Canada Talks Israel Palestine: Interview with Lara Friedman


Canada Talks Israel Palestine: 

US Thinktank Makes Excellent Webinars and Research Freely Accessible to Canadians Online

“Until now, it has been difficult (and expensive) for Canadians to access the many conferences and panels in Washington with knowledgeable speakers on the Israel/Palestine issue. But the Covid pandemic has pushed the Foundation for Middle East Peace, a progressive thinktank, to replace those conferences with a series of outstanding free webinars, now accessible to people outside Washington (including Canadians). Above, a recent FMEP webinar with BTselem’s executive director Hagai el-ad. CTIP interviewed Ms. Friedman about FMEP’s objectives and work. Watch CTIP’s video interview with Ms. Friedman.…

The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), based in Washington, D.C. was founded over 40 years ago, by Merle Thorpe, a successful American lawyer who decided he wanted to do something about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. CTIP has only became aware of FMEP in the last several years, as a series of particularly well-informed emails began arriving in our in-basket about events in the middle east and in the US congress, as well as invitations to join in Zoom-based educational webinars.

Lara Friedman, a former US foreign service officer, took over the help of FMEP in 2017. She is responsible for directing an organization which publishes daily and weekly email summaries of events in the Middle East and developments in the US congress on the Israel/Palestine file. Under her direction, FMEP has also begun organizing a series of informative webinars open to anyone in the world, including, of course Canadians. The FMEP webinars are free, but require registration.

While FMEP might have been described as having initially a “liberal zionist” philosophy, more recently it has organized discussions which go beyond that framework, to address the issue of Zionism itself. “We don’t have any boundaries ie. ideas which are not allowed”, says Friedman. Recent webinars have featured speakers from right to left, Israelis and Palestinians, Zionists and non-Zionists, including well known intellectuals like Peter Beinart, Rashid Khalidi, Yousef Munayyer, and Mohammad El Kurd.

FMEP also has a donations program, in which it gives donations to a wide range of organizations. Its grant philosophy is expressed as supporting “charitable organizations working to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem and striving for a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Among the organizations FMEP provides grants to are: +972 Magazine, Bt’selemAmericans for Peace NowAdalah and Breaking the Silence.

In early January 2021, CTIP interviewed FMEP President Lara Friedman about her approach to the work of the organization.

“I learn something in every webinar we do”, says Lara Friedman, President of FMEP.

In addition to its webinars and grants program, the FMEP website also offers a wealth of information on various questions relating to the Israel/Palestine conflict. One example is a compendium of articles on the highly controversial IHRA defintion of anti-Semitism.

For more information on the Foundation for Middle East Peace, to access recordings of previous webinars or to check out its series of newsletters, go to its website.