On April 7, 2020, the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Americans for Peace Now held a webinar looking at settlements and occupation in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, including the very different Israeli policies vis-a-vis movement and travel of Palestinians and West Bank settlers, Israeli government moves to advance settlement projects while the world’s focus is on the health crisis, and continued settler violence against Palestinians.
The webinar feature two experts who work on these issues on the ground: Lior Amihai, Executive Director of Yesh Din. and Brian Reeves, Director Development & External Relations at Peace Now. The moderator was FMEP President Lara Friedman. Bios are below.
Lior Amihai is the Executive Director of Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization that monitors, researches and conducts legal and public advocacy regarding human rights violations inherent in Israel’s prolonged occupation, with the aim of enhancing access to justice for Palestinians in the West Bank. Yesh Din has gained international recognition for its research and litigation in the following areas: accountability of Israeli security forces personnel; law enforcement on Israeli civilians who harm Palestinians or their property; and takeover of Palestinian land. Before joining Yesh Din, Lior jointly headed Peace Now’s Settlement Watch project, responsible for exposing and analysing the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Lior obtained his master’s degree in human rights as a Chevening scholar from University College in London, and his B.Sc. from the City University of London, as a participant in the Olive Tree Scholarship Program for Palestinian and Israeli scholars.
Brian Reeves is the director of development and external relations at Peace Now. His current work focuses on challenges presented by Israeli settlements, Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, and reorienting Israeli perceptions of Palestinians and the conflict. Before joining Peace Now, Reeves was a senior research assistant at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution between 2015-17, where he worked with successive center directors’ Tamara Wittes and Natan Sachs, on Arab state stability and Israeli policy, respectively. Prior to that, he served as a visiting fellow at the Mitvim Institute, where he covered U.S. foreign policy toward Israel and the wider Middle East. Reeves holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from Brandeis University and a master’s in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Originally from Colorado, he made Aliyah and resides in Tel Aviv.
Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). With more than 25 years working in the Middle East foreign policy arena, Lara is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She is published widely in the U.S. and international press and is regularly consulted by members of Congress and their staffs, by Washington-based diplomats, by policy-makers in capitals around the world, and by journalists in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her work at FMEP, Lara is a Contributing Writer at Jewish Currents and a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP). Prior to joining FMEP, Lara was the Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now, and before that she was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, serving in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. She holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service; in addition to English, Lara speaks French, Arabic, Spanish, (weak) Italian, and muddles through in Hebrew.