2017 Topic Summaries

Arab-Israeli Wars: Winners and Losers
Serge Frolov

In less than 70 years of its existence, Israel has had to fight five major wars and countless smaller military engagements with its neighbors. Serge Frolov shall examine the root causes of these conflicts and discuss why despite winning all these battles, Israel never seems to achieve a decisive victory.

Limited to Sessions Two and Four

Background of BDS, Origin and Effects
Charles Pulman

What does BDS stand for? When and why did the BDS movement get started? Who is behind this movement? Learn the basics of the BDS movement from one who has been studying and fighting this movement. Learn why the real objective is to delegitimize Israel. By recognizing who are financially supporting the BDS movement, and how, one may gain greater knowledge as to how to effectively combat it. While the BDS movement is principally directed at Israel, Israel’s supporters, and Israeli commerce, learn why and how these activities adversely affect others.  And finally, how has this BDS movement infiltrated other institutions, like Black Lives Matter and the United Nations itself, institutions that were originally created to protect those rights that are now being attacked by these very same institutions.

Limited to Session One

Basic Understanding of Israeli Political System
Yoram Solomon

While the United States and Israel are both democracies, the Israeli system of government is a parliamentary democracy, deriving its power from the legislative branch, or the Knesset, while the United States government derives its power from a constitutional check and balance system. Yoram Solomon will address the basics of the political system of the State of Israel, so as to give you a better understanding of the political nuances of the system and the reasons for the jockeying of the various parties to maintain control or affect the control of the Knesset.

Limited to Sessions Two and Four

Combating anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities on High School and College Campuses
Panel discussion by experts in this field

The new battleground are the campuses where attempts are ongoing to twist the minds of our Jewish youth against those very principles upon which they have been raised, against Israel and the moral foundation upon which Israel was founded, and finally, against  Judaism itself. Learn from panelists who have been, and still are, engaged in the everyday fight against BDS on both High School and College campuses. Learn the techniques for this fight by what seems to be working, and what appears to be not. Learn what organizations, like Hillel and Stand With Us, are succeeding, and which are still struggling. This is a panel discussion which has been particularly designed for parents to help their teens effectively confront these issues.

Limited to Session One

Combating BDS activities by Federal and State Legislation
Co-speakers Stephanie Hausner and Jacob Millner

What a great opportunity to learn about the challenges and successes that typified the extraordinary efforts of the many who worked together to have the State of Texas pass anti-BDS legislation. Learn the details of this legislation from the panelists who worked to obtain such legislation. Also learn about the successes that have been achieved in almost half of the states of the United States passing similar anti-BDS state legislation, with other states now considering this legislation itself. What type of opposition was encountered? What steps were taken to overcome this opposition? In Texas? In the other states? Our panel will discuss all of that. And then listen what is happening in Congress to combat the BDS movement. And then learn what you can do to assist combating BDS activities in your community.

Limited to Sessions One and Two


Confronting Modern Anti-Semitism
Cheryl Drazin

Anti-Semitism manifests itself in many forms; vandalism, assault and harassment. Cheryl Drazin takes a deep look at the proliferation of hate on the internet and how technology is responding to anti-Semitic harassment that occurs online.  Cheryl will discuss social media and e-commerce as incubators for growing hate and how we should all be responding to it.

Limited to Sessions One, Two and Three

Cultural Conflicts Arising out of Israel’s Diverse Immigration
Rabbi Ariel Boxman

In this session, Rabbi Ariel Boxman will discuss the history of cultural conflicts that have arisen in Modern Day Israel due to the influx of immigrants from many different countries.  The session will include a variety of Israeli film clips, historical documents and a great discussion about cultural conflicts in Israel.

Limited to Sessions One and Three

Do we have the Right and/ or Obligation to Criticize Israel and are there Restrictions on such Criticism?
Panelists: Rabbi Daniel Utley, Rabbi Elana Zelony, Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman, Rabbi Andrew Paley and Rabbi Daniel Pressman

How do we, not citizens of Israel, have the right to object to Israeli actions?  But isn’t Israel our homeland also? We are not part of the Israel Defense Forces. So, why do we have the right tell the Israeli military what to do? Because Israel is the land of our forefathers and mothers, don’t we have a vested interest in what she does? And, if we criticize Israel, are we being anti-Israel?   When does our criticism cross the line? And, what is that line? These are just a few of the questions that we are all faced with every day. Come to this panel discussion and listen to these religious leaders share their opinions with one another and with you, and come with your questions.

Limited to Sessions Three and Four

Effective Israel Advocacy
Dawn Strauss

Given the complex issues that Israel faces today, and the increasing sophistication and media presence of those opposed to Israel, it is extremely important that pro-Israel advocates not only be knowledgeable of all the facts underlying these issues, but also effective in countering anti-Israel bias. Dawn Strauss, trained in effective debating, will work with you to create your own 3 minute Israel personal narrative, with the objective of your becoming an even more effective Israel advocate, thereby strengthening your leadership and your love for Israel.

Limited to Sessions One, Two and Four

How is the Middle East Changing under the Trump Administration?
Neil Lazarus

The election of Trump was predicted to send shock waves through the Middle East, but the reality is proving very different. Join Middle East expert Neil Lazarus in his two way video communication transmission with you, discussing the U.S. elections, the threat from Iran, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Lebanon; the crises in Syria and Egypt; and the future of the West Bank and the tensions within the Israeli Government.

Limited to Sessions Three and Four

History of anti-Semitism
Dr. Sara Abosch Jacobson

What are anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism? When and why did they emerge? What are the classical anti-Semitic tropes to watch for? This session will address these questions through a brief exploration of the history of anti-Semitism. Bring your questions.

Limited to Sessions Two, Three and Four

History of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
Raphael Danziger

At least since 1947, the eve of Israel’s birth, the Arabs—and especially the Palestinians—have consistently missed golden opportunities to create a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.  As the late foreign minister of Israel Abba Eban quipped, “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” And, while there may be humor in that phrase, the tragedy inherent in that statement is still affecting both Israelis and Palestinians.

Raphael Danziger traces the history of the Israeli/Arab conflict from these early days until the present, specifically addressing times in that history when peace could have been achieved, but was not. Raphael Danziger discusses the respective mind sets of the leaders of the Palestinians and of Israel and contemplates what else could have been done to achieve peace.

History of the U.S./ Israel Relationship
Ambassador(ret) Yoram Ettinger

Ambassador(ret) Yoram Ettinger will summarize the historical relationship of the U.S. to Israel, from 1947-8, when the U.S. State Department opposed even the establishment of the Jewish State. Thereafter, during the 1948/49 War of Independence, the U.S. president imposed an arms embargo on arms to the Middle East, while the British supplied arms to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. Then Following the 1948/49 War, the U.S. Administration dismissed a proposal by General Omar Bradley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, to elevate Israel to a major strategic ally.

Thereafter, from 1948 through the early 21st Century, not only did essentially all U.S. presidents have substantial disagreements with whichever Israeli Prime Minister was in office at the time, but these U.S. presidents – supported by the Department of State – pressured Israel to grant major concessions what the U.S. considered the path to peace.

However, as Yoram Ettinger will explain in detail, current U.S.-Israel relations are not shaped, exclusively, by U.S. presidents, or their Administrations, but instead by the combination of the affinity of the U.S. people, Jews and non-Jews, toward the Jewish State, and by the pro-Israel activities of a co-equal branch – the U.S. Congress.

And what does Ambassador Ettinger find to be the result of this increased U.S.- Israel Cooperation? That you will learn when you come listen to, and ask questions of, one of the most knowledgeable experts on the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Limited to Sessions Two and Four

How Israel’s Political System has affected Israel’s Society and Culture
Asher Saida

Advance understanding of the Israeli Politics. Asher Saida, an Israeli-born political activist, will explain (i) the nuances between these systems, (ii) how the ultimate power has typically depended upon which political party is able to form a coalition with other parties to achieve the desired majority vote., and (iii) whether this is why Israel is principally a secular country. And, what about the current conflicts in the Knesset? Is Israel going through a major shift of political philosophy? Asher will explain all of that.

Limited to Sessions Two and Four

How the State of Israel Was Established
Serge Frolov

Tracing the history of the Zionist movement that created the State of Israel, Serge Frolov will offer facts to debunk three myths: 1) that Israel is based on Jewish belief in the Promised Land; 2) that Israel is a colonial entity based on displacement of native population and racism; and 3) that Jews were the aggressors in their conflict with Arabs.

Limited to Sessions One and Three

Importance of Lobbying for Israel on a Non-Partisan Basis
Kevin Pailet

The   ever – increasing diversity of the U.S. population, coupled with the existing fractures in our political spectrum, make it imperative that the successful lobbying for Israel must be on non-partisan basis, and therefore must appeal to the respective principles of the House or Senate member you have chosen to lobby, or to the up and coming politician that may soon be elected to the Senate or House.  As the changing demographics in the United States is resulting in an increase of non-Jewish voters compared to a decrease in pro-Israel Jewish voters, it is imperative that lobbying tactics take into consideration these changes. Non-partisan lobbying is the imperative.  Kevin Pailet has been aware of these imperative, and is ready to impart his knowledge and success to each of the attendees of this session. Come and learn the benefits of non-partisan lobbying.

Limited to Sessions Two and Four

Israeli Cyber-Security Technology
Co-Speakers Bob Epstein and Professor Boaz Golany

Israel has carved out a strong place in cybersecurity; playing a prominent role in cyber defense technology, research and development, and data protection.
Protecting Israel from threats at all levels, both on line and off, is a major focus of Israeli governmental strategy.

The largest military unit in the Israel Defense Forces is Unit 8200, Israel’s legendary elite cyber intelligence unit, a high-tech spy agency that is considered by intelligence analysts to be one of the most formidable of its kind in the world.

Limited to Sessions One, Three and Four

Israeli Food – The Wonders of Eggplants & Tahini
Eldad Jacobson

Wow! Who cannot remember those great Israeli delicacies we all had on past visits to Israel! Well, now, without the long plane ride, we can all sample, in the Dallas Metroplex, the falafel, the hummus, the tahini, and all of the other Israeli delicacies that remind us of our last, or make us look forward to our next, visit to Israel. Eldad Jacobson, Israeli born head chef of the Aaron (JCC) Community Center, will explain the historical background of these unique Israeli food items, and then prepare them for you to taste each morsel. And, if you are really attentive, he may even give you some recipe cards so you can make your favorites. Come, learn, and nosh.

Israeli Wine Tasting
Joshua Greenstein, Director of Israeli Wine Producers Association, and Josh Feldman, Region Director of Royal Wines, will present and lead a tasting of some of Israel’s finest wines. One of the world’s oldest and longest producing regions, Israel is now considered one of the emerging regions of the world for variety, innovation, and the world’s finest wines. These are kosher wines, but they are not your bubbe’s sweet wines! Taste for yourself.

Limited to Sessions Three and Four

Israel’s Changing Foreign Relations with China, Russia, Europe, and the Arab World
Ken Portnoy

As Israel’s relations with its traditional allies evolve, the State of Israel is leveraging its strengths to build new trade, foreign aid, and military alliances across the globe. Israel is building ties beyond North America and Western Europe to focus on Asia, Russia, Africa, and even the Arab World. Ken Portnoy will explain the extent of these new relationships, what Israel has in common with these “new friends,” and the long-term strategies behind the new ties.

Israel’s Desalinization Technology and Its Export to the World
Mark Ellison

As the earth becomes more and more arid, it becomes ever more important to look to the seas for relief. However, that means there must be an effective and efficient way in which the salt can be extracted before the water can be used for irrigation, human consumption, or otherwise. And, whenever there is a need, look to Israel to fill It, as evidenced by the Israeli company, IDE Technologies, which is the global leader in seawater desalinization, providing the water treatment technology and expertise to the world’s population. Come listen to Mark Ellison, a member of the “IDE family”, explain the inherent technology, how this desalinization technology has completely eliminated any water shortage for Israel, and how this technology has been exported by Israel to the world.

Limited to Sessions One, Two and Four

Israel’s Contributions to the United States
Co-Speakers Ambassador(ret) Yoram Ettinger and Dave Doneson

U.S./Israel cooperation has surged, dramatically, since Israel’s establishment in 1948, notwithstanding there has always been a substantial gap between the U.S. and Israeli on the Palestinian issue. For example, the U.S. has leveraged Israel’s special health, medical, educational and community organization programs in Africa and Asia, establishing- joint programs benefitting the fortunes of the Third World, while improving U.S. ties with benefitted countries.

The CEO of Intel stated that “Without Intel’s two manufacturing plants and four Research & Development centers in Israel, Intel would have been decimated by the global competition.” The CEO of Microsoft said that “Microsoft is becoming increasingly an Israeli company due to the impact of Microsoft’s Israeli Research & Development centers.” Over 200 U.S. global high-tech companies maintain R&D centers in Israel.

Not only has Israel become the leading laboratory for the U.S. commercial high-tech industries, but a critical battle-tested laboratory for the gigantic U.S. defense industries. Moreover, Israel has provided the U.S. critical intelligence – on conventional and non-conventional threats – which exceeds that which the U.S. receives from all NATO countries combined. equaling to five CIAs According to General Keegan, former chief of US Air Force Intelligence, “Israel equals five CIAs.”. Come to this lecture if you want facts to point out to your friends “why Israel is good for America.” And, all of these are in addition to the money that Israel pours back to the United States in the form of military spending.

Limited to Sessions One and Three

Israel Maintains Middle East Air Superiority – Thanks to the F-35 Fighter
Eric Fox

The F-35 military multi-role aircraft, currently the most advanced fighter jet in the world, has allowed Israel, purchaser of fifty of these aircraft, to defend itself from air attacks. Eric Fox, a head of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, the developer of the F-35, will talk about the history of development of this aircraft, as well as describe the extra – ordinary performance of this aircraft, using videos to emphasize not only its air fighting superiority, but the extraordinary technology associated with this fighter plane. (Hint – consider a helmet that allows the fighter pilot to simultaneously view enemy aircraft approaching from the front, behind, above, and below, without turning one’s head.) Then, thanks to Charles Pulman, view the exclusive photos of the touch down at an air force base in the Negev near Beersheba of two of the first F-35s ordered by Israel.

Limited to Sessions One, Two and Four

Israeli Missile Defenses – An Example of U.S./Israel Cooperation
Charles Perkins

Rockets aimed by Hamas at Israeli towns; threats of additional rockets from Syria and Lebanon; and, what about Iran, with long range missile capability and the expressed objective to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth?” And, what North Korea does with its missiles today, will that inspire Iran what it may do tomorrow?

How does Israel cope with these threats? As will be explained by Charles Perkins, a specialist in U.S./Israel missile defense collaboration, the answer so far is the strength of the U.S./Israel relationship. As Mr. Perkins will explain in detail, it was the collaboration of Israeli technology and funding support from the United States that resulted in the successful development of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives from the Hamas rocket attacks. And how this missile defense cooperation, including now on David Sling, Arrow, and other future Israeli missile defense systems designed to defend against longer and more extensive air missile strikes, has led to increased collaboration between the United States and Israel on other technology efforts . Mr. Perkins will discuss how this ever-increasing collaboration is benefiting the United States with advances on its own missile defense systems and emerging technology.

Limited to Sessions One, Three and Four

Long Term Effects of Israel’s Wars on Israeli Society
Itzhak Brook

Itzhak Brook will describe the historical background of the Yom Kippur War and its effects on Israeli society, as well as his own personal experiences and challenges as a battalion physician in the Sinai. He will also generally address the physical and psychological traumas with which Israeli soldiers cope, what effect religion has on these soldiers, the cost of war in human life and suffering, and the daily struggle for survival in fighting a war that threatens Israel’s existence.

Limited to Sessions One and Three

Texas – Israel Business Opportunities
Toba Hellerstein

Toba will discuss the significance of a strong business relationship between Texas and Israel, and both the economic and the political stakes. Texas and Israel have an incredible economic overlap when it comes to expertise on the one hand and needed innovation on the other in a myriad of industries (notably energy, water, defense, cyber-security, and biomedical). This economic overlap can be parlayed into economic interdependence, which has the power to keep the US and Israel close in a sustainable way which exists outside of any given government policy. Toba will discuss where this opportunity exists, and how we can leverage it to the benefit of not only our economies, but our societies as a whole.

Limited to Sessions Two, Three and Four

Understanding the Legal Right to the Land: The Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Resolutions
Robert Dean

One hundred years ago a remarkable letter with a surprising declaration was sent from Britain’s Foriegn Minister to one of the chief leaders in the Jewish community in England. That letter set forth a desire on the part of England to see Jews re-established in their national homeland in Palestine. For some today, this was a tragedy of injustice, but for others, this was the foundation for the modern Jewish State. But this letter, the Balfour Declaration, raises many questions: what legal force does it have? what did it mean by a ‘national home?’ what relevance does it have for today? and what is it’s significance for modern disputes over settlements, occupation, and the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict? For the last 10 years Dr. Dean has researched these questions and spoken with the leading authorities on the topic. The answers to these questions are mostly unknown, and where they are known, they are frequently ignored. But these answers may very well surprise you.

Limited to Sessions Two and Four

Why Evangelical Christians are pro-Israel
Robert Dean

Many Jews wonder why, after almost 1900 years of Christian anti-Semitism, it seems that Christians just love Israel. What has caused this change? The answer is both simple and a bit complex. To help, we will answer a number of questions: What exactly is an “evangelical?” How many are there? Why are they different from other Christians with regard to Israel? And do they have agendas that they may not be up front about?   These and other questions will be addressed as we come to understand the significant issues underlying the unique alliance between evangelical Christians and Israel.

Limited to Sessions One and Three

Why Israel is Important to American Jews
Deborah Niederman

God’s first promise of the Land of Israel is made to Abraham in the book of Genesis. Throughout the Torah, God even outlines the boundaries of the land in several additional promises to our people. Each promise from God was made in covenant with the people, reminding us that Israel is about so much more than land; it is about peoplehood, history, tradition and culture. Throughout wanderings for 2000 years in the diaspora, Deborah Niederman explains how the Jews have clung to the promise of the land and everything else Israel stood for, shaping us as a people as it continues to do so today.

Why is Israel such a source of Innovation and Technology
Yoram Solomon

Despite its small size and continuous existential threat, Israel ranks as one of the most innovative countries in the world, as measured by the number of patents filed, Nobel Prize Laureates, and number of technology companies traded in the US Stock Markets. Using findings from his doctoral research of creativity and his experiences serving in the Israeli Defense Forces and starting a startup company there, Yoram Solomon will explain why there is so much innovation coming out of Israel. He will identify two specific factors that are so much stronger in Israel that lead to elevated levels of creativity.

Limited to Sessions One and Three