Besides newspapers and translation services, there are a number of reputable think tanks and outstanding research institutes that focus on the economics, politics, and international relations of Israel and, more broadly, the Middle East.
These institutes employ regular staff, and hire temporary researchers and fellows. Some are independent, and others have formal or informal links to universities. Like newspapers, some reflect particular philosophical or ideological outlooks. Some have free subscription services to their regular publications. Each offers short and long-form analytical pieces for policy makers or interested observers. Many are accessible on smartphones, and some have apps connected to them. Each of them publishes valuable and enlightening publications that pertain to Israel and the Middle East, the US-Israeli relationship, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and American engagement in the region. There are five outstanding institutes/think tanks in terms of reputation, thoroughness, quality, and quantity of output. These are: The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, The Institute for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and the aforementioned Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The materials and publications from these entities are usually free, easily down-loadable, searchable, and usually in pdf formats. Their websites are user friendly, arranged by author and topic of research, country, or area of inquiry. Importantly, most of their respective publications, conference proceedings, and symposia are archived and easily accessible online. They each have subscription services. If one likes the materials produced by these entities, enrolled subscriptions are suggested. On some regular basis, each of these entities sponsor regular conferences, lectures, and symposia. Their respective websites provide announcements about these public events, sometimes with live streaming and often with published summaries of important speeches and addresses.
Alliance Center for Iranian Studies (ACIS) is an interdisciplinary research center focusing on the promotion of knowledge and understanding of Iran. The Center was established in November 2005 as the first of its kind in Israel, and officially inaugurated in 2006 as The Center for Iranian Studies (CIS) at Tel Aviv University (TAU) under the auspices of the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities. Today, it is the largest center for Iranian studies in the Middle East (outside of Iran).
Through innovative research, conferences, colloquia and lectures by local and visiting scholars, the ACIS promotes exchanges across a variety of disciplines between scholars who focus on various aspects of Iranian studies, including Iran’s history, society and religion as well as its role in the region and in the world.
The ACIS also promotes research of Iranian Jewry under the auspices of the Dr. Habib Levy Program. In its various activities, the Center seeks to provide researchers, students and the general public with a better understanding of the complex cultural and historical processes characterizing Iran and Iranian Jews.
The American Jewish Committee Archives include articles from the annually published American Jewish Yearbook provide succinct summaries of important topics relating to Zionism and Israel.
The American Presidency Project provides valuable first-hand quotations of positions voiced in speeches, statements and remarks of American presidents, as well as people in an administration.
The AVI CHAI Foundation is a private educational foundation that focuses on the perpetuation of the Jewish people, Judaism, and the centrality of the State of Israel to the Jewish people. If was founded and endowed by Zalman C. Bernstein. It supports a myriad of institutions, organizations and projects all connected to the continuity of the Jewish people.
The Begin Center includes a comprehensive timeline of Begin’s life, numerous media banks, articles written both by Begin himself and others about him, as well as general information about the Begin Heritage Center, Museum and Foundation. Material may be found in French, English, Russian, Spanish and Hebrew. One of the site’s strongest features is its YouTube channel, housing many historic and contemporary video clips from Israel about Begin and other issues.e.
The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies is affiliated with Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv. The research and publications of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies reflect national security and foreign policy issues affecting Israel. Center researchers produce regular analyses, providing excellent context to contemporary issues. Their numerous publications are in English and Hebrew with access online to a fine archive of analyses (“Perspective Papers”) that go back to January 2005. The website houses several other excellent research items; it conducts regular seminars on issues of immediate interest, often summarized on the website.
Housing the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center, Beit Ha’tfutsot offers visitors and researchers access to databases of thousands of genealogies of Jewish families from all over the world. According to their website, “Over 5 million individuals have already been recorded in the continuously expanding database. Visitors from all backgrounds can explore their ancestry, record and preserve their own family trees for future generations…” Providing a wealth of information about the facility and its databases, the website provides all necessary materials and forms for an individual to both research and submit information about Jewish genealogy from all corners of the globe. For those who are either living in or visiting Israel, they maintain an updated listing of very worthwhile exhibitions and events held at their Tel Aviv University facility. Traveling to Israel almost requires a visit to the Museum and a review of its holdings.
The Ben Gurion Archives focus primarily on Ben-Gurion’s estimable contributions to the state. There are a number of other collections located at the archives including those of Abba Hillel Silver and Hillel Kook. The website itself is a search portal for what resides in the archives, and it is in Hebrew.
BICOM provides “daily, expert news summary and analysis of events in Israel…, taking British journalists and opinion formers to Israel and the Palestinian territories…, organizing events and seminars in the UK…, and bringing analysts, journalists and politicians from the region to Britain…” BICOM’s website contains useful features, including easy to digest bulleted analyses of current events as well as a regularly updated lists of pertinent news articles. Their free podcasts, available on the site, are likewise informative with broad coverage of topics relating to Israel and the Middle East.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a Washington based independent think-tank that publishes cutting analyses on all international topics, with frequent pieces related to political reform in the Middle East, Islam in politics, and other policy related issues connected to the Middle East. Its home page is particularly user-friendly. Monthly contributions from its “Arab Reform Bulletin” are particularly worthwhile.
The Central Zionist Archives demonstrates the depth of inquiry and analyses that Zionist specialists provided to one another and to the outside world in making the Zionist case.
The Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University publishes an occasional paper series and other publications where Israel’s domestic and foreign policy issues are regularly and thoroughly discussed, as well as broader contemporary Middle Eastern issues that affect concern American, European, and regional interests. Their materials are archived and easily accessible.
The Daniel Elazar Online Library – Professor Daniel J. Elazar (1934-1999) was a leading political scientist and specialist in the study of federalism, political culture, the Jewish political tradition, Israel and the world Jewish community. As founder and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 1976, he headed one of the first independent Jewish “think tanks” concerned with analyzing and solving the key problems facing Israel and world Jewry. He was a prolific writer; most notable among them was a four volume study of the Covenant Tradition in Politics, as well as Community and Polity, The Jewish Polity, and People and Polity. As no other scholar has done, Elazar’s writings analyzed, the origins and development of Jewish political culture and how Jewish communal organizations were critical in preserving Jewish identity before and after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD. Elazar also wrote extensively on Israel-Diaspora relations.
The Moshe Dayan Center of Tel Aviv University is an interdisciplinary research center devoted to the study of the modern history and contemporary affairs of the Middle East and Africa. The Center does not take positions or recommend policies. Through research, publications, conferences, documentary collections, and public service, it seeks to inform civil society and promote dialogue on the complexities of the ever-changing Middle East. The analyses that the Dayan Center publishes are of the highest caliber of excellence and intellectual rigor of any place in the world! As noted above, The Dayan Center also provides a weekly digest, Middle East News Brief, where it publishes half a dozen newspaper articles from all over the region that reflect the past week’s events. Also find at the Dayan Center’s website, its monthly publication in Hebrew and English, Iqtisadi. It is a monthly e-newsletter providing subscribers with economic analysis of key players and events affecting the marketplaces and societies of the Middle East.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), founded in 1955, is comprised of more than 80 world renowned scholars, military and political figures, and business people. According to their site, they “conduct research on pressing issues— the war on terrorism, developments in the Middle East, nuclear proliferation, relations with China, Russia, and Japan— and long-term questions, such as the roles of religion and ethnicity in international politics, or the nature of Western identity and its implications for the U.S. and the Atlantic Alliance.” Of particular value is their Butcher History Institute “Teaching about the Middle East.” Their site enables public and private school teachers to view video presentations of contemporary topics all with historical perspective and context. The site contains linked articles associated with those teaching presentations. In addition, their easy-to-navigate website houses the institute’s quarterly journal, Orbis, as well as regularly updated articles, E-books and essays written by FPRI’s staff and others.
The time periods of theonline material include 1947, 1948, 1949, the 1973 war and the 1974-1976 time frames. Material for 1977 -1980 is available on a limited and selective basis. All the available FRUS volumes are in print and may be available at local libraries, including those dealing with the Near East going back to the 1930s.
Across the globe, there are dozens of other think-tanks and research institutes that do not focus exclusively on the Middle East or Israel per say, or only have limited publication series where Israel or the Middle Eastern region or its origins are the main foci. Many have programs, fellows, or researchers that publish position papers and research analysis that pertain to the Middle East and Israel. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies focuses on contemporary Middle Eastern issues, terrorism, the UN, Energy, and Human Rights.
Situated on the University of Maryland campus as an academic center, The Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies is dedicated to study and research on Israel in all its variety. It also presents programs of political, cultural, and general interest relating to modern Israel. In addition to guiding students to a minor in Israel Studies at Maryland, its home page opens to a publications and research section that includes valuable thought pieces about contemporary Israel.
According to their website, “The Museum’s ability to preserve the memory of the Holocaust relies on its collections, which include photographs; artifacts; films; music; archival documentation; books; testimonies from Holocaust survivors, perpetrators, and eyewitnesses; and more… The online Collections Search provides detailed descriptions of the Museum’s diverse collections…” Many sources connect the destruction of European Jewry with Palestine of the period. While the majority of resources housed by USHMM are only available on location at their D.C. campus, and not digitally, one can search their collections as well as access publications, information about events and lectures as well as a multitude of other online resources about the Holocaust, combatting anti-Semitism and genocide around the world.
The Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya is a research institute and think-tank dedicated to developing innovative public policy solutions to international terrorism. The Policy Institute applies an integrated, solutions-oriented approach built on a foundation of real world and practical experience.
The other is Institut français des relations internationales. IFRI is the principal institution for independent research and debate in France dedicated to the analysis of international questions and global governance. IFRI’s policy-oriented research is useful for political and economic decision-makers as well as academics, opinion leaders, general learners, and civil society representatives. IFRI publishes materials on the EU, EU-Mediterranean Policy, EU-Middle East issues, and reprints excellent articles on Israel and the Middle East from other notable think-tanks. It has an English language site.
Containing a wealth of articles, analyses and information, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conducts research in the multiplicity of fields that comprise security studies and impact on strategic issues relating to Israel’s national security. Basic research complements analysis of issues of the day. The practical application of INSS research takes the form of ‘out of the box’ thinking and the design of policy options for decision makers in government, the defense establishment, the strategic community, and the private sector. Located in Ramat Aviv, next to Tel Aviv University, INSS experts and researchers include academics, scholars, former diplomats and civil servants providing incisive and thoughtful analyses of events in Israel and in the region and beyond that impact Israeli security and politics. Their quarterly publication, Strategic Assessment and more frequent INSS Insight, are of particular values to anyone interested in top-of-the line and up-to-date about Israeli domestic and foreign policy matters.
In terms of understanding and following domestic political issues in Israel, there is nothing to equal the The Israel Democracy Institute. It is a non-partisan, Jerusalem-based “Think-and-Do Tank” that devises ways to strengthen the moral and structural foundations of Israeli democracy. Its fellows and programs are of the highest quality; they focus on political reform, national security, religion and state, and constitutional law. Established in 1991, IDI supports Israel’s elected officials, civil servants, and opinion leaders as a resource for policy makers as well as a forum for ideas. The staff and researchers at IDI work diligently to promote the values and norms appropriate for Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Founded in 2012 as an independent, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC, the Israel Institute supports scholarship, an array of fellowships aimed at research and exchanges to build a multi-faceted field of Israel Studies. The Institute seeks to support education and scholarship aimed at understanding the diversity and complexity of contemporary Israel. The website provides numerous college course syllabi in PDF format, dealing with Israel domestic and foreign. These syllabi are free to download.
Established in 1949,ISA’s operation is regulated by the Archives Law of 1955. The archives have gathered historical records (of all types) of state institutions, keeping them for posterity, and making them available to the public in accordance with viewing regulations. ISA regularly releases documents of interest and publishes “Documents on the Foreign Policy of Israel” series, commemorative volumes in memory of Israel’s late presidents and prime ministers, private archives, selections of documents dealing with a particular topic such German reparations, the Suez War, Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, other literature and bibliographies of Israel’s Government. ISA houses a variety of audio-visual records, including films documenting events from the time of the British Mandate onwards, such as the trial of Adolf Eichmann, audio recordings and video tapes with testimonies of central figures in Israel; audio recordings of speeches, Knesset sessions, ceremonies and many other events, as well as a collection of some 100,000 photographs.
Most of the post-1948 material is in Hebrew but a considerable portion of the earlier material, and some of the documents from the earlier years of Israel, are in English and other foreign languages. Notice should be taken that much of the material listed on the site is not digitized and not a great deal in English. Hence, do not expect to find a trove of material to download or to use on line, but there are some items that are declassified, accessible, and worth browsing.
Residing in the archives are the originals of Israel’s fundamental documents of the State of Israel, (foremost of which is the Declaration of Independence), the Law of Return, the laws of the state and international agreements and treaties which the state has signed over the years, such as the Armistice Agreements with the Arab states, the peace treaties with Egypt and with Jordan, the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, the “Oslo Accords” and the exchange of letters with the PLO, and more.
The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics Includes categories ranging from Society and Population, Household and Families, Labor and Wages, Israel’s Economy, Industries, Environment, Government and Local Authorities, and current economic indicators. A good portion of the information may be found in English, though the majority of material is in Hebrew. Most of the data cited in tables, reports, and maps covers the last five or ten years, but not much referenced to earlier decades. The site includes a valuable section titled, “Publications and Products.”
Founded in 1965 and located in Rome, the Istituto Affari Internazionali’s main objective is to promote understanding of the problems of international politics through studies, research, meetings, and publications. Its home page states that its broad mission is to increase the opportunities of all countries to move in the direction of supranational organization, democratic freedom, and social justice. In addition to conducting conferences, researchers publish several times a week analyses of European matters and on topics that pertain to the greater Mediterranean area.
The aims of the Jabotinsky Institute, founded over 70 years ago, are to foster and disseminate the legacy of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky and the National Movement, and to encourage scholarly research on these subjects. The Institute’s main components are the Jabotinsky Museum and the Archives of the Jabotinsky Movement, both of which showcase the movement’s history, factions, institutions and prominent personalities. The archive contains 600 dossiers of testimony, 1300 audio tapes of speeches, broadcasts, 1150 newspapers and periodicals, posters, stamps and other items connected to the History of Zionism, Eretz Yisrael, the Revisionist Movement, the underground movements during the Mandate, and material about Betar in Eastern Europe and Eretz Yisrael. From the website, one one can search the archive in English and Hebrew, with vast amounts of material in European languages, and recall materials to undertake on-line research.
Founded in 1976, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is an interdisciplinary and independent non-profit think-tank that publishes high quality analytic pieces on issues relating to Israel and the Jewish world. Researchers, fellows, and contributors associated with JCPA write on international law, Israeli security, Jerusalem, Middle East diplomacy, US-Middle East policy, European-Middle East policy, Iran, and radical Islam. Notably, the JCPA website provides access to the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs, which houses excellent assessments of Jewish communities world-wide and anti-Semitism as practiced in its varied overt and covert ways. JCPA houses a compilation, “Israel at War: Primary Sources,” covering the War of Independence to the 2012 Gaza War, http://jcpa.org/publicati
The Jewish Policy Center covers a broad range of Middle Eastern regional topics. It publishes an excellent quarterly, inFocus, each dedicated to a specific theme, for which subscriptions are available. On the website home pages of the previous three think-tanks, one may find excellent analyses of contemporary interest.
Washington based and founded in 1976, JINSA advocates on behalf of a strong U.S. military, a robust national security policy, and a strong U.S. security relationship with Israel and other like-minded democracies. It has a robust website, publications covering Middle East security issues and US Foreign policy toward the region. It has a p staff of fellows and offers programs connected to the US military.
Established after WWI, The League of Nations had administrative oversight over Palestine and other areas made free by the German and Turkish defeat in WWI. For Palestine, the annual reports of how Palestine was governed as the Zionists slowly built their national home are instructive for their insights and depth.
According their website, “[LBI’s] 80,000-volume library and extensive archival and art collections represent the most significant repository of primary source material and scholarship on the Jewish communities of Central Europe over the past five centuries. German-speaking Jews had a history marked by individual as well as collective accomplishments and played a significant role in shaping art, science, business, and political developments… LBI is committed to preserving this legacy and has digitized over 3.5 million pages of documents from its collections—from rare renaissance books to the personal correspondence of luminaries and ordinary people alike, to community histories and official documents.” Plentiful sources on German-Speaking Jews connection to Zionism and immigration to Palestine. With many collections available digitally, LBI’s website can be a useful and fun tool for a variety of purposes and users.
Mitvim is based in Ramat Gan, Israel. Established in May 2011, Mitvim offers a range of articles and papers dealing with Israeli foreign policy, security issues and a monthly report on US-Middle East relations. Some of it publications focus on the Israel-Arab peace process.
The Center’s website, which is available in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, houses videos about the center’s projects, a small collection of Peres’ speeches, videos, and numerous in-depth studies focusing on enhancement of the two core relationships. All materials are free and the center’s archive accessible at its Tel Aviv facility.
Pew Research Global Attitudes Project – The Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project conducts public opinion surveys around the world on a broad array of subjects ranging from people’s assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. Over 300,000 interviews in 59 countries have been conducted as part of the project’s work. The project is directed by Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” in Washington, DC, that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The surveys provided are organized by topic, with the Middle East and North Africa providing insightful public opinion snapshots of Americans and the region’s inhabitants. Care should be taken to put all poll results into a context of events happening at that moment that might influence otherwise longer term trends.
The Reut Institute undertakes unique research. In a non-partisan manner, Reut focuses on issues that pertain to the working and future of Israel, combating assaults on Israel’s legitimacy, national security, the Palestinian issue, Israel’s economy, and importantly, the relationship of Israel to the Jewish world. It creates task forces that thoroughly investigate a topic and publishes assessments and reports. Established in 2004 by Gidi Grinstein, its underlying premise is to provide cutting-edge aimed at assuring that 21st Century Zionism will contain the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in a secure, prosperous, and democratic state. Reut sees its research as a positive catalyst for innovative change in assuring its objectives.
The Saban Center at The Brookings Institution has the highest of reputations for publishing quality articles, books, and shorter pieces on the Middle East, US foreign policy toward the region, and sometimes on matters relating to Israel or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Located in Jerusalem The Shalom Hartman Institute’s programs and faculty focus on engaging and redefining conversations about Judaism, religious pluralism Israeli democracy, diaspora-Israel relations, and other faith communities.
Two among many stand out as the best of the European think-tanks and institutes that include major publications on the Middle East and Israel. One is the Berlin based, highly prestigious fifty year-old think-tank, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik. It has researchers that focus on German and European policy toward the Middle East and North Africa and frequently produce items that pertain to Israel, the region, and Europe—but not all of its publications can be found in English.
Established in 1992 at Tel Aviv University, The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace and Research promotes systematic research on issues connected with peacemaking and conflict resolution. It conducts periodic (mostly monthly) surveys that gauge trends in Israeli public opinion, keeps a database on Israeli Palestinian and Israeli Arab cooperation, and encourages teaching, research, and intellectual collaboration on peacemaking conflict resolution. Its monthly peace index is published in collaboration with the Jerusalem based Israel Democracy Institute.
The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan, socioeconomic research institute based in Jerusalem. The Center conducts quality, impartial research on socioeconomic conditions in Israel, and develops innovative, equitable and practical options for macro public policies that advance the well-being of Israelis. According to its website, The Center strives to influence public policy through direct communications with policy makers and by enriching the public debate that accompanies the decision making process. One of the Center’s formidable annual publication Israel:Social-Economic Review. The Center publishes short papers on health, labor studies, social welfare, economics, education and other topics. For example it has a top flight analyses “The Economic Background of the Social Protest of Summer 2011.” Almost all of its data are available in English.
Listening to expert testimony about all issues foreign and domestic is a major source for congressional policy orientation.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) is a public educational foundation dedicated to scholarly research and informed debate on US interests in the Middle East. Under the guidance of a distinguished and bipartisan Board of Advisors, the Institute seeks to bring scholarship to bear on the making of US policy in this vital region of the world. Drawing on the research of its scholars and the experience of policy practitioners, the Institute promotes an American engagement in the Middle East committed to strengthening alliances, nurturing friendships, and promoting security, peace, prosperity, and democracy for the people of the region. WINEP could easily be the most outstanding institute worldwide (with a few exceptions) for its cogent and timely analyses of the Middle East and US policy toward it. There is a new analysis of a current topic issued almost daily, with lengthy pieces published periodically as well. This is a must see.
The Middle East Program of the Wilson Center pays special attention to current affairs, gender issues, Iran, Islam, democracy, and civil society, youth, civil society institutions, Islam, and the changes at hand in the Middle East today. It sponsors programs, conferences, lectures, and symposiums in Washington, and has affiliated with it a scholars program. Finally it has a p but excellent series of publications written by scholars and analysts from across the globe.
An online portal to over 23,000,000 manuscripts, letters, pieces of music, art and many other historical documents and records, the YIVO Institute’s website is a valuable tool for students, researchers and curious learners alike. Documents and sources of European Jewish life and thought before, during, and after the evolution of Zionism abound. According to their website, “The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded by scholars and intellectuals in Vilna, Poland, in 1925 to document and study Jewish life in all its aspects: language, history, religion, folkways, and material culture. YIVO had a special focus on the Jews of Eastern Europe, but collected books, manuscripts and other artifacts from Jewish communities around the world.” Their well organized, English language website is easy to navigate and houses searchable libraries and archives as well as comprehensive explanations of how to use the online collections.