Tel Aviv U to fold Jaffee Center into new think tank

Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, one of Israel's best-known academic policy centers, will be folded into the new Institute for National Strategy and Policy established by Australian billionaire Frank Lowy, TAU President Itamar Rabinovich announced on Monday. The new center, which will not be housed on the TAU campus, will take advantage of the university's academic resources but be independent of it, Rabinovich said at a press conference announcing the center's launch. On a practical level, Lowy said, this meant the institute could "put positions forward that don't agree with university." Zvi Shtauber, the director of the Jaffee Center who will head the new think tank, said it was no secret that the defense establishment has a monopoly on developing the country's strategic policy. Shtauber, himself a reserve brigadier-general, said that the idea behind the center was to infuse the national debate with "new ideas." Referring to defense establishment strategists, Shtauber said, "We don't want an anonymous individual determining our fate" without taking into consideration different ideas. Former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, who joined Lowy, Rabinovich and Shtauber at the press conference, will be deputy chairman of the institute's governing board. Indyk, who set up the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is currently director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, said he hoped the experience he has gained setting up two think tanks, as well as his "Washington perspective," would be useful to the new center. Indyk said that the Iranian nuclear issue was certain to be a focus of the institute's work when it begins operations in October. In this regard, Rabinovich said he hoped that a debate currently gaining traction in the US - whether deterrence could be established with a nuclear Iran - will be "brought to Israel" as well. Rabinovich said that the new center would base itself on the foundations of the Jaffee center, established in 1977, and incorporate its staff and programs. He said the new institution, which will include both academics and strategy "practitioners," would have greater resources and be able to expand its scope. Lowy did not say what the center's annual budget would be, but added that the new center "would not lack resources."