Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
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The Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center) is a conservative Israeli think tank conducting policy-relevant research on Middle Eastern and global strategic affairs, particularly as they relate to the national security and foreign policy of Israel and regional peace and stability. 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 at the Social Sciences Faculty of Bar-Ilan University. The center was founded by Thomas Hecht, a Canadian Jewish leader, and was dedicated to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, who signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, the first peace agreement ever signed between Israel and an Arab country.
About the BESA Center
BESA according to BESA
Prof Efraim 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."
The Center is staffed with strategic thinkers, academic experts and "military men." 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.
According to Haaretz, BESA is traditionally regarded as a mostly right-wing organization that usually espouses pro-military views. In 2009, Inbar's paper "The Rise and Fall of the 'Two States for Two Peoples' Paradigm" said the best solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict would be to repartition the country with Egypt governing Gaza, Jordan governing the West Bank, and Israel withdrawing from isolated settlements.
Impact and status
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.
In the University of Pennsylvania's 2014 Global Go To Think Tanks Report, the center was ranked the ninth best think thank in the Middle East and North Africa, behind the Carnegie Middle East Center (Lebanon), ACPSS (Egypt), Brookings (Qatar), EDAM (Turkey), INSS (Israel), Al Jazeera (AJCS) (Qatar), TESEV (Turkey), and GRC (Saudi Arabia).
Areas of Study
- Israeli strategic thought process
- The Regional deterrence and security
- Strategic alternatives within the Peace Process
- Interior and foreign policy of the Palestinian Authority
- Israeli Public opinion on national security
- Israel–United States relations
- Lower intensity of Terror and violence
- Israeli–Turkish strategic relations
- Security in the East to the Mediterranean Sea region
- Water sources in the Middle East
- WMD Proliferation
- Arms Control in the Middle East
- Military Industries
- IDF in the future
- Israel- Asia relations
- "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'"http://www.afbiu.org/about-afbiu/besa-center-top-ranked
- "BESA profile 2003" http://davidmweinberg.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Begin-Sadat-Center-for-Strategic-Studies-Corporate-Profile-2003.pdf
- "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" http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/head-of-right-wing-think-tank-settlements-must-be-evacuated-1.268922
- " Hannah Elka Meyers 'Does Israel need Think Tanks' Middle East Quarterly Winter 2009, pp. 37-46"http://www.meforum.org/2061/does-israel-need-think-tanks
- "The 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index". University of Pennsylvania. 2015-02-04. Retrieved 2015-02-14.