The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and the Middle East Institute (MEI) present the 2023 Congressional briefing series: Israel & Palestine – key issues for the 118th Congress.
The 6-part series of weekly webinars was held between February 10 and March 17, 2023, and featured an array of experts weighing in on some of the most pressing Israel/Palestine-related topics relevant to Congress. Sessions were co-moderated by MEI’s Khaled Elgindy and FMEP’s Lara Friedman. Participation in the live sessions was open exclusively to members of Congress and Congressional staff. However, now that the series has concluded, we are pleased to share video recordings of all six sessions below.
Learn more about the 2023 Series at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, or check out past series held in 2022 and 2021.
Browse webinars and recordings from the 2023 Series:
Part 1 – Beyond Oslo
This session examined the successes and failures of the Oslo process 30 years on and the extent to which the Oslo framework, including the two-state solution, remains relevant to a lasting peace settlement in Palestine/Israel.
Omar Dajani is a Professor of Law at the University of the Pacific where he also serves as the co-director of the law school’s Global Center for Business & Development, and is recognized as a leading expert on legal aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He began his legal career by clerking for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and working as a litigation associate at the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley & Austin. In 1999, Professor Dajani was recruited to serve as a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team in peace talks with Israel, ultimately participating in the summits at Camp David and Taba. He then joined the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), where he worked on peacebuilding initiatives and played a lead role in marshaling and organizing international efforts to support Palestinian legal and political reforms. Professor Dajani has continued since that time to work as a consultant on a variety of legal infrastructure development and conflict resolution projects in the Middle East and elsewhere – for institutions including the U.S. Department of State, the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center (NOREF), and the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Dr. Maha Nassar is an Associate Professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona, where she specializes in Arab cultural and intellectual history with a focus on Palestinians. Her book, which received a 2018 Palestine Book Award, is titled Brothers Apart: Palestinian Citizens of Israel and the Arab World (Stanford University Press, 2017). It examines the ways in which Palestinian writers and intellectuals in Israel positioned themselves within an Arab and third world social, cultural and intellectual milieu during the period of decolonization, thus extending their intellectual horizons far beyond the confines of the nation-state. Her current projects further explore Palestinian subject formation transnationally. One involves an analysis of the discursive framings utilized during the 1950s regarding “Arab women in Israel,” while another explores how Palestinian writers understood and engaged with black American experiences in the 20th century. Her next book project is a social, transnational history of the Palestinian people that examines the role of Palestinian women in grassroots mobilizations.
Dr. Shibley Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Before coming to the University of Maryland, he taught at several universities, including Cornell University, the Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, Princeton University, Columbia University, Swarthmore College, and the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his doctorate in political science. He has also been active in the foreign policy arena. He has advised every U.S. administration from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama. He has served as Advisor to the US Mission to the UN, as advisor to former Congressman Lee Hamilton, as a member of the US Commission on Public Diplomacy, and as a senior advisor to the Obama Administration’s Special Middle East Envoy. He is the author and editor of numerous books. His best-selling book, The Stakes: America and the Middle East, was selected by Foreign Affairs as one of the top five books on the Middle East in 2003. He has two forthcoming books: The One State Reality: What is Israel/Palestine? (co-edited, Cornell University Press); and a co-authored book on Obama and Trump policies toward the Middle East. Telhami was selected by the Carnegie Corporation of New York along with the New York Times as one of the “Great Immigrants” for 2013. He is also a recipient of the University of Maryland’s Honors College Outstanding Faculty Award, and The University of Maryland Distinguished Service Award. In 2022, he was listed by the Washingtonian Magazine as one of the most influential people on foreign affairs.
Part 2 – Extremism in Israel
This session explored the rise and normalization of extremism and extremists in Israeli politics, particularly in light of the current far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and what it means for Palestinian rights, prospects for peace, regional stability, and Israel’s standing in the international community.
Amjad Iraqi is an editor and writer at +972 Magazine. He is also a policy analyst at the think tank Al-Shabaka, and was previously an advocacy coordinator at the legal center Adalah. In addition to +972, his writings have appeared in the London Review of Books, The Nation, The Guardian, and Le Monde Diplomatique, among others. He is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, based in Haifa.
Dr. Shaul Magid is a Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, where he teaches Jewish Studies and Religion, rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue in Sea View, NY, contributing editor to Tablet Magazine and editor of Jewish Thought and Culture at Tikkun Magazine. He is also a member of the American Academy for Jewish Research. Shaul received his rabbinical ordination in Jerusalem. Shaul’s academic work focuses on Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and modern Jewish thought with specific emphasis on American Judaism, Jewishness, and collective identity.
Natasha Roth-Rowland is an editor and writer at +972 Magazine, and a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Virginia. Her dissertation investigates the history of the Jewish far right in Israel-Palestine and the United States. Natasha previously spent several
Part 3 – Human Rights & Accountability
This session will look at human rights conditions in Israel and the occupied territories, as they relate to both the Israeli government and Palestinian political actors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as the broader question of accountability.
Francesca Albanese is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories. She is also an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University, and a Senior Advisor on Migration and Forced Displacement for the think tank Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), where she co-founded the Global Network on the Question of Palestine (GNQP), a coalition of renowned professional and scholars engaged in/on Israel/Palestine. She has published widely on the legal situation in Israel/Palestine; her latest book, Palestinian Refugees in International Law (Oxford University Press, 2020), offers a comprehensive legal analysis of the situation of Palestinian refugees from its origins to modern-day reality. She regularly teaches and lectures on International Law and Forced Displacement in European and Arab universities, and speaks frequently at conferences and public events on the legal situation of Palestine. She worked for a decade as a human rights expert for the United Nations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees. In these capacities, she advised the UN, governments, and civil society across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Asia Pacific, on the enforcement of human rights norms.
Rabea Eghbariah is a human rights attorney completing his doctoral studies at Harvard Law School. He worked as an appellate public defender before joining the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Center, where he argued major Palestinian civil and political rights cases. Rabea published on various subjects relating to Palestinians and Israeli law, including the censorship of online speech, the legal land regime, and the criminalization of Palestinian foragers. His writings appeared in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology, the Law and Political Economy Project, and the Journal of Palestine Studies, among others. Rabea previously served as an executive article editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal and currently serves as an editorial member of Jadaliyya’s Palestine page.
Shawan Jabarin is General Director of Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization.
Part 4 – Free Speech, Lawfare, & the Right to Protest
In this session we explored issues surrounding grassroots activism in protest of Israeli policies, including through calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS), and the parallel rise in efforts, including in Congress and state legislatures, aimed at curtailing criticism of Israel/Zionism and/or advocacy for Palestinian rights and their implications for free speech and a healthy policy debate on Israel and Palestine.
Suhad Babaa is the Executive Director of Just Vision. Babaa produced Boycott (2021) and executive produced Naila and the Uprising (2017). She is also the co-publisher of the award-winning Hebrew-language news site, Local Call. Additionally, Suhad helped lead the impact campaigns for Just Vision’s critically acclaimed film, Budrus (2009), which was recognized with the Doc Society Social Impact Award in 2012, as well as the Peabody award-winning documentary, My Neighbourhood (2012), which has since helped support a global campaign to save Sheikh Jarrah, the community that sits at the heart of the film. Suhad has addressed dozens of audiences at venues including the United Nations, White House, Harvard University and film festivals, mosques, synagogues and churches across the country. She has worked closely with policymakers, faith and community leaders, educators and students as part of Just Vision’s broader public engagement efforts. Her team’s work has been featured by institutions including TED, Tate Britain and the Nobel Women’s Initiative and highlighted in outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Yedioth Ahronoth, PBS, BBC, Channel 2 News (Israel), Ma’an News, Al Quds, The Forward and beyond. Suhad is a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, and Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Yousef Munayyer, PhD, is a non-resident Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC (ACW). He writes on the Arab-Israeli conflict and is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Palestine Studies. Some of his published articles can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, Journal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Policy, and others. Dr. Munayyer holds a PhD in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Maryland.
Dylan Saba is a Staff Attorney at Palestine Legal, where he advises Palestine human rights advocates on a number of issues, such as free speech violations, employment discrimination, bullying, and disciplinary actions. Dylan is half Palestinian and half Jewish American. Prior to joining Palestine Legal, Dylan worked as a Staff Attorney for New York Legal Assistance Group’s Tenants’ Rights Unit. There, he represented low income New Yorkers in eviction proceedings and advised tenants on housing matters across New York City. Dylan is a graduate of Berkeley Law, where he volunteered with both the Workers’ Rights Clinic and the International Human Rights Workshop. Dylan has also worked for the Berkeley Law Human Rights Center and for a private public interest law firm in San Francisco. During law school, Dylan won awards for his coursework in Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Law and Social Movements, and Race and American Law. Dylan is admitted to the New York state bar.
Part 5 – Internal Palestinian Politics
This session will look at the state of Palestinian politics and political institutions as well as the future of the Palestinian national movement, including the effects of the ongoing political division between Fatah & Hamas, the question of if, when and how to hold elections, prospects for internal political and institutional reforms, and the likely challenges of political succession (post-Abbas).
Khaled AL-Hroub is professor in residence of the faculty of liberal arts at Northwestern University in Qatar. His focus is Middle Eastern studies and politics with particular interest on Islam and politics, Arab-Israeli conflict and Arab media studies. Hroub is also a research associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, where he was the founder and director of Cambridge Arab Media Project (CAMP) until 2012. He authored Hamas: A Beginners Guide (2006/2010), Hamas: Political Thought and Practice (2000), and edited Political Islam: Context versus Ideology (2011) and Religious Broadcasting in the Middle East (2012). In Arabic he published Fragility of Ideology and Might of Politics (2010), In Praise of Revolution (2012), The Anxious Intellectual versus the Certain Intellectual (2018). Hroub also published in prose and poetry, and his publications in this area include Tattoo of Cities (prose, 2008), Enchantress of Poetry (poems, 2008), Ink of the Sun (prose, 2016), and I Slap the Face of the Sky and Go on (Poems, 2017). Between 2000 and 2007 he was the host of a weekly book review program on Al Jazeera.
Salem Barahmeh is the Executive Director of UnCivilized Media. Salem previously served as the Executive Director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD). He is currently a Non-Resident Fellow at the US Middle East Project and previously worked as an international affairs advisor to Dr. Hanan Ashrawi at the PLO and the Palestine Investment Fund. He has also worked at Portland Communications in London, as a Policy and Public Affairs Advisor to Gulf governments, and for the Palestinian Embassy to the United States. Salem received a BA in Government from Lawrence University and an MA in Law and Politics from King’s College London.
Dana El Kurd is an assistant professor at the University of Richmond, a non resident senior fellow at the Arab Center Washington, and non resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in the Palestine program. Her work focuses on authoritarianism, international intervention, and state-society relations in the Arab world. Her book, Polarized and Demobilized: Legacies of Authoritarianism in Palestine, was released in January 2020 with Oxford University Press.
Part 6: The Role of Congress – Help or Hindrance?
This session explored the unique role played by Congress in shaping US policy toward Israel/Palestine and the various intended and unintended consequences of that role.
Rebecca Abou-Chedid is a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. She previously was Director of Outreach for the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force; and prior to that was National Policy Director of the Arab American Institute. Rebecca was also co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Just Vision. Rebecca is a graduate of Georgetown Law School and received her BA at Cornell University. She is a Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. Rebecca previously served as a law clerk in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.
Hassan El-Tayyab is FCNL’s legislative director for Middle East policy. His passion for foreign affairs is rooted in his desire to make life better for people in the Middle East, including his extended family in Jordan. He is convinced that advancing a more peaceful and diplomacy-based foreign policy in the Middle East is critical, not only for the family he loves, but for peace and stability worldwide. Prior to joining FCNL in August 2019, he was co-director of the national advocacy group Just Foreign Policy, where he led their lobbying work to advance a more progressive foreign policy in the Middle East and Latin America. He played a major role in the successful passage of the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. military participation in the Saudi-led coalition’s war and blockade on Yemen. His writings and commentaries have been featured in numerous news outlets, including CNN, BBC World News, Politico, The Hill, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, The Intercept and more.
Josh Ruebner is the Director of Government Relations at the Institute for Middle East Understanding. He is an Adjunct Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at Georgetown University. Ruenber is a PhD candidate at University of Exeter’s European Centre for Palestine Studies. He is the author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace, and Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State? He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service, Policy Director at US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Senior Principal at Progress Up Consulting, and Managing Director of Americans for Justice in Palestine Action.