US-Israel Relationship: Debate in Tel Aviv
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A Times of Israel Event

US-Israel Relationship: Debate in Tel Aviv

A special debate between J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami and Dan Diker, the former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, will take place this coming Sunday, January 26

A worker hangs an election campaign billboard of the Likud party shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and US President Donald Trump in Tel Aviv, Israel  on September 8, 2019. Hebrew on billboard reads 'Netanyahu, in another league.' (AP/Oded Balilty)
A worker hangs an election campaign billboard of the Likud party shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and US President Donald Trump in Tel Aviv, Israel on September 8, 2019. Hebrew on billboard reads 'Netanyahu, in another league.' (AP/Oded Balilty)

This coming Sunday, January 26, in partnership with the Tel Aviv International Salon, we will be hosting a special debate event between J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami and Dan Diker, the former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, moderated by ToI’s Amanda Borschel-Dan.

The US relationship is one of Israel’s most important strategic pillars. There is a growing disagreement among groups branding themselves as “pro-Israel” on how to best navigate this geopolitical alliance. Beyond the nuances in changes to political leadership and public opinion, various factions in the Jewish world often have tremendous differences in vision and strategy.

ToI’s Jewish world editor Amanda Borschel-Dan will moderate a debate between two ideological rivals on how best to secure the US-Israel relationship, touching upon issues such as the peace process, settlements, Iran, and more. The debate is between J Street’s founder Jeremy Ben-Ami and Dan Diker, who is the former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress and current senior project director at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he heads the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS. 

Fun fact: These two rivals from different sides of the political debate went to high school together.

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the president of J Street, bringing to the role experience in American politics and government and in the State of Israel. Ben-Ami’s family connection to Israel goes back 130 years to the First Aliyah when his great-grandparents were among the first settlers in Petah Tikva. His grandparents were one of the founding families of Tel Aviv, and his father was an activist and leader in the Irgun, working for Israel’s independence and the rescue of European Jews before and during World War II.

His political resume includes serving in the mid-1990s as the deputy domestic policy adviser in the White House to president Bill Clinton and working on seven presidential and numerous state and local campaigns. He was Howard Dean’s national policy director in 2004 and helped manage a mayoral campaign in New York City in 2001. For nearly three years in the late 90s, Jeremy lived in Israel, where he started a consulting firm working with Israeli nonprofit organizations and politicians. He was chosen by American news organization the Forward for three years as part of the Forward 50, its compilation of the most influential Jewish Americans. He was one of 50 “People of the Decade” selected by Israeli daily Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post included him in its list of the 50 Most Influential Jews in the world. Ben-Ami received a law degree from New York University and is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Relations at Princeton University.

Dan Diker is a fellow and senior project director at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he heads the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS. He has edited several books on the Iranian regime and Israel’s national security doctrine and has authored several on the global BDS movement, including: “BDS Unmasked: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends” (2016), “Defeating Denormalization” (2018), “Students for Justice in Palestine Unmasked” (2017, 2018), and “The PACBI Deception: Unmasked” (2019).

Diker is also a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism, IDC Herzliya, and has provided commentary on Middle East affairs on Israeli and global networks ILTV, Channel 20, Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, Russia Today and the Turkish TRT International. He is a former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, the global diplomatic organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries. He received a BA cum laude in American History from Harvard University and an MA in Israeli Government and Counter Terrorism Policy, summa cum laude, from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. He immigrated to Israel in 1990 and resides in the settlement of Efrat near Jerusalem with his wife Ofira and five children.  

Our Salon debate will be moderated by ToI and hosted in Tel Aviv at the Social Space in Kikar Atarim (formerly The Colosseum), which has revitalized a landmark venue at the end of Ben Gurion Boulevard overlooking Gordon Beach. The goal of The Social Space is to create a welcoming environment and active arena for social entrepreneurs. The venue is a JTLV donation for the benefit of community and Jewish values.

The Tel Aviv International Salon is the largest speakers forum in Israel. The nonprofit organization was established in 2009 to provide a challenging and thought-provoking nonpartisan platform for the Tel Aviv young professional community. With an increasing number of motivated young adults from around the globe choosing to make Tel Aviv their home, the Salon provides a unique forum to learn, debate and discuss Israeli, Jewish and world politics, economics, society, and culture with a diverse range of engaging decision makers and leading influencers. www.TLVSalon.com

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