Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

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The Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), is an Israeli think tank [1] that seeks to advance a "realist, conservative, Zionist agenda in the search for security and peace for Israel." [2] The center's mission is to contribute to promoting peace and security in the Middle East, through policy-oriented researches on national security in the Middle East. It is located near the Political Science department within Bar-Ilan University. The center was founded by Thomas Hecht, a Jewish-Canadian Leader, and was dedicated to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat who signed the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty, the first peace agreement ever signed between Israel and any other Arab country. According to Haaretz, BESA is traditionally regarded as a primarily right-wing organization that usually espouses pro-military views.[3] BESA is currently led by Professor Efraim Inbar.

About the BESA Center[edit]

Professor Efraim Inbar, Director of The Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies is described by The Forward as a "right-leaning academic."[4] Inbar describes the center's mission as follows: "Over the years, we have been the first to successfully place on the public agenda issues such as the problematic aspects of Palestinian statehood, the danger of Arab chemical and biological weapons and missile stocks, Israel’s relations with key countries such as Turkey and India, and the abuse of international institutions in the attempt to delegitimize Israel. Today, the Center leads an attempt to introduce creative thinking about alternatives to the entrenched two-state paradigm in Israeli-Palestinian peace diplomacy, and an initiative to nourish U.S.-Israeli relations."[5]

The Center is staffed with strategic thinkers, academic experts and "military men."[6] BESA Center publications and policy recommendations are directed at senior Israeli decision-makers in military and civilian life, the defense and foreign affairs establishments in Israel and abroad, the diplomatic corps, the press, the academic community, leaders of Jewish communities around the world, and the educated public. The center sponsors conferences, lectures, and briefings for international and local audiences, bringing together leading experts from academia and public life, from Israel and abroad. The center has developed cooperative relations with leading strategic research institutes throughout the world, from Ankara to Washington and from London to Seoul. The Center conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.

BESA is one of approximately 35 think tanks in Israel, which, according to Hannah Elka Meyers, typically have little impact on politics or policymaking despite their numbers. She notes in her study that even the heads of Israeli think tanks concede their lack of impact on politics, and quotes Inbar as saying, "We should be modest in our evaluation of the impact of think tanks." Issues that keep Israeli think tanks from being as influential as those in the U.S. include their more academic focus, lack of funding, the nation's political structure, and Israeli citizens' attitudes about government. While BESA staff includes numerous "military men," Meyers notes that the IDF has similar, if not independent research and strategy facilities but with access to classified information.[7]

At a meeting of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), BESA's Director lamented the current lack of Zionist academics and claimed that Bar-Ilan University is "the only Zionist university left in Israel.” When contacted by Haaretz regarding the claim, Inbar said Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University were “not Zionist.” “There are many Bolshevik post-Zionists at these universities, who pack their faculties with similar-minded lecturers. The Israeli universities are overflowing with post-Modernists who undermine not only Zionism but academic truth itself.” Inbar added that while there are Zionist academics on some of the social studies faculties, they are in the minority. “An evil wind is emanating from these places,” he asserted.[8]

Areas of Study[edit]

  1. Israeli strategic thought process
  2. The Regional deterrence and security
  3. Strategic alternatives within the Peace Process
  4. Interior and foreign policy of the Palestinian Authority
  5. Israeli Public opinion on national security
  6. Israel–United States relations
  7. Lower intensity of Terror and violence
  8. Israeli–Turkish strategic relations
  9. Security in the East to the Mediterranean Sea region
  10. Water sources in the Middle East
  11. WMD Proliferation
  12. Arms Control in the Middle East
  13. Military Industries
  14. IDF in the future
  15. Israel- Asia relations



  1. ^ " Hannah Elka Meyers 'Does Israel need Think Tanks' Middle East Quarterly Winter 2009, pp. 37-46"
  2. ^ "American Friends of Bar-Ilan University: Strengthening Jewish and Zionist Values 'The BESA Center Ranked as One of the Three Top Middle East Think Tanks'"
  3. ^ "Benn, Aluf 'Head of right-wing think tank: Settlements must be evacuated; Prof. Efraim Inbar calls for repartition of Israel, with Egypt resuming control of the Gaza Strip.' (27 Jan 2009) Haaretz"
  4. ^ "Nathan Jeffray '‘Two-State Solution’ Faces a Patchwork of Challenges' The Jewish Daily Forward (24 Feb 2010)"
  5. ^ "American Friends of Bar-Ilan University: Strengthening Jewish and Zionist Values 'The BESA Center Ranked as One of the Three Top Middle East Think Tanks'"
  6. ^ "BESA profile 2003"
  7. ^ " Hannah Elka Meyers 'Does Israel need Think Tanks' Middle East Quarterly Winter 2009, pp. 37-46"
  8. ^ "Shalev, Chemi 'Top professor: Bar-Ilan University 'only Zionist' institution in Israel; Efraim Inbar says Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University house many 'Bolshevik post-Zionists'; says, 'an evil wind is emanating from these places. Haaretz (21 Nov 2011)"

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°4′4″N 34°50′33″E / 32.06778°N 34.84250°E / 32.06778; 34.84250