• Who’s Behind Push for States to Codify Weaponized Definition of Antisemitism? TruthOut 2/7/24

    “Although the IHRA was ostensibly founded to combat Holocaust denialism, its definition of antisemitism was in fact a response to the Second Intifada, an uprising by Palestinians against the ongoing Israeli occupation, as Lara Friedman of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) points out. Organizations committed to Zionism, or Jewish nationalism, like the American Jewish Committee, expressly sought a definition of antisemitism that would include anti-Zionism, and the IHRA’s working definition gave it to them in 2016.” [linked to Lara Friedman article in University of the Pacific Law Review]

  • Biden-Backed Bipartisan Senate Bill Targets Key Humanitarian Aid For Palestinians (Huffington Post)

    “That language would prevent UNRWA from accessing any of the $10 billion the bill provides for humanitarian assistance to civilians in the relevant conflict zones including Gaza, a Senate aide told HuffPost. It would also stop the U.S. from distributing up to $300,000 previously earmarked for UNRWA, according to Seth Binder, the director of advocacy at the Middle East Democracy Center. The Senate aide noted the provision would therefore cut off American funding for UNRWA’s activities beyond the Palestinian territories, including in deeply fragile Lebanon and Jordan, which host many Palestinian refugees. ‘It bars all funding in the pipeline. I don’t see any other way to read it,’ said Lara Friedman, the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace think tank.”

  • US lawmaker: Backing Israel is the ‘path of least resistance’ (Responsible Statecraft)

    “‘I’d be curious to know what he means by ‘path of least resistance,’” Foundation for Middle East Peace President Lara Friedman told Responsible Statecraft. “Does he mean, ‘this is the path that gets me rewarded in terms of campaign support,’ or, on the other hand, ‘how I avoid other possible negative consequences like someone giving massive support to my primary opponent?’”…

    More than two months after the attacks, members of Congress are increasingly voicing concern about Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and President Biden called Israel’s bombing campaign ‘indiscriminate,’ positions that appear to have become more acceptable weeks after the call in which Himes referred to pro-Israel positions as the ‘path of least resistance.’ Friedman credits that shift, at least partially, to growing engagement by voters concerned about the civilian death toll in Gaza. ‘Constituent engagement matters, especially since the Gaza war started,’ said Friedman. ‘Members are now talking about ceasefire and other things we didn’t hear in the first few weeks. Members are starting to show a bit more empathy and concern for what is happening in Gaza.’”

  • Republicans say they believe in free speech. Except when it comes to Israel. (Washington Post)

    “…Under this reasoning, the commission will have broad powers to investigate any criticism of Israel that could be deemed unfair or overly exacting — including calls for a cease-fire or citing Israel’s disregard for Palestinian civilians in its targeting. As the Foundation for Middle East Peace’s Lara Friedman, who monitors legislative activity on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, put it, ‘The GOP wants to formally open an era of modern McCarthyism, with criticism of Israel [and] fake concern about antisemitism as hooks to target progressive Americans.’ There’s no need to speculate about intentions. Leading Republicans have already made clear that something as unobjectionable as posting a Palestinian flag is beyond the pale.”

  • Second Nakba in full swing (Al Ahram)

    [detailed report on a briefing 11/16/23 by FMEP’s Lara Friedman for Interfaith Action] “‘…At this point, northern Gaza is a wasteland,’ Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), told her audience on 16 November. ‘Israel spent the last 5 weeks literally turning northern Gaza into rubble.’ She described the ongoing devastation as ‘the second Nakba’ and ‘humanitarian catastrophe.’ She recalled that at the start of the war, a senior official in the Israeli army said that at the end of this onslaught, ‘Gaza will have no buildings. Only tents.’ Friedman believes him and predicts that Gaza will not be habitable ‘for a very long time.’ ‘People are dying of cholera, starvation, and thirst in their own homes,’ she said. ‘At that point, no one has the luxury of fighting for national self-determination – which is exactly where people who want to erase Palestinian nationalism want things to be.’…”

  • Have the US and Israel agreed on Gaza’s future? (Al Jazeera)

    “‘The initial response of the US was unsurprising, given the horrific nature and scale of the Hamas attack,’ said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. ‘What came next, though, was almost like wilful ignorance.'” and “As Israel’s forced displacement and repeated attacks on civilian infrastructure – including hospitals – have unfolded in real time on social media, a bigger question is being asked. Does Israel actually want any Palestinians left in the strip at all? ‘At this point, that’s very clearly coming across from senior public Israeli figures who’ve been using genocidal and ethnic cleansing language from day one,’ Friedman said.” and “Friedman argues that Netanyahu, re-elected for a record fifth time in November 2022, has effectively been ‘trained’ by successive US administrations to run through red lines. ‘He believes, so far correctly, that he enjoys total impunity,’ she said.” and “With much of the north in ruins and Israel almost certain to prolong a blockade that has seen imports of construction materials heavily restricted, Friedman wonders whether displacement in the south will become the new status quo. ‘We’ll have a strip in the strip, which will just be a giant Palestinian refugee camp under security control of Israel, with the international community providing food and water. But there will be no chance of anyone developing any kind of life,’ she said.”

  • ‘Self-silencing’: For Palestinians, talking about Hamas comes with hazards (USA Today)

    “…as Lara Friedman, president of the U.S.-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, which advocates for rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians, recently pointed out, Hamas won a parliamentary majority in what turned out to be Gaza’s last election − in 2006 − not on an incendiary platform to ‘kill the Jews,’ but as the ‘party of change & reform.’ After years of rule by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ widely unpopular and potentially corrupt Fatah party, ‘a vote for Hamas was a vote against Fatah,’ she said.”

  • Will an Israel-Hamas ceasefire happen? The reasons and roadblocks, explained. (Vox)

    “Netanyahu says the Israeli military incursion will press Hamas to release the hostages. But for now, Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza has seemingly not encouraged Hamas to release hostages. ‘My analysis is that this Israeli government has in the most cynical way simultaneously written off the lives of the hostages, while using them as political capital in convincing the world that no one can tell them what they can or can’t do in Gaza,’ Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, told me. ‘The hostages will be released despite the government of Israel, not because of it.’”

  • Rashida Tlaib pushes for cease-fire in Gaza – and faces blowback (Christian Science Monitor

    “…Lara Friedman, a former U.S. foreign service officer in the Middle East and now president of the Foundation of Middle East Peace, says that absent support from the Biden administration or leading advocacy groups, those supporting a cease-fire will be called anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and pro-Hamas. ‘That’s a hard place to put yourself,’ she says.”