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Opinion

The Production of Knowledge: limits and critiques


I will start a series of articles and feature extracts to highlight how think tanks get it wrong, purposefully, to push a certain agenda. Today’s post comes from: “Special Document File – “The Israeli Lobby.” Journal of Palestine Studies 35(3) (Spring 2006): 83-114.”

On page 11 it reads:

“The Lobby’s influence extends well beyond WINEP, however. Over the past 25 years, pro-Israel forces have established a commanding presence at the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Security Policy, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for For- eign Policy Analysis, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). These think tanks employ few, if any, critics of U.S. support for Israel.
Take the Brookings Institution. For many years, its senior expert on the Middle East was William Quandt, a former NSC official with a well-deserved reputation for even- handedness. Today, Brookings’s coverage is conducted through the Saban Center for Middle East Studies, which is financed by Haim Saban, an Israeli-American businessman and ardent Zionist. The center’s director is the ubiquitous Martin Indyk. What was once a nonpartisan policy institute is now part of the pro-Israel chorus.”

This holds more for the “Arab Spring” and how now Isreal’s foreign policy is adapting to push for cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood, not surprisingly in exchange for a continued siege on the Gaza strip.


 Qatar, where Brookings Doha is situated, now seeks to extend its ‘soft power’ grip and much like Al Jazeera is a foreign policy arm so to has the Qatar Foundation become. It funds any Arab (and probably non-Arab) PhD holder who is willing to continue talking about the Arab Spring in terms of Bahrain being a security threat (not an uprising), the GCC monarchies being stable (where drone strikes in Yemen are encouraged) and where increasingly the Palestinian file becomes a bargaining chip. In saying all this it is important not to forgot the major pillar of the “Arab Spring” image presented by think tanks and some of their respective patron regimes: a pro-intervention attitude in Syria. Kid yourselves not intervention is already happening just without ‘boots on the ground’. What better way to seek to project power than by producing knowledge.

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About Karim Malak

Researcher at AUC's political science department. Twitter: @karimmaged Karimmkarim@gmail.com

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