BY DEBORAH MOON
On a Thoughtful Thursday morning, American-born Israeli author and scholar Yossi Klein Halevi shared his insights on a variety of topics important to Israel and U.S-Israel relations.
A senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Halevi co-directs the Institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative, which teaches emerging young Muslim American leaders about Judaism, Jewish identity and Israel. His goal is to prepare the next generation of American Muslim leaders for a deeper, more meaningful engagement with the American Jewish community.
Thoughtful Thursday is a free monthly Zoom program featuring thoughtful conversation with world-renowned speakers presented by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. Most programs are in the evening, but this second program was held at 9 am local time since Halevi was speaking from Jerusalem.
Halevi responded to questions from JFGP President and CEO Marc Blattner and audience members. He addressed Israel’s handling of the pandemic, the significance of the Abraham Accords, the political situation in Israel, his hope that America maintains bipartisan support for Israel after this year’s election and his most recent book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.
He called the Abraham Accords “a passionate peace agreement” that has given Israel “an Arab ally” for the first time in its 70-year history. He hopes that, together, Israel and its new allies will empower moderate Palestinians, so a two-state solution comes to fruition.
He has taken a more personal approach to that effort in Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, which was translated into Arabic and is available for free download.
“I wrote the book to tell our story to the Palestinians… to unpack the complexities of Israeli identity and to invite Palestinians to respond with their own story,” he says, adding he has received hundreds of responses from Palestinians. A new edition of the book will feature about 50 of those responses.
To see the talk, visit jewishportland.org/thoughtfulthursday. Registration for future programs is also available on that site.
The next Thoughtful Thursday is 7 pm, Nov. 19. It features Rabbi Elka Abrahamson, president of The Wexner Foundation.