for CNN. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Foreign Policy, USAToday, and CNN.com. He is a frequent commentator on NPR, BBC, and Sirius XM radio.
Gabriel Ben-Dor is Professor of Political Science at the University of Haifa in Israel. He holds a doctorate in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Princeton University in the United States. He served as the Rector of the University, and also held the posts of Chairman of the Department of Political Science, Director of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, and Dean of Research. Previously he held the elected position of President of the Israel Political Science Association. Until recently he directed the graduate study program at the National Defense College, the highest course of the studies in the Israeli Defense Forces. He was also the founder and director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa. He has recently completed a six-year term as a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Middle East Studies. For over twenty years Ben-Dor lectured at the Royal College of Defense Studies in London, England, one of the leading institutions for national security affairs in the world.
Gabriel Ben-Dor has published seven books and over one hundred and twenty articles in scholarly journals on Middle East politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict, national security affairs, strategic studies, ethnic problems, and political theory. His books include Transition in Israel, Confidence Building in the Middle East (with David Dewitt), and Minorities in the Arab World. Recent articles address the concept of strategic culture and action in the Middle East, civil-military relations in Israel, the evolution of national security doctrines in Israel, the political sociology of national security in Israel, national resilience of democracies facing terrorism, and the tension between democratic values on the one hand, and challenges of national security on the other. At present, he is at work on a major book dealing with the problems of countering terrorism in democratic societies.
Meir Litvak (PhD Harvard University, 1991) is a Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern History and a senior research associate at the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. His research focuses on Modern Iranian and Shi`I history, modern Islamic movements, and Arab anti-Semitism. Among his publications: Shici Scholars of Nineteenth Century Iraq: The cUlama’ of Najaf and Karbala’ (Cambridge University Press, 1998); Co-author with Moshe Aharonov, Iran: From a Persian Empire to an Islamic Revolution (Open University of Israel, 2014, Hebrew); Co-author with Esther Webman, From Empathy to Denial: Arabic Responses to the Holocaust (Columbia University Press, 2009). His book Know Thy Enemy: Evolving Attitudes towards “Others” in Modern Shiʻi Thought and Practice was published by Brill in 2021.
Sima Shine is currently the head of Iran program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). For most of her career, Ms. Shine served in the Israeli Intelligence Community. Her last position was Head of the Research & Evaluation Division of the Mossad (2003-2007). In this capacity, she was in charge of the production of both daily and periodical evaluations on Middle Eastern and international issues, led security and intelligence dialogues with various counterparts in the international community, and was involved in political-military meetings with decision makers. After her retirement from the Mossad, Shine served as Deputy Head of Strategic Affairs in Israel’s National Security Council (2008-2009) and then (2009 -2016) served in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, where she was responsible, inter alia, for the Iranian file and was deputy Director General.
Asher Susser is Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University (TAU). He was the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at TAU for twelve years and taught for over thirty-five years in TAU’s Department of Middle Eastern History. He has been a Fulbright Fellow; a visiting professor at Cornell University, the University of Chicago, Brandeis University, and the Stein Family Professor of Modern Israel Studies at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Israel, Jordan and Palestine; The Two-State Imperative. His online course on The Emergence of the Modern Middle East has been taken by some 120,000 students in over 160 countries.
Mark A. Heller is Principal Research Associate at the Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University, and Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute, Wasington, DC. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Economics at the University of Toronto and did his graduate studies at Harvard University, where he earned an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and a Ph.D. in Political Science. He has been affiliated with the INSS/Jaffee Center since 1979 and has taught international relations at Tel-Aviv University and at several American universities, including Cornell and Harvard. He has also served as Coordinator of Research at the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security in 1991, Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Visiting Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. Dr. Heller has written extensively on Middle Eastern political and strategic issues in Israeli and foreign academic and journalistic publications.
Dr. Ahmad Samih Khalidi is a Palestinian from an old Jerusalemite family. He was educated at Oxford and London Universities and is currently Academic Visitor at St Antony’s College, Oxford and an Associate Fellow at the Center for Security Policy, Geneva, and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Palestine Studies, (IPS) Beirut. He was editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies (Arabic edition) published by the IPS between 1990-2020, and has served as advisor to the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid/Washington peace talks in 1991-1993 and as senior advisor on security to the Cairo-Taba PLO-Israeli talks in 1993. He was co-chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences project on Israeli-Palestinian security in 1993-1995 and Associate Fellow of the Middle East program at Chatham House (Royal Institute for International Affairs) in 1995-96. He has been active in Palestinian politics for five decades and has written widely on Middle Eastern political and strategic affairs in both English and Arabic. His has published in Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Cairo Review, Prospect, and OpenDemocracy, amongst others. His books (co-written with Hussein Agha) include Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation (Chatham House, 1995) Track-2 Diplomacy; Lessons from the Middle East (MIT Press, 2003) and A Palestinian National Security Framework (Chatham House, 2006).
John McNee, a career Foreign Service Officer, served in Tel Aviv (1986-89) as First Secretary of the Embassy and previously in Madrid. He was Ambassador to Syria with concurrent accreditation as ambassador to Lebanon 1993-97, subsequently Ambassador to Belgium and Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe and, from 2006-2011, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. In Ottawa, he served in various capacities including as Director General for the Middle East and North Africa and Assistant Deputy Minister for Africa/Middle East. In his second career, he was from 2011-2019 the first Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa . Currently, he is a Senior Fellow at Ottawa University’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and serves on philanthropic boards.
Johannes Becke (PhD, Freie Universität Berlin, 2014) is professor of Israel and Middle East Studies at the Heidelberg Center for Jewish Studies/Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg (currently on sabbatical). Since 2021, he is also leading the research group “Gathering the Dispersed. State Evasion and State-Making in Modern Jewish, Kurdish and Berber History” at the HCTS (sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation). Before his appointment in Heidelberg, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford (2014-15) and a visiting fellow at Tel Aviv University (2013-14), the Orient-Institut Beirut (2011), and the Centre Jacques Berque in Rabat (2011). He is the author of the volume The Land Beyond the Border. State Formation and Territorial Expansion in Syria, Morocco and Israel (SUNY Press, 2021) and the co-editor of Israel Studies. History, Methods, Paradigms (Wallstein, 2020, in German). Together with Frederek Musall and Beyza Arslan, he is directing the podcast “Mecca and Jerusalem” (in German) on Muslim-Jewish relations (sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation). In cooperation with Michael Brenner and Daniel Mahla, he is organizing the Research Colloquium on Israel and the Middle East.
Michael Brenner is the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies and director of the Center for Israel Studies at American University. He also holds the chair of Jewish History and Culture at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and serves as International President of the Leo Baeck Institute for the Study of German-Jewish History and chairs the Academic Advisory Board of the Franz Rosenzweig Center at the Hebrew University Jerusalem. In 2020 he was the first recipient of the first Baron Award for Scholarly Excellence in Research of the Jewish Experience. He has published widely on German-Jewish history and Israel. His latest publication is In Hitler’s Munich: Jews, the Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism, forthcoming with Princeton University Press.
Masud Husain retired from Canada’s foreign service in the summer of 2021. Upon his retirement, he was Director-General and Deputy Legal Adviser at Global Affairs Canada. Prior to this appointment, he was Canada’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi and Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. His other foreign postings include Canada’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and embassies in the Netherlands, Jordan and Syria. At Global Affairs Canada’s headquarters in Ottawa, his other notable appointments include the Director-General for the Middle East and the Executive Director of the Criminal and Diplomatic Law Division.