MONTEREY — The Leon Panetta Lecture Series will take on the politically charged subject of war in the Middle East in its next installment, May 13.

The third forum of this year’s series is “The Challenge of War in the Middle East – Will There Be Peace or More War?” Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will lead the discussion with a panel of experts starting at 7 p.m. at the Monterey Conference Center.

The panel is scheduled to include Anja Manuel, the former special assistant to the under secretary, U.S. Department of State; Tom Nides, the U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2021-2023; Dennis Ross, a former special advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia in the U.S. Department of State and General Tod Wolters, who was the NATO supreme allied commander in Europe from 2019-2022.

“The Israel-Hamas War has already become one of the most destructive, deadly and intractable conflicts of the 21st century,” said Institute Chairman Panetta in a press release. “As violence spreads across the region and the humanitarian crisis grows, is there any hope for a peaceful resolution? Can a ceasefire be put in place that allows for the exchange of hostages, humanitarian aid and the return of refugees to Gaza? Can a viable Palestinian state be the end result of this war and negotiations? Or will the long history of war, destruction and death continue to consume the Middle East?”

So far this season, the lecture series has hosted discussions on immigration and artificial intelligence under the year’s overall theme  “Challenges to Democracy at Home and Abroad.” The final installment for the year will be June 3 on “The Challenge of the 2024 Election – A United or Divided America?”

Tickets for the May 13 and June 3 lecture are $100 each and may be purchased using a credit card by calling the Panetta Institute at (831) 582-4200.