Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) is an Israeli research institute specializing in public diplomacy and foreign policy founded in 1976. Currently, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs's research portfolio consists of five primary initiatives: the Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA), Defensible Borders Initiative, Jerusalem in International Diplomacy, Iran and the New Threats to the West, and Combating Delegitimization. More broadly, the think-tank concentrates on the topics of Iran, Radical Islam, the Middle East, Israel, the Peace Process, Jerusalem, Anti-Semitism, and World Jewry.
|Founder||Daniel J. Elazar|
|Type||Public Policy Think Tank|
|Method||"A multidisciplinary, independent non-profit think tank for Israel policy research and education, bringing together the best minds in the political, strategic, diplomatic and legal arenas, in Israel and abroad."|
|Dore Gold (President, 2000 - 2015 & 2016 - present)|
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs also publishes the academic journal, Jewish Political Studies Review. The journal is published biannually and is "the first and only journal dedicated to the study of Jewish political institutions and behavior, Jewish political thought, and Jewish public affairs." The research institute is a registered non-profit organization and produces content in English, Hebrew, French, and German.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs also produces the Daily Alert for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a daily news summary and analysis concerning Israel, Iran, radical Islam, and other regional security issues distributed through email. Much of the research behind the Daily Alert is conducted by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs Director of Internet Publishing Mark Amiel. Because the Daily Alert is published in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs office in Jerusalem, the time-zone difference between its publication and much of its targeted audience in Europe and North America is greatly beneficial. In part, the project was conceived to ensure that politicians and thought leaders would have an authoritative source of the most important daily news on their desk every morning. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs website, a member of the United States Department of State commented that, "The [Daily] Alert is one of the first things I turn to in the morning for information and insight on what may be the talk of the town that day. I'm better prepared because of them."
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs was established in 1978 by Daniel Elazar as an umbrella organization encompassing the Center for Jewish Community Studies and the Jerusalem Institute for Federal Studies. Elazar personally raised most of the funds for the operation of the organization and the restoration of an historic building on Tel Hai Street in Jerusalem, named in honor of the Milken family. The building, Beit Milken, served as the Embassy of Uruguay from 1957 to 1980, when Uruguay decided to move their embassy to Tel Aviv. In 1989, the 1,200 ton building was moved 16 meters on rails to reach the site it currently occupies.
Dr. Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN and former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, headed the Jerusalem Center from 2000 to 2015, when he took a leave of absence to become director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dore Gold has returned as president of the Jerusalem Center.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is an organisation which largely focuses on Israeli security, regional diplomacy, and international law. The essence of the organization's positions regarding final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was articulated within their Defensible Borders Initiative. A continuing project dating back to the early-2000s, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has made explicit their stance on the matter, particularly in a YouTube video released in May 2010.
Regarding the Jordan Rift Valley, the organization is opposed to the presence of international peacekeeping troops given their poor track-record in the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and Southern Lebanon (see United Nations Emergency Force and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon). Accordingly, the organization argues that Israel must retain control of the Jordan Valley. Concerning the future of the Palestinian territories, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs advocates for demilitarization and Israel's ability to exercise control of airspace and electromagnetic communications throughout Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank).
Research conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs fellow Nadav Shragai, as well as, the organization's program Jerusalem in International Diplomacy maintain that Jerusalem should remain unified and under Israeli sovereignty. Also, the organization is unequivocally opposed, and actively seeks to undermine, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Another core program of the institute, Combating Delegitimization and BDS, alongside the work of scholar Dan Diker demonstrates the movement's objectives of achieving a one-state solution, dismantling Israel, and its correlation with anti-Semitism incidents.
The think-tank is a supporter of the two-state solution calling for a "demilitarized Palestinian state" alongside Israel.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs does not comment, publish, or advocate any explicit policy decisions concerning Israeli domestic security. Accordingly, no articles, videos, or major publications on the think-tank's website will discuss political coalitions in Israel nor mention its major parties (e.g. Likud, Zionist Union, etc.).
Institutes and publications
The Jerusalem Center founded the Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation. The current director of the ICA is Ambassador Alan Baker. Through this outlet, the JCPA publishes Jerusalem Issue Briefs and Jerusalem Viewpoints. They also publish the twice-yearly Strategic Perspectives, special reports presenting studies on Israeli security and diplomacy topics by the Contributing Editors board of the ICA. The JCPA is also the publisher of the Jewish Political Studies Review, an academic journal which publishes articles on Jewish public affairs, Jewish institutions and behavior, and Jewish political thought. It is published twice yearly.
In 2008, JCPA founded the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs in response to growing international anti-Semitism. Directed by Manfred Gerstenfeld, the institute addresses a variety of topics related to Jewish communities around the world. The institute helps direct the "Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Project" and its associated monthly publication "Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism," both of which attend to global anti-Semitism. More can be learned about these below in the Programs and Initiatives section. The JCPA also produces a related publication entitled "Changing Jewish Communities," which is less focused on global anti-Semitism and, therefore, addresses a wide variety of issues related to global Jewish communities. Additionally, the JCPA has organized a publication called "Jewish Environmental Studies," which looks deeply at Jewish environmental studies as a separate and important field and analyzes Jewish environmental thought through references from the Bible and classic Jewish texts.
In addition to their written publications, the JCPA produces numerous videos that analyze a variety of issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East. These include videos created by the center as well as videos of JCPA contributors appearing in various news outlets or conference venues. The videos can be found on the JCPA website or on the JCPA’s YouTube page.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has recently published multiple studies relating to Israeli security, international diplomacy, and the status of Jerusalem. As part of the organization's emphasis on making their material public and accessible, all of their major survey studies are digitalized and published on their website.
In the wake of the so-called 'Knife Intifada', the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published a collection edited by in-house scholar Fiamma Nirenstein. The collaborative project features articles by, among others, former Ambassadors Dore Gold, Alan Baker, and Freddy Eytan, as well as Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser and Dan Diker. The overarching theme of the publication focused on the similarity, rather than the misconceived differences, between terrorism in Israel and Europe. Moreover, several articles presented a valuable sociological exploration of Israeli society and its penchant for preparedness, vigilance, and resilience.
Another seminal work published in 2016 by in-house scholar Dan Diker was an in-depth exploration of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement. Entitled BDS Unmasked: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends, Diker traces the roots of the BDS movement arguing that it represents only the most recent incarnation of a historical attempt to boycott Israel. The publication also references foundational members of BDS (e.g. Omar Barghouti) in demonstrating the movement's support for the one-state solution and dismantling of the Israeli state.:6–8 The book also demonstrates a powerful relationship between BDS activities and anti-Semitic incidents on university campuses.:81
Jerusalem also features largely in the think-tank's work. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs scholar, Nadav Shragai, published a historical and legal evaluation of Jerusalem and the city's role in final status peace negotiations entitled . Informed, in part, by recent polling data from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Shragai argues that a majority of Jerusalem's Arabs favour preserving their Israeli citizenship rather than substituting it for a Palestinian one.:Preface More importantly for Shagrai, Jerusalem's Arab community is increasingly being incorporated into the Jewish municipal fabric and represents a valuable dimension to future negotiations over the status of Jerusalem.:Introduction
On March 24, 2014, the Jerusalem Center held a conference entitled "Europe and Israel: A New Paradigm." The conference focused on the complicated relationship between Israel and Europe, including topics such as economics and the BDS movement, security and anti-Semitism. The conference was well attended and received a significant amount of press, including articles in The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, J-Wire, Ynetnews, and CBN News.
Programs and initiatives
Defensible Borders initiative
One of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs major research initiatives, Defensible Borders for Israel, seeks to "analyzes current terror threats and Israel's corresponding territorial requirements, particularly in the strategically vital West Bank." The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs maintains that Israel must continue to exercise this right to preserve Israel's security requirements.
The program's inception dates back to a joint conference with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in 2004. Accordingly, the think-tank deepened its ties with organizations including the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Herzliya Conference based on presentations concerning "defensible borders". According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the organization played a pivotal role in publicizing the term "defensible borders" and its ascension within the lexicon of contemporary Middle Eastern security issues.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affair's most recent publication emanating from this initiative was published in 2014 entitled, Israel's Critical Requirements for Defensible Borders: The Foundation for a Secure Peace. The monograph is the latest version of an earlier study, Israel's Critical Security Requirements for Defensible Borders: The Foundations for a Viable Peace. Most of the updated material was added in late 2013 and early 2014. The publication included sections written by Moshe Yaalon, Dore Gold, Uzi Dayan, Yossi Kuperwasser, and Dan Diker. The content ranged from Israel's long-term security needs and defensible borders, to the shortcomings of United Nations Resolution 242 and key principles for a demilitarized Palestinian state.
Combating delegitimization and BDS
A core component of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs concerns efforts by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to delegitimize Israel. According to the organization's website, the initiative "is a major multilingual public diplomacy program" which seeks to expose those who undermine Israel's very legitimacy. This programme entails reinforcing the connection between "the Jewish people and their historical homeland including Jerusalem." Many of the institute's scholars, including Dan Diker and Ambassador Alan Baker, have published extensively on subjects pertaining to this initiative. This includes Dan Diker's BDS Unmasked: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends as well as Ambassador Baker's Palestinian Manipulation of the International Community.
Jerusalem in international diplomacy
Jerusalem's centrality to final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has ensured that it is a subject which garners disproportionate scrutiny. The intermingling of religious, political, and legal dimensions has encouraged the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs to publish extensively on the subject. Spearheaded by Nadav Shragai, the initiative has led to such publications as, Jerusalem: Delusions of Division (2015), Jerusalem: Correcting the International Discourse (2012), and The 'Al-Aksa Is in Danger Libel: The History of a Lie (2012). As outlined in the organization's policy video, the interlocking Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem make division unfeasible. Mindful of Jerusalem's history during the Jordanian occupation when religious freedoms were curtailed, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs believes that the city must remain undivided and under Israeli sovereignty.
Iran and the New Threats to the West
This program focuses on security threats posed by Iran to Israel and the West. The program began with a publication entitled “Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide,” authored by Dore Gold and Elie Wiesel, among others. The publication was created in response to multiple threats directed toward Israel by the Iranian leader, including a 2006 declaration that “Israel should be wiped off the map.” The JCPA continues to monitor security threats posed by Iran in the post-Ahmadinejad era with this program.
Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Project
Initiated by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, the program focuses on anti-Semitism after the Holocaust and "its origins and lessons, manifestations and mutations." The initiative produces a monthly publication which addresses issues concerning past and presents acts directed against World Jewry and, among other issues, highlights anti-Israel boycotts, the manipulation of Holocaust history, and anti-Semitism emanating from Muslim and Christian communities. The program consists of conferences, seminars, lectures, interviews, and essays. As well, its content is available in English and French. The most recent publication, "Why a New Academic Discipline of Post-Holocaust Studies Should Be Established and What Its Content Should Be", argues that while the Holocaust has been instrumental in shaping modern society, its study is often confined to mass murder while its continued influence today is often neglected.
Global Law Forum
This program covers issues pertaining to Israel and international law. The goal of the program is to “protect Israel’s legal rights in its conflict with the Palestinians, the Arab world, and radical Islam.” Topics include the legality of settlements, human rights, and Israeli border issues, among others. Avi Bell directs the program. Additional contributors include Robert Sabel, Ruth Lapidoth, Irit Kohn, Alan Baker, Meir Rosenne, and Justus Weiner.
The following individuals have presented some form of involvement with the JCPA.
Team of experts
- Ambassador Dore Gold - Is the current President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold has served in this position since 2000 apart for a brief hiatus where he served as Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from May 2015 until October 2016. Earlier in his career, Gold was appointed by Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as Israel's Permanent Representative (i.e. Ambassador) to the United Nations form 1997-1999. Gold also was a member of the Israeli delegation during the Wye River negotiations with the Palestinians. Gold is also the author of several best-selling books including Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos.
- Ambassador Alan Baker - Served as Israel's former Ambassador to Canada. An expert on international law, Baker participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. Furthermore, Baker has served as Legal Adviser and Deputy Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Ambassador Freddy Eytan - Was Israel's first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Eytan also served as spokesman of the Israeli delegation during the peace process. Eytan is also a former Foreign Ministry senior adviser to Israel's embassies in Paris and Brussels and is the author of over 20 books, including biographies of Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu.
- Ambassador Zvi Mazel - Served as Israel's Ambassador to Sweden between 2002-2004. Earlier in his career, Mazel was Israel's Ambassador to Romania from 1989-1992 and Israel's Ambassador to Egypt from 1996-2001.
- Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser - Formerly served as the Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. Current position at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments.
- Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi - Co-Founder of the Orient Research Group
- Dr. Jacques Neriah - Formerly Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
- Justus Reid Weiner - Human rights lawyer and distinguished Scholar-in-Residence. He is a member of the New York and Israel Bar.
- Lenny Ben-David - Served 25 years in senior posts in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy in Washington D.C.
- Fiamma Nirenstein - Former member of the Italian Parliament and Vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
- Hirsh Goodman - Established Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, former Editor-in-Chief for the Jerusalem Post, and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- Nadav Shragai - Served as a journalist and commentator at Ha'aretz between 1983 and 2009 and resident specialist on Jerusalem.
- Pinhas Inbari - Veteran Arab affairs correspondent, formerly reported for Israel Radio and the newspaper Al Hamishmar.
- Dan Diker - Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC Herzliya and former Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress.
- Yoni Ben Menachem - veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator.
- Dr. Harold Rhode - Served for 28 years as an advisor on the Islamic World in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Is also a Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
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- Fiamma Nirenstein, ed., "Lessons from Israel's Response to Terrorism," 2017, http://jcpa.org/lessons-israels-response-terrorism/
- Dan Diker, BDS Unmasked: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2016), 6-8, http://jcpa.org/pdf/Unmasking_.pdf
- Nadav Shragai, Jerusalem: Delusions of Division (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2015)
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- Israel’s Rights as a Nation-State in International Diplomacy, p. 237, at Google Books