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|Founder||Daniel J. Elazar|
|Type||Public Policy Think Tank|
|Method||"A multidisciplinary, independent non-profit think tank for Israel policy research and education, bringing together the best minds in the political, strategic, diplomatic and legal arenas, in Israel and abroad."|
|Dore Gold (President, 2000 - 2015 & 2016 - present)|
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) is an Israeli research institute specializing in public diplomacy and foreign policy founded in 1976. Currently, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs's research portfolio consists of five primary initiatives: the Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA), Defensible Borders Initiative, Jerusalem in International Diplomacy, Iran and the New Threats to the West, and Combating Delegitimization. More broadly, the think-tank concentrates on the topics of Iran, Radical Islam, the Middle East, Israel, the Peace Process, Jerusalem, Anti-Semitism, and World Jewry. Its publications include the academic journal Jewish Political Studies Review and the email-distributed Daily Alert, a daily regional news summary. The research institute is a registered non-profit organization and produces content in English, Hebrew, French, and German.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs was established in 1978 by Daniel Elazar as an umbrella organization encompassing the Center for Jewish Community Studies and the Jerusalem Institute for Federal Studies. Elazar personally raised most of the funds for the operation of the organization and the restoration of an historic building on Tel Hai Street in Jerusalem, named in honor of the Milken family. The building, Beit Milken, served as the Embassy of Uruguay from 1957 to 1980, when Uruguay decided to move their embassy to Tel Aviv. In 1989, the 1,200 ton building was moved 16 meters on rails to reach the site it currently occupies.
Dr. Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the UN and former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, headed the Jerusalem Center from 2000 to 2015, when he took a leave of absence to become director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Gold returned as president of the Jerusalem Center.
The JCPA has been described as neo-conservative. It has been headed since 2000 by "Netanyahu confidante" Dore Gold. In 2015 Haaretz identified Sheldon Adelson as "one of the main financers of JCPA in recent years"; Adelson is an American billionaire casino magnate, staunch supporter of Jewish settlement of the West Bank and biggest contributor to US Republicans in the 2018 US midterm elections during President Donald Trump's mandate.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs does not comment, publish, or advocate any explicit policy decisions concerning Israeli domestic security. Accordingly, no articles, videos, or major publications on the think-tank's website will discuss political coalitions in Israel nor mention its major parties (e.g. Likud, Zionist Union, etc.).
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is an organisation which largely focuses on Israeli security, regional diplomacy, and international law. The essence of the organization's positions regarding final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was articulated within their Defensible Borders Initiative. A continuing project dating back to the early-2000s, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has made explicit their stance on the matter, particularly in a YouTube video released in May 2010.
The think-tank is a supporter of the two-state solution calling for a "demilitarized Palestinian state" alongside Israel.
Regarding the Jordan Rift Valley, the organization is opposed to the presence of international peacekeeping troops given their poor track-record in the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and Southern Lebanon (see United Nations Emergency Force and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon). Accordingly, the organization argues that Israel must retain control of the Jordan Valley. Concerning the future of the Palestinian territories, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs advocates for demilitarization and Israel's ability to exercise control of airspace and electromagnetic communications throughout Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank).
Research conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs fellow Nadav Shragai, as well as, the organization's program Jerusalem in International Diplomacy maintain that Jerusalem should remain unified and under Israeli sovereignty.
Also, the organization is unequivocally opposed, and actively seeks to undermine, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Another core program of the institute, Combating Delegitimization and BDS, alongside the work of scholar Dan Diker demonstrates the movement's objectives of achieving a one-state solution, dismantling Israel, and its correlation with anti-Semitism incidents.
The JCPA publishes the academic journal, Jewish Political Studies Review. The journal is published biannually and is "the first and only journal dedicated to the study of Jewish political institutions and behavior, Jewish political thought, and Jewish public affairs."
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs also produces the Daily Alert for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a daily news summary and analysis concerning Israel, Iran, radical Islam, and other regional security issues distributed through email.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has recently published multiple studies relating to Israeli security, international diplomacy, and the status of Jerusalem. As part of the organization's emphasis on making their material public and accessible, all of their major survey studies are digitalized and published on their website.
In the wake of the so-called 'Knife Intifada', the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published a collection edited by in-house scholar Fiamma Nirenstein. The collaborative project features articles by, among others, former Ambassadors Dore Gold, Alan Baker, and Freddy Eytan, as well as Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser and Dan Diker. The overarching theme of the publication focused on the similarity, rather than the misconceived differences, between terrorism in Israel and Europe. Moreover, several articles presented a valuable sociological exploration of Israeli society and its penchant for preparedness, vigilance, and resilience.
Another seminal work published in 2016 by in-house scholar Dan Diker was an in-depth exploration of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement. Entitled BDS Unmasked: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends, Diker traces the roots of the BDS movement arguing that it represents only the most recent incarnation of a historical attempt to boycott Israel. The publication also references foundational members of BDS (e.g. Omar Barghouti) in demonstrating the movement's support for the one-state solution and dismantling of the Israeli state.:6–8 The book also demonstrates a powerful relationship between BDS activities and anti-Semitic incidents on university campuses.:81
Jerusalem also features largely in the think-tank's work. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs scholar, Nadav Shragai, published a historical and legal evaluation of Jerusalem and the city's role in final status peace negotiations entitled . Informed, in part, by recent polling data from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Shragai argues that a majority of Jerusalem's Arabs favour preserving their Israeli citizenship rather than substituting it for a Palestinian one.:Preface More importantly for Shagrai, Jerusalem's Arab community is increasingly being incorporated into the Jewish municipal fabric and represents a valuable dimension to future negotiations over the status of Jerusalem.:Introduction
The JCPA produces a publication entitled "Changing Jewish Communities," which is less focused on global anti-Semitism and, therefore, addresses a wide variety of issues related to global Jewish communities.
The JCPA has organized a publication called "Jewish Environmental Studies," which looks deeply at Jewish environmental studies as a separate and important field and analyzes Jewish environmental thought through references from the Bible and classic Jewish texts.
In addition to their written publications, the JCPA produces numerous videos that analyze a variety of issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East. These include videos created by the center as well as videos of JCPA contributors appearing in various news outlets or conference venues. The videos can be found on the JCPA website or on the JCPA's YouTube page.
The Jerusalem Center founded the Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation. The current director of the ICA is Ambassador Alan Baker. Through this outlet, the JCPA publishes Jerusalem Issue Briefs and Jerusalem Viewpoints. They also publish the twice-yearly Strategic Perspectives, special reports presenting studies on Israeli security and diplomacy topics by the Contributing Editors board of the ICA.
In 2008, JCPA founded the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs in response to growing international anti-Semitism. Directed by Manfred Gerstenfeld, the institute addresses a variety of topics related to Jewish communities around the world.
The institute helps direct the "Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Project" and its associated monthly publication "Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism," both of which attend to global anti-Semitism. More can be learned about these below in the Programs and Initiatives section.
On March 24, 2014, the Jerusalem Center held a conference entitled "Europe and Israel: A New Paradigm." The conference focused on the complicated relationship between Israel and Europe, including topics such as economics and the BDS movement, security and anti-Semitism. The conference was well attended and received a significant amount of press, including articles in The Times of Israel,The Jerusalem Post, J-Wire,Ynetnews, and CBN News.
A core component of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs concerns efforts by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to delegitimize Israel. According to the organization's website, the initiative "is a major multilingual public diplomacy program" which seeks to expose those who undermine Israel's very legitimacy. This programme entails reinforcing the connection between "the Jewish people and their historical homeland including Jerusalem." Many of the institute's scholars, including Dan Diker and Ambassador Alan Baker, have published extensively on subjects pertaining to this initiative. This includes Dan Diker's BDS Unmasked: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends as well as Ambassador Baker's Palestinian Manipulation of the International Community.
Jerusalem's centrality to final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has ensured that it is a subject which garners disproportionate scrutiny. The intermingling of religious, political, and legal dimensions has encouraged the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs to publish extensively on the subject. Spearheaded by Nadav Shragai, the initiative has led to such publications as, Jerusalem: Delusions of Division (2015), Jerusalem: Correcting the International Discourse (2012), and The 'Al-Aksa Is in Danger Libel: The History of a Lie (2012). As outlined in the organization's policy video, the interlocking Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem make division unfeasible. Mindful of Jerusalem's history during the Jordanian occupation when religious freedoms were curtailed, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs believes that the city must remain undivided and under Israeli sovereignty.
This program focuses on security threats posed by Iran to Israel and the West. The program began with a publication entitled "Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide," authored by Dore Gold and Elie Wiesel, among others. The publication was created in response to multiple threats directed toward Israel by the Iranian leader, including a 2006 declaration that "Israel should be wiped off the map." The JCPA continues to monitor security threats posed by Iran in the post-Ahmadinejad era with this program.
Initiated by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, the program focuses on anti-Semitism after the Holocaust and "its origins and lessons, manifestations and mutations." The initiative produces a monthly publication which addresses issues concerning past and presents acts directed against World Jewry and, among other issues, highlights anti-Israel boycotts, the manipulation of Holocaust history, and anti-Semitism emanating from Muslim and Christian communities. The program consists of conferences, seminars, lectures, interviews, and essays. As well, its content is available in English and French. The most recent publication, "Why a New Academic Discipline of Post-Holocaust Studies Should Be Established and What Its Content Should Be", argues that while the Holocaust has been instrumental in shaping modern society, its study is often confined to mass murder while its continued influence today is often neglected.
This program covers issues pertaining to Israel and international law. The goal of the program is to "protect Israel's legal rights in its conflict with the Palestinians, the Arab world, and radical Islam." Topics include the legality of settlements, human rights, and Israeli border issues, among others. Avi Bell directs the program. Additional contributors include Robert Sabel, Ruth Lapidoth, Irit Kohn, Alan Baker, Meir Rosenne, and Justus Weiner.
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