AN AERIAL view of the Temple Mount and east Jerusalem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With a name and logo strikingly similar to that of Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies, and top staff composed of figures who for years were fixtures at Bar-Ilan’s Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, a conservative think tank began operations this month in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) bills itself as Israel’s “new conservative security think tank” that “seeks to counter debilitating currents in Israeli defense and diplomatic discourse and recapture the mainstream in Zionist security thinking.”
Efraim Inbar, who headed the BESA Center for 24 years until his retirement last year, is the president of the new institute. Its two vice presidents are also veterans of BESA: Eran Lerman, a former deputy head at the National Security Council, and David Weinberg, who for years served as the center’s spokesman.
Among other former BESA fellows to join the new enterprise are former NSC head Yaakov Amidror, Uzi Rubin and Hillel Frisch.
Lerman said the institute will focus on Israeli policy- makers. He said the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, headed by Dore Gold, does “great work to educate the world about our issues, but we need a center in Jerusalem that will focus on Israel’s policy makers and the Israeli decision-making process.”
He said over the last 10-15 years, with the National Security Council’s move to Jerusalem, the policy-making “center of gravity” on national security issues is moving to the capital, something that will be enhanced with the future move of the National Security College from Glilot to Jerusalem.
Lerman said the institute will deal with the basic issues of national security, with an emphasis “on the struggle for the future of Jerusalem.”
“There needs to be an institute with a Jerusalem focus,” he said. “The fight for Jerusalem has begun in earnest, and we have to be there.”
A communique announcing the launch of JISS explained that it was set up because the Israeli political Left has, over the last three decades, “astutely financed a multitude of think tanks and public policy centers to buttress an agenda of far-reaching concessions meant to pave the way toward Palestinian statehood with a divided Jerusalem as its capital.
Today, these institutes are perilously advocating unilateral Israeli withdrawals from Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem.”
By contrast, the statement read, “Israeli Center-Right and conservative sectors have not created a serious intellectual infrastructure that might reinforce and lead the mainstream in security thinking.”
The new center, the statement said, “seeks to redress this situation.”
Among the projects under way are “alternatives to the two-state peace paradigm”; “Asian alliances for Israel”; “countering Iranian hegemonic advances”; “Israel’s strategic needs and goals in Judea and Samaria”; and “reinforcing united Jerusalem as a strategic anchor for Israel.”
The institute’s first event – a conference titled “The Struggle for United Jerusalem” – will be held in two weeks in Jerusalem.
Among the lecture topics: “Only exclusive Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem Guarantees Stability,” “The critical strategic importance of Jerusalem” and “Jerusalem: the linchpin of regional stability.”