Mar 1, 2016

Middle East Expert Laura Blumenfeld Headlines JCRC Forum on Israel and America

More than 200 people from across the local Jewish community spent an evening riveted to Middle East expert Laura Blumenfeld’s presentation on “What is Next for Israel and America? Assessing the Past to Secure Our Future.” Speaking on February 17 in Zinman Hall on the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County campus, Blumenfeld, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and a best-selling author, gave a 40-minute presentation followed by nearly half an hour of in-depth, challenging questions from the audience. The program was hosted by the Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).

Click here to enjoy more photos from this important event.

Having covered the Middle East for The Washington Post, The New York Times and The New Yorker, Blumenfeld has seen the Israeli-Arab conflict from all angles for more than two decades. She was living in a Palestinian village when the intifada broke out, working in Amman when the Gulf War broke out, and most recently served as Senior Policy Advisor on Secretary of State Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian negotiating team before last year’s Gaza War. (full bio below)

“It was very enlightening to hear what Blumenfeld has learned through her many years of research, reporting and policy work.” said Chet Kay, a member of the JCRC Executive Committee. “While sharing her experiences covering and participating in several failed diplomatic efforts toward peace, Blumenfeld maintains that – while being realistic about Israel’s challenging environment and despite the many obstacles – it is essential to persevere.”

“Blumenfeld also reinforced how important it is for a community like South Palm Beach County and the individuals present to be knowledgeable and engaged, making their informed views known by participating in the civil process,” added Andrew Robins, JCRC Co-Chair, who welcomed the group and moderated the Question and Answer session. “Toward this end, the night’s high-level briefing along with the frank and respectful discussion of different viewpoints held among audience members are testimony to the importance of such public forums.”

Blumenfeld, too was pleased with the evening. “I've been giving speeches for years, but the audience last night was among the most thoughtful, lively and impressively diverse,” she wrote afterward.

The JCRC will next present “An Evening with Alan Dershowitz,” free of charge, at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton on March 24. For more information, contact Marissa Trowbridge at marissat@bocafed.org or 561.852.6022.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is the public policy, community relations and advocacy arm of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. The JCRC helps to unite, support and direct the organized Jewish community in the greater Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Highland Beach areas. Rooted in Jewish values and informed by Jewish history, the JCRC also reflects the ideals of American democracy. For more information, call 561.852.6022 or email marissat@bocafed.org.

Photo captions from top L-R:

  • Laura Blumenfeld
  • Andrew Robins, Laura Blumenfeld, Matthew C. Levin, Stuart Silver
  • More than 200 people from across the Jewish community attended

LAURA BLUMENFELD

Laura Blumenfeld, The New York Times bestselling author and prize-winning Middle East correspondent, was a Senior Policy Adviser on Secretary Kerry's Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations team from October 2013-February 2015. She is currently a Scholar in Residence at Georgetown University, and a Public Policy Fellow at The Wilson Center.

Blumenfeld covered national security, presidential politics, Israel and the Middle East for The Washington Post as a distinguished senior staff writer for twenty years. She is the author of The New York Times best seller, Revenge: A Story of Hope. Revenge has been translated into nine languages, and has been excerpted in a range of publications, from People to The New Yorker. As The New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote, "Laura Blumenfeld has the eye of a reporter, the soul of a novelist, and the passion of an activist. She brings all three to bear superbly." She also authored a chapter in the book What Israel Means To Me, edited by Alan Dershowitz.

Blumenfeld has lectured on counter-terrorism, military ethics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is a frequent speaker at universities including Princeton, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and the U.S. Naval Academy. She served as a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at The German Marshall Fund, where she specialized in security policy.

Blumenfeld's work has been developed for screen adaptation by George Clooney, Madonna, Ellen Pompeo, HBO, Universal Pictures, ABC and CBS Television. Showtime aired an hour-long documentary on This American Life, based on her feature story. At The Washington Post, she wrote a regular column about senior government officials for the Federal Page, called "Off Camera." She has also written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Conde Nast Traveler UK, and the Financial Times. She has appeared on Charlie Rose, Good Morning America, The Lehrer News Hour, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Oprah and CCTV. She has been interviewed extensively on NPR, the BBC and other radio shows.

Blumenfeld holds a master’s degree in international affairs specializing in the Middle East from Columbia University, which she attended on full-scholarship as a Mort Zuckerman Future World Leaders Fellow. She graduated with honors with a degree in English literature from Harvard College and studied Middle East languages and civilizations for a year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.