Israel Lobby and NED combine to promote Arab democracy
From WINEP’s Policy Watch/Peacewatch section:
On October 3, 2007, Robert Satloff, Kenneth Wollack, Lorne Craner, and Michael Mandelbaum addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Dr. Satloff is executive director of the Institute. Mr. Wollack is president of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and chairman of the board for the U.S. Committee for the UN Development Program. Mr. Craner is president of the International Republican Institute and former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor.
The following is a summary of Satloff’s remarks:
The Washington Institute is proud to launch Project Fikra, a new initiative to counter Middle Eastern extremism. Fikra, which means “idea” in Arabic, will build networks for liberals and moderates, forge links with women and youths, and feature innovative research to counteract radical ideologies. J. Scott Carpenter, former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, will head the project, thanks to the generous support of the Keston family. This Policy Forum, the initial event of Project Fikra, looks at one of the key areas the project will explore, namely, democracy promotion in the Middle East, which was once a priority of the Bush administration.
The NDI and IRI are, respectively, the Democratic and Republican halves of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), whose longtime president, Carl Gershman, used to do “research” for the ADL before he turned his attention to “democracy promotion.” WINEP, of course, is “a key organization in the Israel lobby,” as Steve Walt points out:
It was founded in 1985 by three individuals: Larry and Barbi Weinberg, who had formerly been the president and vice-president of AIPAC; and Martin Indyk, who was previously deputy director for research there. These founders understood that AIPAC’s efforts would be enhanced if there was a separate, seemingly “objective” research organization to provide consistently “pro-Israel” analysis and commentary, while AIPAC concentrated on more direct lobbying activities. Although WINEP claims that it provides a “balanced and realistic perspective” on Middle East issue, anyone who spends a few hours examining its website and reading its publications will realize this is not the case.
In fact, WINEP is funded and led by individuals who are deeply committed to defending the special relationship, and promoting policies in Washington that they believe will benefit Israel. Its board of advisors is populated with prominent advocates for Israel such as Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Mortimer Zuckerman, and there’s no one on this board who is remotely critical of Israel or inclined to favor any other country in the “Near East.”