Phyllis Bennis (born January 19, 1951) is an American writer, activist, and political commentator. Focusing mainly on issues related to the Middle East and the United Nations, she is a strong critic of Israel and the United States and a leading advocate of Palestinian rights.
She directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Bennis is a left-leaning political activist who has been active in the Middle East since the 1970s and who covered the United Nations in the 1980s. In the early 1980s she was active in the Central America solidarity movement as a member of CISPES (the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador).
In 1987, Bennis witnessed the First Intifada and began to take a serious interest in pro-Palestinian advocacy. She made three additional trips to the Middle East in 1988 and 1989, and her experiences during this period led to a book, From Stones to Statehood: The Palestinian Uprising (1990), in which she describes the first two years of the Intifada and makes the case for a Palestinian homeland.
In 1999, Bennis accompanied a group of congressional aides to Iraq, examining the impact of U.S.-led economic sanctions on humanitarian conditions there.
Bennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C., and of its offshoot, the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. At IPS, Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project, which “works primarily on Middle East and United Nations issues,” focusing on “the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” The project makes use of “education and activism” in an effort to change American policy and also seeks to “democratize and empower” the UN and free it of “U.S. domination.”
She is also a founding member of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which was established in 2002 during the Second Intifada, and currently serves on its steering committee. She is a leader of United for Peace & Justice and co-chairs the UN’s International Coordinating Network on Palestine.
The IPS describes her as having worked with the UN “on several issues related to Palestine and the Middle East” and as advising “several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.” The IPS adds that she “has played an active role in the growing global peace movement” since 2002.