Understanding the Middle East: Agudath Israel and Machzikei Hadas launch new lecture series with renowned experts

Nora Gold’s Fields of Exile is the first novel to examine anti-Zionism on university campuses. (Photo: Chris Frampton)

Nora Gold’s Fields of Exile is the first novel to examine anti-Zionism on university campuses. (Photo: Chris Frampton)

Kasim Hafeez, once a radical Israel-hater, now leads a pro-Israel advocacy group.

Kasim Hafeez, once a radical Israel-hater, now leads a pro-Israel advocacy group.

Bar Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg is the founder of NGO Monitor, which tracks and assesses media coverage of Israel. (Photo: NGO Monitor)

Bar Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg is the founder of NGO Monitor, which tracks and assesses media coverage of Israel. (Photo: NGO Monitor)

By Alex Griller
for Agudath Israel and Machzikei Hadas

Agudath Israel Congregation and Congregation Machzikei Hadas are co-sponsoring “The Middle East: Power, Passion, Politics,” a series five lectures at which renowned guest speakers offer fascinating, entertaining, and highly informed perspectives on the Middle East.

The first lecture, “Survival Skills 101 for Israel,” with former Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Service official Moti Kedar took place January 21 at Agudath Israel.

Still to come are the following lectures:

Kasim Hafeez will speak on “The Day I Stopped Hating Israel: Confessions of an ex-radical,” on Wednesday, February 25, 7:30 pm, at Machzikei Hadas.

“By the time I had reached 18, I was completely indoctrinated to the fold of radical Islamism. My hate for Israel and for the Jews was fuelled by images of death and destruction,” explains Hafeez, who grew up a British Muslim, born to parents of Pakistani origin.

Now based in Winnipeg, his beliefs were transformed as a result of a long, tortured process of rigorous self-examination and wide-ranging research.

The founder of the pro-Israel advocacy group, The Israel Campaign, his journey from rabid anti-Semite and Israel-hater is a mesmerizing story that demanded he show enormous courage, stand in the face of all he had been raised to believe and cast off the dogma taught to him since birth.

A deeply moving speaker, his grasp of the problem of violent radicalization in democratic society is unsurpassed. He has lived it, and rejected it.

Nora Gold will speak on “Combatting the New Vilification of Israel on Campus,” on Sunday, April 19, 7:30 pm, at Agudath Israel.

To say that Nora Gold is a “powerhouse” is an understatement. A highly respected academic in the fields of social work and research, she has served on dozens of boards and committees from the Autism Society of Canada to the Canadian Jewish Congress, has worked as an expert for the Ontario Hate Crimes Commission and was a co-founder of the New Israel Fund of Canada.

Gold founded and is editor of www.Jewishfiction.net, a prestigious online literary journal and is author of Fields of Exile, the first novel to examine and explore anti-Zionism on university campuses.

The novel is described by the publisher as “a moving story of love, betrayal, and the courage to stand up for what one believes. It delivers a searing indictment of the hypocrisy and intellectual sloth that threaten the integrity of our society.”

Fields of Exile has received enthusiastic reviews in many publications including the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin (August 25, 2014).

Professor Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University and the president of NGO Monitor, which tracks and assesses international media approaches to Israel and the movement to de-legitimize Israel, will offer two lectures: “How to Defeat the Political War Against Israel,” on Thursday, May 28, 7:45 pm, at Machzikei Hadas; and “How Human Rights Are Used As Weapons Against Israel,” on Sunday, May 31, 9:45 am, at Agudath Israel.

A highly respected academic, Steinberg has also been active in the development of Israeli government policy as an adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Steinberg has his finger securely on the day-to-day pulse and realities of Middle East politics and is a thought-
provoking speaker whose sometimes unorthodox ideas educate and inform
on all the relevant issues in the Middle East.

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