The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia strongly condemns hate speech in our community and throughout the world. When anti-Semitic hate speech was expressed by Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, we immediately took action with national and local partners. We have and will continue to condemn comments that reject the state of Israel and the Jewish connection to our homeland.

Could a two-state solution bring peace to Israel and Palestine? Or is it bound to only exacerbate tensions? Is it Israel’s responsibility to continue negotiations? Or have they sacrificed too much already while receiving nothing in return? Is a two-state solution even possible?

The path to peace in the Middle East is a heated topic and to some, these questions may be contentious. But for Jonathan Tobin, editor in chief of the Jewish News Service, and J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large of the Forward, each question instead presents an opportunity for a civil exchange of opposing viewpoints. On February 8th, they will do just that, when the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Jewish Community Relations Council hosts the two of them in conversation at Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen.

For the past year, Jonathan and J.J. have travelled around the country publicly conversing about the Middle East, adapting their conversation to current events and audience questions. With incredible depth and conviction, each articulates his position on topics such as U.S. foreign policy, Israel-Palestine negotiations, the U.N. and global terrorism.

Though staunch in their ideological views, Jonathan and J.J. — on the Right and Left, respectively — are actually less concerned with their differences than their commonalities. Says Jonathan, “We share some core beliefs: a love of Israel and Zionism, a belief in trying to work for the betterment of Jewish people.” J.J. agrees: “It’s not about who is right or who is wrong on the details. It is about understanding each other and listening to each other.”

Their goal is not to win a debate, but to model courteous discourse and attentive listening. Fearing that as we each embed ourselves in our individual echo chambers we become dangerously closed off, these two top Jewish-American thinkers believe that through dialogue we come to understand ourselves and the world around us more fully. When we remain open, we build empathy, compassion and respect. And, of course, we learn — discovering alternative perspectives and solutions. “We hope this conversation will be the rebirth of dialogue within our community,” Jonathan says.

Click here to RSVP for Civil Dialogue for Uncivil Times on October 29, 2018 at Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen.