J.J. Goldberg, left, and Jonathan S. Tobin will participate in Left vs. Right: The Battle for Israel’s Soul on Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m., at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. (photos from JFGV)
On Oct. 23 at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, J.J. Goldberg and Jonathan S. Tobin will participate in Left vs. Right: The Battle for Israel’s Soul.
Representing the left is Goldberg, editor-at-large and senior commentator at the Jewish Daily Forward. On the right is Tobin, editor-in-chief of JNS.org and a contributing writer for National Review. The debate is one of a series that the two men are doing to model civil dialogue about contentious issues.
In a Jan. 24, 2018, article on the Goldberg-Tobin event that month at Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass., which was organized by CJP (Combined Jewish Philanthropy) Strategic Israel Engagement’s CommUNITY Israel Dialogue initiative, Tobin is quoted as saying, “Don’t take away from this our talking points. Take away from this our ability to try to learn, to try to listen to each other. We’re both Zionists, we both love Israel. We interpret facts differently, but we think seriously about each other’s arguments.”
Of the debate they hosted, Hannah Rosenthal, chief executive officer and president of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, said, “The program drew a large crowd and the debate was substantive and interesting. To us, the value of this program was not only that it helped us learn about the issues but also that we saw J.J. and Jonathan model civil, heartfelt and passionate debate about Israel. That kind of respectful communication over disagreements is rare and was refreshing. After the program, we posted all the audience questions online, urging people to continue the conversation.”
Tobin and Goldberg discuss many critical issues concerning the state of Israel in their two-hour debate. “Is Israel locked in a tragic dispute between two peoples claiming the same land – or a global conflict between Western democracy and Islamist terrorism?” gave Robin Wishnie, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren, as an example. “Is partition into two states the only way to ensure Israel’s survival – or is it the surest path to ever-increasing bloodshed and possibly even endangering Israel’s survival?”
Goldberg was the Forward’s editor in chief from 2000 to 2007. He has served as U.S. bureau chief of The Jerusalem Report and managing editor of the New York Jewish Week and his books include Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment and Builders and Dreamers, a history of Labour Zionism in America.
Before entering journalism, Goldberg worked as an education specialist with the World Zionist Organization in Jerusalem, was a founding member and secretary-general of Kibbutz Gezer, near Tel Aviv, and was a New York City cabdriver. He has been a sharpshooter with the Israeli Border Police Civil Guard, a member of the central committee of the United Kibbutz Movement and a member of the Pulitzer Prize jury.
In addition to his roles at the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS.org) and National Review, Tobin is also a columnist for the New York Post, The Federalist, Haaretz and the New York Jewish Week. In his writing, he covers on a daily basis the American political scene, foreign policy, the U.S.-Israel relationship, Middle East diplomacy and the Jewish world.
Previously, Tobin was first executive editor and then senior online editor and chief political blogger for Commentary magazine for eight years. Prior to that, he was editor-in-chief of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia for 10 years and, before that, the editor of Connecticut’s Jewish Ledger. He appears regularly on television commenting on politics and foreign policy.
The Vancouver event Left vs. Right: The Battle for Israel’s Soul is co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, Jewish Independent, Ameinu, Or Shalom, Schara Tzedeck, Beth Israel and Temple Sholom. It takes place in the JCC’s Wosk Auditorium and starts at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend but an RSVP is required to jewishvancouver.com/left-vs-right.