In the wake of the Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attacks by Hamas that killed some 1,400 Israelis and in which more than 200 Israelis were taken as hostages to Gaza, the Biden administration has offered full-throated support for Israel’s “right to self-defense” in its more than three-week-long military assault on the Gaza Strip with the declared aim of eradicating Hamas and freeing Israeli hostages. While President Biden has said that Israel should conduct its offensive against Hamas in Gaza "in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians," it is not clear this position has had a marked impact on Israel’s military actions or that there are any ‘red lines’ that the US has made clear to Israel.
So far, Israel’s actions have resulted in the killing of more than 8,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of whom are civilians and more than 3,300 of whom are children; damaged or destroyed an estimated 45% of homes and civilian infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip; and forced the internal displacement of more than 1.4 million people. Since the start of this war, Israel has completely cut off food, water, fuel and medical supplies to Gaza and, of late, has blacked out communications to and from the Gaza Strip. Taken together, Israel’s actions have produced what U.N. officials describe as a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
The Biden administration has largely avoided laying down any clear markers or “red lines” that would limit Israel’s military conduct. This absence of “red lines” and apparent acquiescence to an Israeli military doctrine that absolves Israel of responsibility for harming civilians raises profound questions regarding the human, moral, political, and diplomatic costs of the current war, as well as of the legal and moral obligations of the U.S. and international community.
The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) invite you to a public panel addressing these pressing issues.
Human Rights Lawyer & Adjunct Professor, New York University and Hunter College
Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Endowed Professor in the Study of Modern Genocide, Stockton University
Khaled Elgindy, co-moderator
Senior Fellow; Director of the Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs, Middle East Institute
Lara Friedman, co-moderator
President, Foundation for Middle East Peace
Detailed Speaker Biographies
Jamil Dakwar is international human rights lawyer and expert. He is currently the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. Prior to joining the ACLU, he worked at Human Rights Watch and before moving to the United States, he was a senior attorney with Adalah (Justice), a leading Palestinian human rights group in Israel. In 2020, he was appointed as a member of the New York State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He is also adjunct professor at New York University and Hunter College. He tweets @jdakwar. He will be speaking in his personal capacity and not as ACLU staff member.
Khaled Elgindy is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, where he also directs MEI’s Program on Palestine and Israeli-Palestinian Affairs. He is the author of the newly released book Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump, published by Brookings Institution Press in April 2019. Elgindy previously served as a fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution from 2010 through 2018. Prior to arriving at Brookings, he served as an advisor to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on permanent status negotiations with Israel from 2004 to 2009, and was a key participant in the Annapolis negotiations of 2007-08. Elgindy is also an adjunct instructor in Arab Studies at Georgetown University.
Lara Friedman is the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). She is a leading authority on the Middle East, with particular expertise on U.S. foreign policy in the region, on Israel/Palestine, and on the way Middle East and Israel/Palestine-related issues play out in Congress and in U.S. domestic politics, policies, and legislation. Friedman is a former officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, with diplomatic postings in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis, and Beirut. She also served previously as the director of policy and government relations at Americans for Peace Now. In addition to her work with FMEP, Lara is a Non-Resident Fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP).
Katherine Gallagher is a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she works on holding U.S. and foreign officials and corporations, including private military contractors, accountable for serious human rights violations through domestic civil actions, criminal cases under universal jurisdiction laws, and actions using human rights special procedures mechanisms. She has represented victims before the International Criminal Court regarding sexual violence by Catholic Church officials; U.S. torture of detainees inAfghanistan; and persecution by Israeli officials in Palestine. Prior to joining CCR, she worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) from 2001 to 2006.
Raz Segal is associate professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and endowed professor in the Study of Modern Genocide at Stockton University, where he also serves as director of the Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (MAHG). He is also founder and co-coordinator of the Refugee Studies Initiative at Stockton. Focusing on central and southeastern Europe, Segal is engaged in his work with the challenges of exploring the Holocaust as an integral part of late modern processes of imperial collapse, the formation and occasional de-formation of nation-states and their devastating impact on the societies they sought — and still seek — to break and remake. Segal has held a Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship and a Lady Davis Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His publications include Genocide in the Carpathians: War, Social Breakdown, and Mass Violence, 1914-1945 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016; paperback 2020), and he was guest editor of the special issue on Genocide: Mass Violence and Cultural Erasure of Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly, Vol. 138 (June 2018) (Hebrew).
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