On October 27 and 28, Gisha Executive Director Tania Hary participated in the eighth annual conference held by Jewish American lobby group J Street in Washington DC. A number of American officials attended the conference, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Michael Bennet and Congress Member Ilhan Omar, as well as Israeli and Palestinian officials, including the head of the Joint List and Israeli Member of Knesset, Ayman Odeh, Palestinian official Saeb Erakat, and representatives of several civil society organizations.

On the first day of the conference, Hary participated in a panel entitled “Gaza: From Crisis to Crisis,” which focused on the roles of various actors – including Hamas, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States administration, and the international community – in maintaining Gaza’s inhuman status quo. The other panelists were Elizabeth Campbell, Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Washington DC, Celine Touboul, Deputy Director General at the Economic Cooperation Foundation, and Palestinian author Yousef Bashir, who was born and raised in the Gaza Strip. During the discussion, Hary noted that restoring freedom of movement for residents of Gaza is a fundamental condition for progressing toward a just and sustainable solution to the situation.

On the second day of the conference, Hary moderated a panel comprised of civil society representatives, entitled “Stifling Dissent in Israel and the Palestinian Territory.” The panelists in this session were Issa Amro, Co-Founder of Youth against Settlements, human rights lawyer Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, and Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu. The discussion centered on the shrinking space for human rights advocacy and anti-occupation work in Israel and the impact this is having on the struggle for Palestinians’ rights.