Avi Meyerstein is a Washington, DC lawyer and ALLMEP’s founder. While Israeli-Palestinian hostilities raged in 2003, Avi realized that a lack of interaction and trust between the two peoples were the biggest obstacles to long-term peace. He recognized that people-to-people programs were successfully changing people’s lives and attitudes on a small scale but had to turn away many interested participants for lack of resources. What’s more, few people knew these programs even existed.
Avi then began a pro bono initiative at his then-law firm, Patton Boggs, LLP, to organize Israeli-Palestinian people-to-people organizations so they could work together to raise awareness about their work and increase resources for it. After organizing an initial meeting of 12 organizations in Washington in 2004, he proposed establishing an ongoing coalition, which became ALLMEP.
In the years that followed, he managed a team of dozens of pro bono lawyers and other volunteers that pursued the organization’s agenda through advocacy efforts, coalition meetings, NGO capacity-building workshops, media outreach, and special events. They held hundreds of meetings with members of Congress, policymakers, diplomats, foreign officials, religious and advocacy groups, and philanthropic foundations. Avi later led fundraising and strategic planning efforts to hire ALLMEP’s professional leadership.
Over the years, Avi and his colleagues developed a series of advocacy initiatives aimed at dramatically increasing the resources and reach of these people-to-people projects. Since ALLMEP’s efforts began, the U.S. has injected over $90 million to Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and a total of $230 million to reconciliation programs worldwide.
Avi also proposed the creation of a $200 million International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace to dramatically scale up Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. Today, ALLMEP continues to advocate for that Fund, which is now the subject of bi-partisan legislation pending in the U.S. Congress.
Avi is a partner at the law firm of Husch Blackwell, LLP in Washington, DC. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Dana, and their three daughters.