For those who think issues in the Middle East don’t affect them, former Congresswoman and president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Jane Harman has a warning.

“People should remember that the Boston Marathon bombing was not far away from here,” she said. “And just recently there was an arrest of a man trying to stab several police officers.”

Ms. Harman has spent a career in Washington immersed in issues of terrorism and foreign policy as a former member of the House Intelligence Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security. She specializes in issues relating to national security and the Middle East.

“Everyone I’ve talked to is hoping to have a deal [with Iran on its nuclear program] by Thursday,” she said in a telephone interview with the Gazette. “But we don’t know until we know.”

Her talk scheduled for this Thursday night at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center is expected to focus on current events such as the possible Iranian nuclear accord as well as issues regarding ISIS, mounting threats to Israel and the current state of the Arab Spring.

“If it ever was spring, it’s now winter,” she cautioned. “But there are still large drivers of change in the region.”

These “drivers” are shifting by the day, she added, also suggesting that the topics of her discussion could change by the minute considering the volatility of the region and that the details of the possible US-Iran nuclear accord could be announced Thursday. Ms. Harman also warned against oversimplification, especially on issues like nuclear arms where the focus can often seem to be limited to just one country.

“Iran is not the only worry here,” she said. “There’s the potential for a... dirty bomb from ISIS, as well as Pakistan’s nuclear program.”

Worries about the launching of a WMD from ISIS are not necessarily likely in the near future, but there are still probabilities, she said.

While Ms. Harman does acknowledge the dangers in the region, she is also quick to point out that there have been positive developments recently. Among these are the possible pushback against fundamentalist organizations like ISIS a well as some stabilization in Middle Eastern regimes, even as chaos reigns in many parts of the region.

“There’s potential,” she said. “There definitely is some.”

But even more important, according to Ms. Harman, is for all those on the Vineyard to be aware of how the situation might affect them. Terrorist attacks always remain a threat, and the recent gains by ISIS point towards the potential of a new launching ground for terror networks even if the group can be contained. Additionally, the safety of Israel could also be in jeopardy as the nations around it grow increasing hostile and volatile.

“If it’s in an unstable neighborhood, then its future is in peril,” she said.

Issues that pertain to national security in turn have a local effect, from Congresswoman Harman’s point of view, and it is therefore in the best interest of all those concerned to take notice about what’s going on in Iran or Pakistan.

“The export of terror could arrive on Martha’s Vineyard,” she said. “So yes, people should care about this.”

Jane Harman will be speaking on Thursday, July 9, at 7 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center as part of their Summer Institute’s Speaker Series. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at The series continues on Thursday nights through the summer. The Hebrew Center is located at 130 Center street, Vineyard Haven.