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Former Israeli Intelligence Official Briefs Communal Leaders at JCC on the Palisades

(Courtesy of Kaplen JCC on the Palisades) Avi Melamed, former Israeli intelligence official and the head of Israel-based think tank Inside the Middle East (ITME), briefed Jewish communal leaders on May 16 at the JCC on the Palisades about the current situation in the Middle East.

Melamed spoke to the group as part of a series of events orchestrated by Inside the Middle East (ITME) and JCC Association of North America, which leads the JCC movement across North America. The 10-session pilot program is being launched in five East Coast JCCs throughout this month.

Melamed’s lecture, “Inside the Middle East: Entering a New Era,” provided a high-level briefing on the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East today to provide audiences with a multidimensional picture of the complex realities and conflicts on the ground. Several notable leaders from New Jersey Jewish institutions attended, including Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey CEO Jason Shames and NJY Camps CEO Michael Schlank.

Earlier in the day, Melamed also hosted a showing of the “Seam Line,” a five-episode docuseries on Jerusalem starring Melamed that steers audiences through an unparalleled exploration into the multicultural forces at play in the struggle over—and in—Jerusalem. The series is the first original production from IZZY made for international audiences and can be viewed on its streaming platform: https://www.streamisrael.tv/.

Melamed’s distinguished background includes gathering and analyzing counterterrorism operational intelligence throughout the Middle East and serving as Jerusalem’s senior government official on Arab affairs during the political upheaval of the first Intifada. At a time when most Jewish Israelis did not dare walk into an Arab neighborhood, Melamed, fluent in Arabic, was tasked to foster on-the-ground relationships by traveling into their communities almost daily.

Melamed has since gone on to share his expert non-partisan intel through the founding of ITME, with his advanced workshops receiving high acclaim from global policymakers, diplomats and journalists alike.

“There has been more change in the Middle East in the last few years than ever before and it is important to brief Jewish communal leaders on both the situation in Israel but also more broadly in the Middle East as we have seen some large shifts take place recently, all of which impacts Israel,” said Melamed. “This program empowers community leaders to foster informed conversations that will generate productive policy discussions surrounding the current situation.”

“JCCs serve as a town square for open dialogue about the most pressing issues confronting the North American Jewish community,” said JCC Association of North America President and CEO Doron Krakow. “As we endure these times of uncertainty in Israel’s political trajectory, it has never been more important for our community to engage in constructive conversations that will strengthen ties across the ideological spectrum and safeguard the legacy we will leave for future generations. We are grateful to partner with Avi Melamed and ITME to help make this possible.”

Melamed is a former Israeli intelligence official and the former senior Arab affairs advisor to Jerusalem mayors Teddy Kollek and Ehud Olmert. He is the founder and chief education officer of Inside the Middle East, an independent 501c3 devoted to providing professional knowledge about the Middle East and empowering critical thinking by way of non-partisan and innovative education. To learn more visit https://www.insidethemiddle-east.com/.

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