• Three States Push to Curb Pro-Palestine Activism (Jewish Currents

    “‘They moved it this year by stealth,’ said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and a Jewish Currents contributing writer… ‘This is not legislation that makes it a hate crime to criticize Israel,’ Friedman said. ‘It is legislation mandating that the IHRA definition becomes one of the considerations taken into account when looking into whether or not a crime committed has a hate crime component.’ The legislation could enhance a defendant’s punishment, should they be found to have crossed the IHRA’s line on antisemitism. Courts will be required to use the IHRA definition when considering aggravating factors in criminal convictions.”

  • What the Fossil Fuel Industry Learned from Anti-BDS Laws (Jewish Currents)

    “The spread of anti-boycott measures has continued with legislation introduced in Minnesota and Idaho in March, which prevents state contracts from going to companies that boycott not only fossil fuels but also the mining, lumber, and agriculture industries. ‘They’ve taken the anti-BDS template and pasted into it literally every industry that is important politically or economically to the state,’ said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (and a Jewish Currents contributing writer). ‘Want to work to prevent destruction of forests? Want to challenge practices of industrial-scale agriculture companies? Get ready for state laws that require giving up the right to engage on these issues—and on any other issue a legislature or governor decides merits special protection from protest—as a condition for competing for state contracts or benefiting from investment by state pension funds.’”

  • To crush climate action, fossil fuel advocates are copying anti-BDS laws (+972 Magazine)

    Includes many quotes from FMEP’s Lara Friedman, including: “‘It works on everything,’ Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, said of the anti-BDS template. ‘If your logic is that the state has a right to deny contracts to people merely based on their refusal to give up their right to free speech on a given issue, you can apply that to anything. So it’s a matter of creativity here.’”

  • Biden admin folds easily on pledge to reopen consulate in Jerusalem (Mitchell Plitnick/Responsible Statecraft)

    “Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, explained: ‘A diplomatic mission operates as, literally, an island of foreign sovereignty within the territory of the host country, staffed by foreign diplomats who (for the most part) enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the host government… to forcibly enter those embassies would be tantamount to an attack on the country itself.’ Even if a country decided that, since East Jerusalem is occupied territory under international law, it could go ahead and establish such an office — something that the United States would never even consider — practical concerns would make this impossible, as Friedman explains. ‘Only a host country can decide whether to issue diplomatic visas to people sent by a foreign country,’ she wrote, ‘and without such visas there is no diplomatic immunity for diplomats (and the U.S. will not send diplomats abroad in such a situation).'”

  • “Pro-Israel” Pundits Don’t Talk About Israel (Peter Beinart/Jewish Currents)

    “Over the last year, it has become common to hear American progressives condemned for projecting their own concerns—for instance, about anti-Black racism—onto Israel-Palestine. In a recent essay in The Atlantic, Susie Linfield quotes the Israeli journalist Etan Nechin, who claims that the American left treats Israel-Palestine as ‘an offshoot of [its own] identity politics.’ American leftists, Linfield insists, ‘seem as uninterested in the rich texture of Palestinian politics as they are in Israeli politics.’ The irony of this critique is that Israel’s US critics devote far more attention to the realities of Palestinian life than do its supporters. In the two weeks after Palestinian groups were labeled terrorist organizations, for instance, Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (where I’m a fellow) and the former director of policy and government relations at Americans for Peace Now, tweeted about the designation dozens of times.”

  • MintPress: Biden Admin’s Reluctance to Spend Geopolitical Capital Greenlights Israeli Settlement Push

    “Lara Friedman, president of the American non-profit Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), agreed the new government is stepping into territory even Bennett’s predecessor wouldn’t touch. ‘They’re as bad as the [Benjamin] Netanyahu government and in many ways, they’re worse,’ Friedman said. ‘These settlements are absolutely incompatible with any commitment to anything other than permanent Israeli control over the entire area,’ Friedman added, highlighting the record number of home demolitions throughout Area C of the Occupied West Bank as another way Bennett’s government is pushing increased annexation. …FMEP’s Friedman suggested President Joe Biden’s administration can’t keep up with the sheer number of controversial actions Israel has initiated this year, referring to increased settlement activity and Israel’s designation of six Palestinian organizations as terrorist entities. ‘How much political capital does the Biden administration have to spend on any one of these things while it’s also working on Iran?’ Friedman asked, arguing that the U.S. can’t expend all its political energy on Israel. So if a provocative move slips under the radar, Israel might view that as American approval. ‘If things like a new settlement in East Jerusalem are not on the agenda, it’s seen as a green light from Israel, that the U.S. is not opposing it,’ Friedman said. ‘And if the U.S. does put it on the agenda, it means there’s that much less political capital that it can spend on other things.'”

    But at the end of the day, the U.S.-Israel alliance is a lot stronger than any notion of democracy or human rights.

    “No U.S. administration wants to be perceived as picking 10 fights every day with Israel, even if Israel is engaging every day in 10 things that really demand a response from the U.S.,” Friedman observed.

  • Is the Biden-Bennett honeymoon over? Here are 6 US-Israel issues that are raising tensions. (JTA)

    “The old consulate predated Israel’s existence, which meant that until Trump closed it, there was no need to seek Israel’s approval for its ongoing function. That’s no longer the case, according to Lara Friedman, the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace think tank, who from 1992-1994 was a U.S. diplomat at the consulate. ‘A diplomatic mission operates as, literally, an island of foreign sovereignty within the territory of the host country, staffed by foreign diplomats who (for the most part) enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the host government,’ Friedman wrote last month in her weekly roundup of congressional action related to the Middle East. ‘No nation can simply rent/buy a property in a foreign country and declare it, unilaterally, under their own country’s sovereignty. The host country must consent to giving up its sovereignty to a foreign nation.'”