Joseph Puder is seldom optimistic when it comes to predicting Israel’s chances for peace. The executive director of the Philadelphia-based Interfaith Taskforce for America and Israel believes the country needs to fortify its defenses both militarily and in the arena of public opinion.
He will examine the dangers and possibilities facing Israel in a two-part lecture series at Congregation Beth Israel, the Conservative synagogue in Scotch Plains. The first talk, on Wednesday, Jan. 12, will focus on what the Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, and Europeans want from the on-again-off-again peace process. He said he plans to discuss what looks likely to happen next, and the chances of violence resuming.
His second talk, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, will cover Iran and the threat it poses to Israel and the rest of the Middle East. He will question the impact of sanctions from the outside world, and the dissent growing within Iran itself.
Puder was an outspoken opponent of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and has argued that its best chance of security lies in keeping defendable borders protected by a powerful military, backed by support from the international community.
In a recent editorial in Front Page, he faulted Israel — “despite its existential struggle against the genocidal intentions of the Arab world and the Palestinians” — for failing to make its case to the world, as the one true democracy in the Middle East.
Puder, who was born in Israel and lives in the United States, is the founder of ITAI. He writes about international affairs in general, and Middle Eastern issues in particular, for the Philadelphia Bulletin and Front Page Magazine.
He served as executive director of the right-wing organization Americans for a Safe Israel, and was on the staff of the Philadelphia office of the American Jewish Congress.
He has interviewed Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, as well as President Bill Clinton. As a commentator, he has been a guest on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, CBS’ Nightwatch, and on other television and radio programs throughout the United States.
The lecture series is being hosted by CBI’s adult education committee.
“Joseph Puder is extremely knowledgeable about Israel, the Middle East, and foreign and domestic policy in general,” said Gary Goldner, one of the organizers. “I asked him to speak because he doesn’t have the built-in bias prevalent in the ‘mainstream’ media. Instead, he can factually explain the situation with clarity and insight. I thought it would be useful for our community to benefit from hearing his perspectives.”