WEBINAR: Legislating Against Criticism of Israel – the Ongoing Assault on Americans


On April 14, the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) hosted a webinar entitled “Legislating Against Criticism of Israel – the Ongoing Assault on Americans’ Free Speech” featuring Dima Khalidi (Palestine Legal) and Lara Friedman (FMEP) in conversation with Peter Beinart. The U.S. is facing ongoing and ever-expanding efforts to use new legislation as a weapon to quash free speech and activism that challenges Israeli policies. This webinar, featuring experts who are on the front lines of challenging and documenting these efforts, explored the phenomenon in its various current and emerging forms, including so-called anti-BDS laws and legislation that exploits the pretext of fighting antisemitism.

Resources shared/mentioned during this webinar:

  • On anti-free speech legislation targeting U.S. colleges and universities:
    • Palestine Legal database and analysis of these cases: https://palestinelegal.org/cases
    • FMEP’s database: https://fmep.org/resource/lawfare-targeting-us-academia-tracking-the-cases/
  • On state laws infringing on free speech in order to quash criticism of Israel:
    • Palestine Legal’s database: https://palestinelegal.org/righttoboycott
    • FMEP’s database: https://fmep.org/resource/stealth-campaign-use-u-s-law-support-settlements-taking-battle-states-updatedexpanded-table/
  • On federal laws infringing on free speech in order to quash criticism of Israel:
    • Palestine Legal’s briefing: https://palestinelegal.org/federal
    • FMEP’s database: https://fmep.org/resource/stealth-campaign-use-u-s-law-support-settlements-congress/
  • On redefining antisemitism to quash criticsm of Israel:
    • Palestine Legal’s background briefing: https://palestinelegal.org/redefinition-efforts
    • FMEP’s database of state and federal laws: https://fmep.org/resource/abusing-anti-semitism-quash-israel-criticism-congress-states/


Participant Biographies

Peter Beinart is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. He is also a Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York, a Contributor to The Atlantic, an Editor-at-Large at Jewish Currents, and a CNN Political Commentator.

Dima Khalidi is the founder and director of Palestine Legal and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). She oversees Palestine Legal’s array of legal and advocacy work to protect people speaking out for Palestinian rights from attacks on their civil and constitutional rights. Prior to founding Palestine Legal in 2012, Dima worked with CCR as a cooperating attorney on the Mamilla Cemetery Campaign, submitting a Petition to United Nations officials to stop the desecration of an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, and advocating on behalf of Palestinian descendants of individuals interred in the cemetery.  As a volunteer and Ella Baker intern at CCR, she also worked on numerous cases that sought to hold Israeli officials and corporations accountable for Israeli violations of international law, as well as on CCR’s Guantanamo Bay docket.  As a law student, she interned with the People’s Law Office in Chicago, assisting in the acquittal of Palestinian-American Muhammad Salah on major federal criminal charges. Dima has a JD from DePaul University College of Law, an MA in International and Comparative Legal Studies from the University of London – SOAS, and a BA in History and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan.  Prior to studying law, Dima worked at Birzeit University, heading a research project on the role of informal justice mechanisms in the Palestinian legal system.

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.