A new think tank in Washington, DC, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is raising controversy amid claims of antisemitism.
Andrew Bacevich, a leader of the think tank, was praised by presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren for his positions on US wars in the Middle East.
"This notion that we get ourselves entangled in these wars, and it creates more risk for people here at home and more risk for people in the region. I don’t believe it makes us safer and that’s why I want to be able to bring those troops home," said Warren, referencing Bacevich's books in an interview with VICE News.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, on the other hand, stated that the "ancient hate of antisemitism...festers in Washington think tanks like the Quincy Institute," describing it as an "isolationist, blame America First money pit for so-called scholars who've written that American foreign policy could be fixed if only it were rid of the malign influence of Jewish money."
Bacevich called Cotton's claim "absurd," according to the New Yorker.
The Quincy Institute was funded by George Soros and Charles Koch and calls for an end to American military intervention and a refocus on diplomatic strategy, according to the Jewish Insider.
Bacevich said that the institute won't focus on highlighting pro-Israel organizations or donors. "Our purpose is to promote restraint as a central principle of U.S. foreign policy—fewer wars and more effective diplomatic engagement," said Bacevich to the Washington Free Beacon.
In 2017, Bacevich wrote that "The America First Movement did not oppose Jews; it opposed wars that its members deemed needless, costly, and counterproductive. That was its purpose, which was an honorable one."
The think tank leader admitted that there used to be antisemites among the isolationists or anti-interventionist movement, but that he didn't think it was "fair, then, to say that the anti-interventionists generally were antisemitic," according to the New Yorker.
The Quincy Institute doesn't seem to be free of controversial figures, however.
In 2007, Lawrence Wilkerson, a nonresident fellow at the institute, said that "the Jewish lobby in America" and "AIPAC in particular" played an outsize influence in the run-up to the war and had more of an impact than the belief that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson singled out Jewish officials like George W. Bush's national security aide Elliott Abrams, former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz and former Defense Policy Advisory Board Chairman Richard Perle.
"I think there is this view, going back to the 1930s, and maybe it’s shared by some today, that those who would get us into foreign conflicts were part of some elite, and maybe they saw in that elite Jewish influences," said veteran diplomat Dennis Ross to the Free Beacon.Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who are non-resident fellows at the Quincy Institute, wrote the book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, slamming the Israel lobby for allegedly hijacking US foreign policy.
Paul Villar, a veteran CIA officer and an expert on intelligence and terrorism for the Quincy Institute, stated that Republican donor Sheldon Adelson's first loyalty is not the US. "The Republican party isn’t even his first love among political parties. That would be the Likud party. Nor is the United States Adelson’s first love among countries," according to the Free Beacon.
Eli Clifton, an expert for Quincy, suggested that the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think tank was originally a mouthpiece for the Israeli government. In response to questions about whether the institute shares that view, Bacevich told the Free Beacon "I guess if you are interested in Eli Clifton's views it would make sense to contact Eli Clifton."
Diplomat Chas Freeman, who authored the Quincy Institute's first policy brief, blamed the Israel lobby for scuttling his appointment to lead Barack Obama's National Intelligence Council. "The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency," said Freeman, according to Politico. He also accused American Jews of comprising an Israeli "fifth column."
Other lobbies have not enjoyed the same treatment by the Quincy Institute. The institute's cofounder and executive vice president, Trita Parsi, is also the founder of the National Iranian American Coucil which has been accused as serving as a mouthpiece for the Iranian government.
Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of law at George Mason University, told the Free Beacon that many Quincy scholars have singled out Jews and Israel.
"In America, every interest group lobbies for its own interest. If they’re not blaming [the National Iranian American Council] for all of America’s problems in the Middle East, it does seem a particular demonization of Jews and of Israel," said Kontorovich.