Phyllis Bennis

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Phyllis Bennis

Phyllis a prominent US anti - Israeli activist.[1]

She runs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

In 2001 she helped found the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation. She advises several leading United Nations officials on Palestine, and in 2013 was in the running to become the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories.[2]


Bennis grew up in a Jewish family in West Los Angeles. She was very active in the Zionist youth movement.[3]


Bennis went to the University of California in Santa Barbara in 1968. radicalized by the Vietnam war she joined Students for a Democratic Society and became a student activist. She brought Angela Davis and the Chicago 7 to campus

After college Bennis returned to Los Angeles, but remained an activist. She worked two years with Joan Fonda and Tom Hayden in the Indochina Peace Campaign.[4]


In the mid 1970s Bennis went to New York for a year to work with the National Lawyers Guild. While working for the NLG, a delegation was sent to Israel, the West Bank to investigate Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Bennis worked with the Palestine Liberation Organization delegation at the United nations to organize the tour. The report they issued was the beginning of Bennis' anti Israel activity. She joined Jews and Arabs Against Zionism.[5]

Line of March

During the 1980s, Phyllis Bennis was involved in the Maoist leaning Line of March organization[6].

Socialist Scholars Conference 1990

The Socialist Scholars Conference 1990, held September 6-8, at the Hotel Commodore, New York, included panels such as:[7]

Developments in the USSR and Eastern Europe and their Significance for Western Europe and the US Left

War Times

In January 2002, a group of San Francisco leftists, mainly involved with STORM or Committees of Correspondence, founded a national anti-Iraq War newspaper[8] War Times.

Endorsers of the project included Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Iraq activism

Phyllis Bennis and Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., at the December 7, 2002, "Don't Attack Iraq" forum in Minneapolis

Based at the United Nations, Phyllis Bennis began working on U.S. domination of the UN at the time of the run-up to the Gulf War, and has stayed involved in work on Iraq sanctions, disarmament and U.S. policy towards Iraq. In 1999 Bennis accompanied a group of congressional aides to Iraq to examine the impact of U.S.-led economic sanctions on the humanitarian conditions there, and joined former UN Assistant secretary General Denis Halliday, who resigned his position as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq to protest the impact of sanctions, for a speaking tour.

In November 2003, Phyllis Bennis was interviewed by Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures about alternatives to the empire-building and war-mongering of the Bush regime. "What the world needs to keep the peace is not an empire lording over the rest of the world, but a democratic international system based on law, global institutions, and the UN Charter," says Bennis. "The vast disparities of income within countries and between North and South, the disempowerment of peoples around the world whose repressive governments rely on US financial, political, and military backing--these are the real threats to the peace, and a US empire does not make any of us safer. A world without an empire would not be a utopia; it would simply allow nations around the world a chance to build better lives for their people and allow people around the world a chance at gaining human rights.

United for Peace and Justice

In Dec 2008 Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies was voted onto the Steering Committee for United for Peace and Justice[9]

Disarm Now! conference

In June 2010, Phyllis Bennis addressed the Disarm Now! Conference, Riverside Church, New York. (Workshop: Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East), is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC and of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. She has written widely on Middle East and UN-related issues and her books include: Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power, and the just-released Ending the US War in Afghanistan: a Primer..[10]

Iraq: The Legacy of the 7-Year U.S. Occupation

On Sunday, August 29th 2010. at Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Sts. NW, Washington, D.C., an event "Iraq: The Legacy of the 7-Year U.S. Occupation" was held;

Is the U.S. military really leaving Iraq or just rebranding? What is the toll of seven years of occupation on Iraqis, U.S. soldiers and our economies? What is the status of Iraqi refugees around the world? Is it still possible to hold accountable those who dragged us into the war or committed crimes such as torture? What role did Congress and the media play in facilitating the invasion/occupation? We'll also look at the role of the peace movement -- its strengths and weaknesses -- and draw key lessons to make our work for peace, including in Afghanistan, more effective.

Speakers/performers included:

The event was sponsored by: CODEPINK, Peace Action, Institute for Policy Studies, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Global Exchange, Just Foreign Policy, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), U.S. Labor Against the War, ANSWER, World Can’t Wait, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War is a Crime, Rivera Project, Washington Peace Center.[11]