Lecturing on War & Peace in Israel, Iraq and beyond

My Fall 2009 Lecture Tour has gotten off to a fantastic start! I began in Los Angeles, where I had the honor to share my stories from Iraq with the local Iraqi kehila of Kahal Joseph Synagogue in Beverly Hills. After my talk (and all the questions!) we went upstairs to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot to the sounds of Arabic music and with homemade Arabic sweets. I danced with Baghdad-born Iraqis who told me “This is an Arab synagogue!” I also had the honor to be hosted by the very gracious couple, David and Caroline Azouz. Thank you all!

Orly Halpern speaking at Temple Beth Emeth to Ann Arbor Jewish community. Photo: Gregory Fox
Orly Halpern speaking at Temple Beth Emeth to Ann Arbor Jewish community. Photo: Gregory Fox

In Ann Arbor, I had three amazing audiences, all very different. At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, I was hosted by the Center for Middle East and North African Studies as part of a colloquium on “War and Warfare.” It was attended by the students of Professor Alexander Knysh, as well as other students and faculty and by Jews and Arabs from the Ann Arbor community.  That evening the Union for Progressive Zionists hosted me. The audience threw me some tough questions! I also really enjoyed speaking before the Ann Arbor Jewish community at Temple Beth Emeth. I felt like I was talking with family. Thank you all for coming! And a VERY big thank you to Ed and Ellie Davidson, two wonderful people who treated me like their daughter.

Now in Toronto, I had the amazing opportunity to give a talk that was a combination of all the talks I’ve given so far. Before an audience of the Journalism Students of Minelle Mahtani and Karen McCrindle and the general public at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus I shared experiences from Iraq (including snippets of my 2004 kidnapping), identity issues as a Jewish and Israeli reporter in the Arab and Muslim world, stories of how I interviewed Hamas leaders, as well as tricks of the trade. What is the first thing you need to arrange before going into a war zone?

The students were fantastic (they thought I wasn’t too bad, either). What interest, curiosity and great questions! They really inspired me.  Honestly, after speaking before these audiences I felt for the first time that maybe I would like to teach not just report…

Meanwhile, I was invited to join a panel of journalists on Behind the Story commenting on the latest news. It’ll be broadcast Sunday, October 18th at 7PM in Ontario. I think I bumbled a bit. It’s a fast-paced program. Judge for yourself.

AND photos to come.



  1. Jason Li says:

    Hey Orly, I was one of the lucky few who got to ask you a question after your talk. It was very informative and I learned a little about what it means to be a journalist – empathy, grit, creativity… all vicariously through your sharing.

    1. orlyhalpern says:

      Hello Jason,

      Thanks for your comment! Which talk did you attend?

      – Orly

  2. Jason Li says:

    Oh I’m a journalism student at UofT Scarborough. I managed to squeeze in a question about whether journalists should intervene when they witness atrocities. I was reminded of journalist Kevin Sites, you may have heard of him, who caught on tape American soldiers killing a wounded Iraqi man. I always wondered which comes first: the story or a life. The answer seems simple to me, but I guess I’ll never know until I actually experience something like it.

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