Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
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The Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center) is an Israeli think tank affiliated with Bar-Ilan University and supported by the NATO Mediterranean Initiative, conducting policy-relevant research on Middle Eastern and global strategic affairs, particularly as they relate to the national security and foreign policy of Israel and regional peace and stability. The center's mission is to contribute to promoting peace and security in the Middle East, through policy-oriented researches on national security in the Middle East. It is located at the Social Sciences Faculty of Bar-Ilan University. The center was founded by Thomas Hecht, a Canadian-Jewish leader, and was dedicated to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, who signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, the first peace agreement ever signed between Israel and an Arab country.
About the BESA Center
BESA according to BESA
Professor Efraim Inbar describes the center's mission as follows: "Over the years, we have been the first to successfully place on the public agenda issues such as the problematic aspects of Palestinian statehood, the danger of Arab chemical and biological weapons and missile stocks, Israel's relations with key countries such as Turkey and India, and the abuse of international institutions in the attempt to delegitimize Israel. Today, the Center leads an attempt to introduce creative thinking about alternatives to the entrenched two-state paradigm in Israeli-Palestinian peace diplomacy, and an initiative to nourish U.S.-Israeli relations."
The center is staffed with strategic thinkers, academic experts and "military men". BESA Center publications and policy recommendations are directed at senior Israeli decision-makers in military and civilian life, the defense and foreign affairs establishments in Israel and abroad, the diplomatic corps, the press, the academic community, leaders of Jewish communities around the world, and the educated public. The center sponsors conferences, lectures, and briefings for international and local audiences, bringing together leading experts from academia and public life, from Israel and abroad. The center has developed cooperative relations with leading strategic research institutes throughout the world, from Ankara to Washington and from London to Seoul. The center conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.
Position and orientation
BESA normally takes a center-right and pro-military viewpoint on policy. In 2009, Inbar's paper "The Rise and Fall of the 'Two States for Two Peoples' Paradigm" said that in light of Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip, the best solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict would be to repartition the country with Egypt governing Gaza, Jordan governing the West Bank, and Israel withdrawing from isolated settlements.
In 2004, "Palestinian Terror Makes Peace a Fantasy". Also, three years before Hamas led the government in Gaza, as Israel was planning its Gaza area withdrawal, E. Inbar wrote on Israel's withdrawal "do it right", and only the future will tell of consequences of withdrawal.
In 2007, "The Mideast Axis of Destabilization," that the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas alliance has acted during the last 15 years as an “axis of destabilization” in the Middle East, achieving major strategic victories at the expense of moderate Arab states, and US, European, and Israeli interests.
In 2013, "The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt-Israel Peace." After July 2013 military coup that removed the Brotherhood from power. Study says it "provides a rare perspective into the movement's ideology."
In 2015, "The Lies of Saeb Erekat: How Palestinian Propaganda Warps the Truth and Undermines Peace Efforts." About what it describes as "incendiary propaganda document replete with blatant lies and utter distortions of history penned by Saeb Erekat," stating, it "reveals just how far the Palestinian leadership is from accepting the premises necessary for true peace with Israel."
In 2016, BESA published a policy paper supporting the continued existence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), albeit in a weakened state. The paper, authored by then-director Inbar (who has since left BESA to establish the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies), described ISIL as a security protection for Israel and the West as well as a useful tool against Syria, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.
In May, 2017, "Reparations for Jews from Arab Countries Should be an integral Part of any Peace Agreement." Recognizing the Arab refugees, but also solving the issue about "900,000 Jews of Arab countries," who "were forced to leave their homes, and their properties were summarily expropriated."
In June 2017 BESA noted, When Palestinians are Hopeless, Terror Declines; When Hopeful, Terrorism Increases.
In December 2017, after a research of Palestinian schools 2016-17, it published a study "Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority: The Attitude to Jews, to Israel and to Peace." That it covers the expressions of the attitude to the Jewish-Israeli "other", the delegitimization, and the indoctrination of youths to violence.
In January, 2018, after the chemical attack in Syria, "Why Won't Russia Support the Investigation of Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria?"
In April, 2018, "Discouraging the Use of Chemical Weapons Is Valuable Unto Itself." That "the way we react to the attack on Assad's CW assets can affect the possibility of future use. We should applaud the international actions against Assad's CW instead of complaining about what the attacks didn't accomplish."
In May, 2018, "The Korean Peninsula: Peaceful Change or Back to Square One?" That although there are no conclusion from the summit, "there is reason for optimism."
In Nay, 2018, "Middle East Peace Will Come Through Containment of the Iranian Threat", after Netanyahu's impressive presentation in which he revealed the Iranian plan to turn itself into a nuclear superpower.
In January, 2019: "Canary Mission Is Effective Against BDS". Summary, "Canary Mission monitors, spotlights, and reports cases of online hate speech – a vital service, as hate speech often precedes hateful acts of violence. It remains to be seen whether this undertaking will be embraced by the people it is designed to defend and protect."
In March, 2019, "The Israeli-Egyptian Peace: 40 Years On". Stating, that "in stark contrast to the extraordinary vision and courage displayed by PM Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in signing the peace treaty 40 years ago, the Palestinian leadership emerges as staunchly rejectionist and a serial squanderer of opportunities for peace. One can only hope that the Arab regimes, which appear increasingly reluctant to remain hostage to Palestinian rejectionism, will be courageous enough to follow in Sadat's visionary footsteps.
In September 2020, Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar asked "Why do the Arabs hate the Palestinians?" And that "for many reasons, the Arab world is not at all interested in giving the Palestinian Arabs a state. The Palestinian Arabs don't really want one either, because why kill the "refugee" goose that lays the golden eggs."
Impact and status
BESA is one of approximately 35 think tanks in Israel, which, according to Hannah Elka Meyers, typically have little impact on politics or policymaking despite their numbers. She notes in her study that even the heads of Israeli think tanks concede their lack of impact on politics, and quotes Inbar as saying, "We should be modest in our evaluation of the impact of think tanks." Issues that keep Israeli think tanks from being as influential as those in the U.S. include their more academic focus, lack of funding, the nation's political structure, and Israeli citizens' attitudes about government. While BESA staff includes numerous "military men", Meyers notes that the IDF has similar, if not independent research and strategy facilities but with access to classified information.
In the University of Pennsylvania's 2014 Global Go To Think Tanks Report, the center was ranked the ninth best think thank in the Middle East and North Africa, behind the Carnegie Middle East Center (Lebanon), ACPSS (Egypt), Brookings (Qatar), EDAM (Turkey), INSS (Israel), Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, (AJCS) (Qatar), TESEV (Turkey), and GRC (Saudi Arabia).
Areas of study
- Israeli strategic thought process
- Regional deterrence and security
- Strategic alternatives within the peace process
- Interior and foreign policy of the Palestinian Authority
- Israeli public opinion on national security
- Israel–United States relations
- Lower intensity of terror and violence
- Israeli–Turkish strategic relations
- Security in the east to the Mediterranean Sea region
- Water sources in the Middle East
- WMD proliferation
- Arms control in the Middle East
- Military industries
- IDF in the future
- Israel-Asia relations
- "American Friends of Bar-Ilan University: Strengthening Jewish and Zionist Values 'The BESA Center Ranked as One of the Three Top Middle East Think Tanks'"http://www.afbiu.org/about-afbiu/besa-center-top-ranked Archived 2014-12-22 at the Wayback Machine
- "BESA profile 2003" http://davidmweinberg.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Begin-Sadat-Center-for-Strategic-Studies-Corporate-Profile-2003.pdf
- Daniel Estrin (2017-06-01). "Trump Delays Promised U.S. Embassy Move To Jerusalem". NPR.
- "Benn, Aluf 'Head of right-wing think tank: Settlements must be evacuated; Prof. Efraim Inbar calls for repartition of Israel, with Egypt resuming control of the Gaza Strip.' (27 Jan 2009) Haaretz" http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/head-of-right-wing-think-tank-settlements-must-be-evacuated-1.268922
- Inbar, Efraim (2 August 2016). "The Destruction of Islamic State is a Strategic Mistake". BESA. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
- "Palestinian Terror Makes Peace a Fantasy – Bulletin #17". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2004-07-01. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "The Mideast Axis of Destabilization". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt-Israel Peace". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "The Lies of Saeb Erekat: How Palestinian Propaganda Warps the Truth and Undermines Peace Efforts". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2015-11-23. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- Ahren, Raphael. "New hawkish security think tank launched in Jerusalem". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
- "Reparations for Jews from Arab Countries Should Be an Integral Part of Any Peace Agreement". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2017-05-15. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- Frisch, Hillel (15 June 2017). "When Palestinians are Hopeless, Terror Declines; When Hopeful, Terrorism Increases". BESA. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
- "Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority: The Attitude to Jews, to Israel and to Peace (Hebrew)". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2017-12-12. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
- "Why Won't Russia Support the Investigation of Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria?". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
- "Discouraging the Use of Chemical Weapons Is Valuable Unto Itself". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2018-04-30. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "The Korean Peninsula: Peaceful Change or Back to Square One?". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2018-05-21. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "Middle East Peace Will Come Through Containment of the Iranian Threat". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2018-05-10. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "Canary Mission Is Effective Against BDS". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- "The Israeli-Egyptian Peace: 40 Years On". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2019-03-26. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "Jordanian ex-minister: Arabs supported Hitler because he hated Jews". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- "You Can't Make Peace with Antisemites". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 2019-12-02. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
- Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, "Why Do the Arabs Hate the Palestinians?" September 24, 2020
- " Hannah Elka Meyers 'Does Israel need Think Tanks' Middle East Quarterly Winter 2009, pp. 37-46"http://www.meforum.org/2061/does-israel-need-think-tanks
- "The 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index". University of Pennsylvania. 2015-02-04. Retrieved 2015-02-14.
- Ahren, Raphael. "New hawkish security think tank launched in Jerusalem". www.timesofisrael.com.
- "On the launch of JISS". Jerusalem Institute of Strategic Studies. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2020.