With the amassing of left-leaning think tanks and public policy centers over the last few decades, a new conservative think tank has opened in Jerusalem that promises to reinforce and lead the mainstream in security thinking, concentrating on the issue of Jerusalem.
“Generally in Israel, the conservative voice is not heard enough, and I wish there would be more conservative-leaning think tanks in Israel, and particularly in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) President Professor Efraim Inbar told Breaking Israel News.
JISS is Israel’s first conservative-leaning think tank. Its goal is to introduce the conservative assessment of Israel’s security needs into the mainstream, replacing the largely liberal and left-leaning dialogue which often overshadows the conversation.
While left-wing Israeli think tanks offer too many concessions to the Palestinians, including conceding to a divided Jerusalem, the new institute will focus on securing Israeli sovereignty over its capital city.
“The fight for Jerusalem has begun in earnest, and we have to be there…These [leftist] institutes are perilously advocating unilateral withdrawals from Judea, Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem,” said Inbar in a Jerusalem Post interview.
He told Breaking Israel News, “Jerusalem has become a more important part of decision making. The National Security Council has moved to Jerusalem, we have now the Ministry of Intelligence and The Ministry of Strategic Affairs in Jerusalem, with a growing number of specialists in national security and foreign affairs. The National Defense College is also moving to Jerusalem soon. And they all need to interact with conservative thinking.”
In addition, Inbar plans on nurturing Christian Zionist support in the future in hopes of strengthening the natural alliance. “We are very interested in having continuous dialogue with Christian Zionists because we understand that Christians have a soft spot for Jerusalem, which is important to their religious and cultural tradition. And we are very interested in coexistence with this community here, and of course to develop understanding in the Christian community abroad that Israel is a holy power that is able to maintain freedom of religion,” he told Breaking Israel News.
“Personally I have good relationship with Christian Zionists in Israel, going to the events of the Christian Embassy here, and being responsive to requests for interviews by their networks. We just started and intend to intensify our contact with Christian Zionists,” he said.
The JISS staff is largely composed of former employees of Bar-Ilan’s Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. Vice Presidents of the center include Dr. Eran Lerman, a former deputy head at the National Security Council, and David Weinberg, who served as BESA’s spokesperson.
On November 6, the JISS staff held a conference marking the launching of the institute, entitled “The Struggle for United Jerusalem”, in which Israeli sovereignty and the critical strategic importance of Jerusalem was discussed.
Although the Institute was just recently launched, JISS has already amassed a number of research studies to date that emphasize the strategic, historical, and religious importance of Jerusalem.
One study by Dr. Eran Lerman maintains that Israel’s control over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is agreeable to many Arab nations and is helpful for regional stability.
Another study by Dr. David Koren, Advisor on Eastern Jerusalem Affairs to the Mayor of Jerusalem, analyzes East Jerusalemites’ positions on education and integrating into Israel, and came up with somewhat surprising results: that while “Arabs in East Jerusalem are becoming radicalized and are moving to Hamas…the majority is more interested in Israelization,” Inbar told Breaking Israel News.
Unlike other think tanks, the new institute plans to focus on Israel’s policy makers and the Israeli decision-making process rather than “educating the world about our issues,” as Inbar stated in the Jerusalem Post, where he said that he hopes the institute will influence the mainstream towards a more conservative security ideology.
Looking towards the future, Inbar strives to “keep Jerusalem as a flourishing city in terms of culture, high tech, economic terms” through JISS’s work.
When asked from where his passion for securing the future of Jerusalem comes, he concluded, “I am a resident of Jerusalem, I feel a privilege living in the city, I am proud that my children were born here. I am elated looking around and seeing the beauty of Jerusalem, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And of course, it is the capital of the State of Israel.”