Today’s guest is Dov Waxman, a professor of political science and the director of the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at UCLA. This special episode was recorded in two parts; the second part was recorded in late September, just a week and a half before Hamas’ attack on Israel, and the first part was recorded in October, two weeks after the outbreak of war and just before Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza began.

In this episode, Alon and Dov begin with an analysis of Hamas’ attack on Israel, the divide among Palestinian leadership between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and what steps all parties, including the international community, can take from here to ultimately usher in a sustainable peace plan. In the second part of the episode, Alon and Dov discuss Alon’s proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, addressing issues such as Israeli settlements in the West Bank, security arrangements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the demographics of the region, particularly the interspersed populations of Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel proper; and what role the international community can play in bringing about a sustainable peace for the region.

Full bio
Dov Waxman is the director of the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. He is a Professor of Political Science and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair of Israel Studies at UCLA.

An award-winning teacher, he previously was professor of political science, international affairs, and Israel studies, and the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University. He also co-directed the university’s Middle East Center. In addition, he taught at the City University of New York and Bowdoin College. He has also been a visiting fellow at Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Oxford University. Professor Waxman received his Ph.D. and M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and his B.A. degree from Oxford University.

Professor Waxman’s research focuses on the conflict over Israel-Palestine, Israeli politics and foreign policy, U.S.-Israel relations, American Jewry’s relationship with Israel, Jewish politics, and anti-Semitism. He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles and four books: The Pursuit of Peace and The Crisis of Israeli Identity: Defending / Defining the Nation (Palgrave, 2006), Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016), and most recently, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2019).

He has also been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Foreign Policy, The Forward, and Ha’aretz, and he is a frequent commentator on television and radio.

Today’s guest is Yossi Alpher, a consultant and writer on Israel-related strategic issues. He is a former intelligence officer, and served as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel in July 2000, during the Camp David talks, concentrating on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In this episode, we discuss Israel’s current response to Hamas’ attacks against Israel on October 7, various scenarios of how the response will proceed from here, an analysis of the various players in the broader conflict, including Hezbollah, and whether or not Israel can fully eliminate Hamas from Gaza, and the long-term prospects in Gaza.

Full bio
Yossi Alpher is a consultant and writer on Israel-related strategic issues. He is the author of the prize-winning Periphery: Israel’s search for Middle East allies and No End of Conflict: Rethinking Israel-Palestine (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2016, respectively). His latest book is Winners and Losers in the ‘Arab Spring’: Profiles in Chaos (Routledge, 2020), which won the Chaikin Prize in 2021.

Alpher served in the Israel Defense Forces as an intelligence officer, followed by service in the Mossad in operational and analytical roles. From 1981 to 1995 he was associated with the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, ultimately serving as director of center. From 1995 to 2000 he served as director of the American Jewish Committee’s Israel/Middle East Office in Jerusalem. In July 2000 (during the Camp David talks) he served as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel, concentrating on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. From 2001 to 2012 he was coeditor, with Ghassan Khatib (until recently vice-president of Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority) of the bitterlemons family of internet publications.

Today’s guest is Avi Shlaim, Professor Emeritus of International Relations at St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. His most recent book, Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab Jew, discusses his childhood in Baghdad and his family’s flight to Israel, interwoven with the history of the Jews in Iraq in the early 20th century. In this episode, we discuss this book, including Arab-Jewish harmony in Iraq until 1948 and both of our personal experiences of childhoods in Baghdad, the relationship between Ashkenazi and Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews in Israel in history until today, and current prospects, if any, for an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Full bio

Avi Shlaim is an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College and a former Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2006.

His main research interest is the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is author of Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (1988); The Politics of Partition (1990 and 1998); War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History (1995); The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2000, second edition 2014); Lion of Jordan: King Hussein’s Life in War and Peace (2007); and Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (2009). He is co-editor of The Cold War and the Middle East (1997); The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (2001, second edition 2007); and The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences (2012).

Professor Shlaim is a frequent contributor to the newspapers and commentator on radio and television on Middle Eastern affairs.

On the Issues Episode 106: Dr. Emily Bashah and Hon. Paul Johnson

Today’s guests are the Honorable Paul Johnson, former mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, and Dr. Emily Bashah, a clinical psychologist. Paul and Emily are the authors of the book Addictive Ideologies, where they discuss the psychology that leads to terrorism and strategies to combat extremism. In this episode, Alon, Paul, and Emily use the experience of the Jewish population of Iraq to discuss radicalized ideologies in society and how they develop and spread on an individual and societal basis, the growing polarization in the United States and around the world, and what steps can be taken to resolve the increasing divide.

Their book, Addictive Ideologies: Finding Meaning and Agency When Politics Fail You, can be found here.

Full bios
Hon. Paul E. Johnson Jr. is the host of The Optimistic American podcast, whose goal is to create space in the news media for a positive and hopeful view of America. He has a significant background in business, politics and government, and became the youngest mayor of Phoenix, Arizona at 30 years old. He has managed several state campaigns for presidential candidates and is the CEO and co-founder of Redirect Health.

Dr. Emily Bashah is an author and licensed psychologist with a private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. An expert witness in criminal, immigration and civil courts, she has worked on high-profile cases covering issues of domestic terrorism and capital offenses, as well as first-degree murder. Dr. Bashah was awarded the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Policy Fellowship and served within the American Psychological Association’s Public Interest Government Relations Office in Washington, D.C. A frequent expert guest in media, Dr. Bashah clinically specializes in mental illness, personal and collective trauma, addiction and grief and loss, as well as family and relationship dynamics.

Today’s guest is Koby Huberman, co-founder of the Israeli Peace Initiative, which works with Israeli leaders and decision makers in order to promote a new regional alliance with Israel and key Arab states. In this episode, Alon and Koby discuss Alon’s proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, alongside Koby’s work on a Regional Framework for all states, leveraging past discussions and agreements toward a future resolution.

This discussion was held on July 22 as part of a new discussion series on Alon’s proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, the full video of which is posted on YouTube. You can find future events in this series on the Events page.

Full bio
Koby Huberman is a high-tech veteran, business strategist, and a leader of civil society initiatives. In 2011, he co-founded “Yisrael Yozemet,” a non-partisan Impact Group which has more than 1,800 signatories. The group works with Israeli leaders and decision makers in order to promote and validate a new strategic paradigm that includes building Israel as a regional superpower through a Regional Alliance with the key Arab states. Huberman is an experienced high-tech executive with 30 years in global technology corporations, as a strategic visionary, and business development executive.

In 2007, he founded Strategic Landscapes Ltd., a consulting firm helping leading companies develop and implement transformational growth strategies, which he owns and leads today. Huberman has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management, and a master’s degree in Philosophy.

Today’s guest is Azadeh Nikzadeh, an Iranian writer, director, producer, and women’s rights activist. Azadeh’s current project is a short film, inspired by the true story of Sarina Esmailzadeh, a young teenager who was brutally murdered by security forces during a women’s rights protest in September 2022, that aims to shed light on the struggles of Iranian women and their fight against state-led violence.

In this episode, Alon and Azadeh discuss the current status of women’s rights in Iran, the current protests in Iran against mandatory hijab, and what role the international community can play in the fight for democracy and freedom in Iran.

Full bio
Azadeh Nikzadeh is a Middle Eastern writer, director, producer, and women’s rights activist. Her brand is rarely-heard human rights and women empowerment stories and the misuse of religion to justify violence against women. Her films raise awareness of the plight of women’s rights in the MENA region and Iran in particular. She speaks and advocates projects on systematic and state-led violence against women and the importance of storytelling and disseminating the real-life stories of women advocates to create global solidarity. She has been a speaker at various events including the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 67th Session, the International Religious Freedom Summit for MENA region at Washington DC, and Women Creating Change Stand Up With Her Gala at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

She wrote and directed award-winning short films such as The Girl Sitting Here, Vida, and X, and produced feature documentaries including The Left Bank and The Credible Fear. She has won multiple fellowships and awards including Women Empowerment Fellowship, Asian Film Academy Fellowship from the Busan International Film Festival, Athena Film Festival Writing Lab, and Honorable Mention at the Charlotte Film Festival Social Justice Films. Her feature script DANDELION is a Sundance Writing Lab and Austin Film Festival Second Rounder.

Azadeh is the founder of Burnt Generation Studios, an intellectual property development, and production company that develops and produces independent films with the mission to create and promote authentic narratives to build grounds for mutual understanding and shifts in the collective perspective of the audiences.

Welcome to another episode of “On the Issues with Alon Ben-Meir.” Today’s guest is Berat Buzhala, a Kosovar journalist and former Member of Parliament for the Democratic Party of Kosovo. Buzhala is the founder of the media group Nacionale, and was a co-founder of Gazeta Express. In this episode, Alon and Berat discuss the recent turmoil in northern Kosovo over the election of four Albanian mayors in Serb-majority municipalities after the election was boycotted by ethnic Serbs, the mistakes that Prime Minister Albin Kurti has taken during this crisis and beyond, and how this has impacted relations between Kosovo and the US.

Full bio
Berat Buzhala belongs to the Kosovo journalist generation that established post-war media platforms. He initially worked as an economics journalist for the two largest daily newspapers, Zeri and Koha Ditore. In 2005 he established the newspaper Express that soon became one of the most influential online media outlets in the Balkans. Buzhala currently runs the Nacionale media group and is among the most influential public figures in the Balkans. Buzhala is also a former Member of Parliament for the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), returning to journalism after serving a single term.

Today’s guest is Cemre Ulker, the UN Representative and US Director of the Journalists and Writers Foundation. Cemre is a human rights expert dedicated to the gender-sensitive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and focuses on civil and political rights violations and issues related to violence against women and sexual violence in conflict.

In this episode focusing on the upcoming elections in Turkey on May 14, Alon and Cemre discuss the social dynamics in Turkey, the Turkish peoples’ distrust of Erdogan and his one-man authoritarian rule, the current status of the opposition, and women’s rights issues in Turkey.

Full bio
Cemre Ulker is the UN Representative and US Director of the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), an international civil society organization affiliated with the UN Department of Global Communications. Ms. Ulker leads JWF`s global initiatives to promote the culture of peace, human rights, and sustainable development. She is a human rights expert dedicated to the gender-sensitive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals with a particular focus on peaceful, just institutions, and global partnerships. Ms. Ulker also provides workshops and capacity-building programs working on innovative and inclusive policy suggestions for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by facilitating participation platforms for civil society organizations in 24 different countries.

Ms. Ulker works on JWF`s civil society inputs to CEDAW, Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and NGO CSW on a variety of topics including women`s leadership for the UNSCR 1325 Women, Peace and Security Agenda, protection of women refugees, combatting violations against women human rights defenders, political prisoners and highlights the role of civil society contribution for the gender-mainstreaming of the Global Goals 2030.

Cemre Ulker is also the Co-Founder of Set Them Free, a civil initiative promoting women`s rights, monitoring violations against women human rights defenders in Turkey. She is passionate to facilitate Set Them Free`s socio-economic empowerment programs for the enforced women and children migrants.

Ms. Ulker is a freelance contributor at the Kronos News covering Turkey`s human rights agenda and foreign policy projections. She is also a faculty member of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)`s Global Diplomacy Initiative giving lectures on the “Intersectionality of Press Freedom and Human Rights: Violence Against Women Human Rights Defenders”. Cemre Ulker has a BA in Economics from the University of Maryland and completed her Master`s Degree in Human Rights at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Today’s guest is Naim Rashiti, Executive Director of the Balkans Group, a think tank dedicated to regional cooperation and peace in the Balkans. In this episode, which was recorded prior to the agreement reached between Kosovo and Serbia on March 18, Alon and Naim discuss Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Kosovo’s challenges with corruption and other domestic issues, and the impact of Turkish and Russian influences in the Balkans.

Full bio
Naim Rashiti is the Executive Director of the Balkans Group and has almost two decades of experience in political and international affairs. His expertise spans from conflict resolution and inter-ethnic relations to EU integration and institution building. He has provided analysis and consulted for a number of international and non-governmental organisations, including the International Crisis Group (2003-2013), the UNHCR, the Local Government Initiative (LGI), the Canadian Embassy and the International Development Agency (CIDA). He holds degrees from the University of Priština (in Computers and Electronics) and University of Lausanne (in Political Science).

On the Issues Episode 100: John J. Nance

Welcome to another episode of “On the Issues with Alon Ben-Meir.” Today’s guest is John J. Nance, a decorated Air Force veteran, aviation safety expert, and New York Times bestselling author, whose latest book, “The Nine Lives of Cristal Global,” discusses the need of Saudi Arabia to modify its economic approach to succeed in the future. In this episode, Alon and John discuss human rights in Saudi Arabia and how the US should approach that issue, Saudi Arabia’s role in the oil market, and Israel’s desire to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia and how the Saudis can utilize that for peace.

Full bio
One of the key thought leaders to emerge in American Healthcare in the past decade, John J. Nance brings a rich and varied professional background to the task of helping doctors, administrators, boards, and front-line staff alike survive and prosper during the most profoundly challenging upheaval in the history of modern medicine.

As a native Texan, John grew up in Dallas, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree and a Juris Doctor Degree from SMU and is still a licensed Texas attorney. Named Distinguished Alumni of SMU for 2002 and distinguish Alumni for Public Service of the SMU Dedman School of Law in 2010.

John is a decorated Air Force pilot, veteran of Vietnam and Operations Desert Storm/Desert Shield, and a Lt. Colonel in the USAF Reserve. He is well known for his pioneering development of Air Force human factors flight safety education, and one of the civilian pioneers of Crew Resource Management (CRM).

John has piloted a wide variety of jet aircraft, including 727s, 737s, 747s, and Air Force C-141s, and has logged over 15,000 hours of flight time since earning his first pilot license in 1965 and is still a current pilot. He was a flight officer for Braniff International Airlines and a Boeing 737 Captain for Alaska Airlines and is an internationally recognized air safety advocate, best known to North American television audiences as Aviation Analyst for ABC World News and Aviation Editor for Good Morning America. He is also an internationally recognized analyst on matters of seismic safety.

On the Issues Episode 99: Dr. Zaher Sahloul

Today’s guest is Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a Syrian-American critical care specialist and president of MedGlobal, an organization that provides medical care in disaster regions, and the founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and Syria Faith Initiative. Dr. Sahloul is considered one of the world’s experts on the humanitarian crisis in his homeland of Syria and applying lessons learned to other disaster responses, including COVID-19. In this episode, Alon and Dr. Sahloul discuss the Syrian Civil War and his work in providing healthcare in Syria during the war, what is currently happening on the ground in Syria, and what role the international community can play in ending the conflict.

(This episode was recorded before the terrible earthquake in Syria, which has only made the problems discussed in this episode worse.)

Full bio
Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul is a medical doctor, Chicagoan, humanitarian, faith, immigrant and civic leader, and influencer. Professionally, he is a Critical Care specialist at Advocate Christ Medical Center and Saint Anthony’s hospital and Associate Professor in Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Dr. Sahloul is considered one of the world’s experts on the humanitarian crisis in his homeland Syria and applying lessons learned to other disaster responses, including COVID-19. He led the Syrian American Medical Society from 2011-2015 to play a crucial role in providing humanitarian medical aid and organizing the Syrian American diaspora. He founded the American Relief Coalition for Syria, ARCS, and Syria Faith Initiative. He has published extensively on the Syrian crisis, refugees and immigration, disaster management, and COVID-19 impact on disadvantaged communities in Chicago, and has many media appearances locally, nationally, and internationally. He was instrumental in providing medical relief to help the civilian population in his homeland of Syria and testified to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations Security Council multiple times on defending medical neutrality, the use of siege and chemical weapons, and the siege of Aleppo. He was awarded Chicagoan of the Year in 2016 for risking his life with two other American doctors to provide healthcare to the civilians in Aleppo under siege and bombardment. Dr. Sahloul sits on the advisory board of the Syrian Community Network and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He was a member of the Illinois Board of Health from 2009-2016. In 2020 , Dr. Sahloul was awarded the Gandhi Award for Peace for his humanitarian work in Syria and at the global level. He has also received many other awards including the “Heroes Among Us” award by American Red Cross, Dr. Robert Kirschner’s Award for Global Activism by Heartland Alliance Kovler Center 2017, the Commitment to Change Award by the National Immigration Justice Center for his commitment to human rights, and the Shine a Light on Global Refugee Crisis and annual humanitarian award by UNICEF Chicago 2017.