• Biden says he wants a two-state solution. Why is he silent on Israeli settlements? (Vox)

    “‘What started out as a bunch of pins thrown up on a map became a deep network crisscrossing the West Bank of Israeli Jewish settlements, established in strategic locations,’ Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, told me. Those new informal communities grew into developments and cities, ‘erasing the Green Line, so you can no longer see what is Israel,’ according to Friedman. She says that settlers deliberately sought to ‘prevent the connection and expansion of Palestinian localities in the West Bank.’”…’The political animals around Biden have learned all the wrong lessons from the Obama era,’ Friedman told me. ‘The main lesson they learned was, ‘We don’t want to fight with Israel over settlements, or anything really.’’…For Friedman, a former State Department official who has been monitoring Israeli settlements since she worked at the US consulate in Jerusalem from 1992 to 1994, the Biden administration is simply not doing enough. ‘Since Biden came into office, we have seen a surge in settlement activity in the West Bank, we have seen a surge in settler violence, we’ve seen a surge in targeting in East Jerusalem,’ she told me. ‘And there’s nothing — all you’ll get is the most empty rhetoric. It’s as empty as we had under Trump.’”

  • After Bucking AIPAC Line, Rep. Sean Casten Returned $50,000 to Right-Leaning Pro-Israel Donors (The Intercept)

    “The refunded contributions are part of a larger trend this election season, which has seen unprecedented amounts of spending from pro-Israel organizations upend the playing field in Democratic primaries. ‘This is yet another wrinkle in that story,’ Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, told The Intercept. ‘We know that much of this money has been coming from Republicans, and these refunds provide even more insight into how this money is reshaping the landscape for Democratic politicians.’”

  • Ben & Jerry’s Clashes With Unilever Over BDS (Jewish Currents)

    “…close observers of the Unilever announcement said the reality of what the company did was more complicated than the tenor of Israeli press coverage—which portrayed the move as a full reversal of the Ben & Jerry’s decision—made it seem. Ben & Jerry’s is now out of the business of selling ice cream in Israel, and as the company pointed out in its own response to the Unilever announcement, ‘our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.’ In its place will be Zinger’s version of Ben & Jerry’s, marketed only in Hebrew and Arabic. “If the idea of the anti-BDS campaign is to compel international companies to operate in settlements, this is the opposite of that,” said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (and a Jewish Currents contributing writer). ‘This international company is now not operating in Israel or the West Bank.’”

  • The Takeaway: US, Israel to show united front on Iran during Biden visit (Al-Monitor)

    “While the Biden administration is still publicly committed to negotiating a renewed nuclear deal, a ‘Plan B’ if the talks fail is sure to be on the agenda during Biden’s meetings with Bennett and Lapid, as is a likely series of US-led initiatives to strengthen regional deterrence. Outgoing PM Bennett is expected to informally serve as the interim government’s minister in charge of the Iran portfolio. Lara Friedman, president of the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, expects that Biden and Lapid will put forward a united front on Iran. ‘I think they’re going to just try to be as conciliatory as possible, saying we’re all on the same side trying to do this same thing.’”

  • General Mills Avoids Anti-BDS Backlash for Pulling Out of Settlements (Jewish Currents)

    “Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (and a Jewish Currents contributing writer), said that anti-BDS advocates, including supporters of anti-BDS legislation, are clearly concerned when companies take an explicit political position. ‘They care about the political implications of a statement that says, ‘We have a disagreement with Israel and its politics in the West Bank,’ she said. Often, Friedman noted, companies attempt to boycott only the occupied territories while continuing their operations in the rest of Israel, but anti-BDS campaigners seem to find that especially enraging. ‘The act of making a distinction is what pisses people off,’ she said. Airbnb, for example, was forced to reverse its policy of not listing rentals in the settlements in 2019 after facing global backlash.”

  • 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.’”