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Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations has published an Arabic academic paper entitled “The Influence of Think Tanks and Their Role in the Decision-Making of the Zionist Settler-Colonial System,” by Dr. Ashraf Bader.

In this paper, Badr aims to analyze the influence of think tanks on decision-making in Israel, discuss their concepts, and monitor their direct and indirect impact by analyzing the content of their websites.

The paper is divided into five sections and a conclusion. First, he analyzes the theory behind establishing think tanks, which aim to provide rulers with knowledge necessary to practice effective governance and population management (bio-power). He also explains the think tanks concept, defines them, and explains their types, tasks and means of marketing their ideas. Second section discusses the decision-making mechanism in Israel, explaining the shift from the “functional model” to the “security network” model, which contributed to strengthening the role of think tanks in the decision-making process. However, this role is governed by several factors, including the type of center and its field of work. The third section explores the types, patterns, funding, field of interest and science, influence and affiliations of the centers. Fourth section discusses the Israeli government interest in spending on scientific research and the allocation of special budgets for this purpose. For example, the “national” expenditure on civilian research and development (R&D) in 2020 amounted to 76.2 billion shekels (about $23 billion), 5.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the highest globally. The Israeli government has allocated part of the R&D budget to fund research in Israeli universities, most of which funded research in natural sciences. In 2019, funding of university research amounted to 2.58 billion shekels (about $724 million). In the fifth section, Badr monitored the direct and indirect impact and influence of the Israeli think tanks on decision-making.

The importance of this paper lies in the fact that it discusses the direct and indirect influence of think tanks on Israeli decision-making, despite the complexity of this process and the multiplicity of players and influencers. The paper monitored eight areas that are influenced by research centers, namely: The negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis and the political solution related to the “peace” process; promoting a culture of “coexistence” between Palestinians and Israelis by paving the way for a shared life and lasting “peace” among all citizens and changing stereotypes and supporting cultural dialogue; and the normalization of relations with Arab countries, hosting many Arab normalizers and engaging them in lectures and seminars on the importance of normalization and building “peace” relations. In addition, think tanks exercise censorship, by tracking publications and academic activities of university professors, and defaming any activity that criticizes the practices of the Israeli government. Some research centers also contribute to the preparation of “bills” that are presented to the Knesset, where some of them have become approved laws; the adoption of liberal economic policies, free-market concept and the disposal of the legacy of socialist economic thought; and the tightening of control over Jerusalem, as some centers recommend to the Israeli authorities the tools that would strengthen their control over Jerusalem and its Palestinian population. For example, the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research (JIPR) was chosen by the Israeli government to take part in the government’s Jubilee Plan for the economic development of Jerusalem by providing a research base for its formation and evaluation research for the implementation of the proposal. This is a five-year process with a budget of 850 million Shekels (about $238 million). Also, following a research project regarding the economic potential, the urban advantages, and the concrete tools for strengthening Jerusalem as an active and successful governmental city, the JIPR recommendation was adopted by The Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA). Another contribution is putting policies and plans in several areas, including: security, anti-Semitism, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The study also monitored five areas that think tanks affect indirectly, namely: Providing human capital and young leaders trained in analysis, assessment of positions, and thinking of policy alternatives; ideological promotion by giving any policy or direction a “scientific” character that would win the support of broad segments of Israeli society, where education and curricula would be used also to promote these ideologies; propaganda that supports the Israeli narrative; orientalism and intellectual invasion, especially of Arab countries, while studying their strengths and weaknesses; and providing decision makers with data base.

The paper concluded that the shift of the Israeli political system, the military shift from the “functional model” to the “security network” model, and the adoption of decision makers reason and rationality as a primary source of knowledge, contributed to the increase of Israel’s interest in establishing think tanks and research centers. These centers have played active roles in anticipating and planning the future, and developing solutions, proposals and scenarios to face the dilemmas facing decision makers. Thus, they are considered an important source of strength to Israel and its control system.

Click here to download:

>> Academic Paper: The Influence of Think Tanks and Their Role in the Decision-Making of the Zionist Settler-Colonial System (Arabic) (43 pages, 2.7 MB)

By: Dr. Ashraf Bader. (Exclusively for al-Zaytouna Centre).

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 1/3/2023

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