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Ariel Center for Policy Research
Selected Authors & Associates
- Anne Bayefsky
- Ilan Berman
- Rachel Ehrenfeld
- Irving Moskowitz
- Walid Phares
- James Woolsey
The Israel-based Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR) is a hardline advocacy and research institute founded in 1997 that espouses a right-wing Likud Party line on Israeli security and is associated with conservative “pro-Israel” advocacy groups in the United States. As of 2013, the Ariel Center’s website appeared to be largely defunct.
ACPR has described the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as “a paradox whereby a minuscule democracy is being forced to provide its totalitarian enemies—scores of times its size—the only thing it lacks: territory.” The group stated in a 2001 publication that any effort to pursue peace on the basis of returning to pre-1967 border was a recipe for war: “It is, in fact, completely clear that by relinquishing the territorial assets that have guaranteed its existence since 1967, Israel will return to the ‘Auschwitz borders’ (Abba Eban) and thereby restore the reason for war.”
Although the group appears to have been inactive for several years, some ACPR figures have continued to highlight their connection to the center. Louis René Beres, a professor of international relations at Purdue University and a columnist for several right-wing publications, highlighted his ACPR affiliation in an April 2013 column in which he likened Iran's purported nuclear ascendancy to North Korea's. Like North Korea's program, Beres argued, Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program was likely too far along to be stopped by Israeli or U.S. action—an assessment disputed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials, who think that Iran's leaders have not made the decision to weaponize their program. Beres also linked the Iran issue to the Palestinian issue, asserting without explanation that "President Barack Obama’s undimmed insistence that Israel undertake further territorial surrenders in compliance with a presumed Two-State Solution could actually enlarge Iran's ultimate nuclear threat to the Jewish State."
Canadian writer Mark Silverberg listed himself as an ACPR foreign policy analyst in a February 2009 column for the Israeli Arutz Sheva in which he claimed that "Britain is slowly succumbing to Islamic ‘dhimmitude’—whether out of fear, ignorance or Arab financial interests in Britain." Echoing Europe-based neoconservative groups like the Henry Jackson Society, Silverberg warned that Muslim immigration to the United Kingdom was spreading anti-Semitism and turning London into "Londonistan."
The center has served as a perch for numerous scholars and ideologues who support the group's hard line on Middle East politics. Ariel's website provides a list of "Authors & Associates," many of whom are U.S.-based writers and public figures who have been closely aligned with the U.S. pro-Israel right. These include Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute; Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council; Rachel Ehrenfeld, head of the American Center for Democracy; Irving Moskowitz, a California casino magnate who has underwritten settler groups in Israel and supported a number of neoconservative outfits, including the American Enterprise Institute; Walid Phares, a controversial terrorism “expert” with ties to the Lebanese Phalangist militia; and James Woolsey, former director of the CIA. Other “contributing experts” to the Ariel Center included Meyrav Wurmser of the Hudson Institute and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, as well as several Israeli military and civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The center has been led by a board of directors and an advisory council, which have included the likes of William Van Cleave, a Reagan administration defense official who is closely associated with an enduring clique of hawkish elites who first banded together in the late 1970s to form the Committee on the Present Danger, an advocacy group that championed an aggressive U.S. posture toward the Soviet Union. Ariel Center’s leadership has also included: Louis René Beres; Moshe Arens, a Likud Party member and former Israeli defense minister; and Yossef Bodansky, an influential Capitol Hill figure who headed the 1998 Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, which fanned fears of Saddam Hussein's purported proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and warned of impending widespread violence throughout the Middle East.
In addition to publishing research pieces and commentaries, the Ariel Center also published the bimonthly journal Nativ, which the center billed as a "journal of politics and the arts." Nativ was originally established in 1988 (before the Ariel Center was founded) as a publication focusing, according to its website, "on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the fascinating phenomenon of the Jewish left wing self-hatred to the conceptual failure of the Israeli ballistic missile defense system (the Arrow)." It claimed that its initial "fundamental assumption … was to rescue the Israeli public discourse from the abstract, theological plane and to transform it into a constructive discussion based on a foundation of data and facts." To achieve this, it aimed to influence the "upper-echelon" of policy elites in the country. However, despite the fact that it has counted among its editorial board members several current and former Israeli officials—including Netanyahu, Moshe Arens, Ariel Sharon, and Uzi Landau—the magazine claimed to have failed in its mission because "once [these officials] donned the mantle of Prime Minister or government minister they favored short-term political considerations over long-term strategic aspects."
Nativ's pages were typically filled with hardline opinion and analysis pieces that echo the views of the Ariel Center and its associates. For example, its September 2006 issue included an article by Moshe Sharon titled "To Clean Out the Stables and Prepare for War," which ridiculed the Israeli leadership for its performance during the 2006 war in Lebanon and argued that the only serious approach should be destroying Syria. Wrote Sharon: "Over the last decade and a half, ever since the foolishness of the Oslo Accords, everything has been done to erode the nation's resolve, its strength, and its belief in the justness of its path. Contributing to this phenomenon has been a media mobilized to the insane idea of 'peace' and a 'new Middle East,' various intellectuals who depicted peace as being just around the corner and prevented by the 'occupation,' which, if it were only to end, the End of Days would arrive immediately and Islam would lovingly accept the Jewish state."
An issue from May 2008, which appears to be the last year the journal was published, called Israeli Arabs "the only minority in the world that fails to recognize its country of residence and…above all seeks to liquidate it." Various other pieces in the issue accused progressive Jews of abetting the Arab "liquidation" of Israel, with one accusing anti-Zionist Jews of "surrender[ing] their Jewish identity in favor of their Leftist politics."
The Ariel Center's other activities and associated programs have included the Hatikvah Educational Foundation, which ran full-page ads in Israeli and U.S. newspapers, including the Washington Times; produced documentary films; published books; and organized conferences around the world on themes such as "Islamic Fanaticism and Latin-American Implications," "Islamic Terrorism and American Response," and anti-Semitism. Speakers included Daniel Pipes, the neoconservative founder of the Middle East Forum, who spoke at a May 11, 2001 Ariel Center conference in Bilkent, Turkey on the "Turkish-Israeli Strategic Cooperation."
The center's financial backers have included the Tel Aviv-based Arison Foundation and the New York-based Friends of the Ariel Center for Policy Research. The Arison Foundation was founded by deceased Israeli billionaire and Carnival Cruise line founder Ted Arison, who before his death in 1999 was regarded as the "world's wealthiest Jew." The Ariel Center received its founding grant from the Arison Foundation in 1998.
The Friends of the Ariel Center for Policy Research was a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Brooklyn, New York, whose primary purpose, according to its 2010 Form 990 tax return, was "to support an academic policy and research center in Israel, and to produce, print, and publish research papers and studies." Its total assets as of 2010 totaled more than $645,000.