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Saban Center for Middle East Policy is a center within the Brookings Institution focused on the United States' involvement in the Middle East.[1] It was founded in May 2002 and according to its website, “The Saban Center conducts original research and develops innovative programs to promote a better understanding of the policy choices facing American decision makers in the Middle East.”[2]





The center is named for Haim Saban, an American-Israeli media proprietor. Saban, according to the center[1] and its parent organization[3 ], "made a generous initial grant and pledged additional funds to endow the Center." According to a press release from Saban's charitable foundation[4 ], Saban "donated $13 million for the establishment of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution."

Saban, according to the center[1], ascribed his involvement to his "abiding interest in promoting Arab-Israeli peace and preserving American interests in the Middle East" that lead him to fund the center.[1] Saban, in an interview with the New York Times 2004 interview[5], said he was motivated to create the center because he had

"heard from leaders on both sides of the aisle in the United States and leaders in Europe about what [Ariel] Sharon shouldn't do. I've haven't heard one educated suggestion about what he should do."[5]

Saban has stated of himself, “I’m a one issue guy, and my issue is Israel”[6], and was described by the New York Times as a “tireless cheerleader for Israel.”[6].

Saban, according to reports[7], personally recruited Martin Indyk, a former Clinton administration official and AIPAC's former deputy director of research, as the center's Director.


The center was launched in May 2002 "with a special address by His Majesty King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to a select audience of policymakers in Washington, D.C."[1]


Prominent Fellows


John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in their 2006 article [8] of the Israel lobby in the United States, highlighted the creation of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and its Director Martin Indyk.

They write that the Israel lobby "dominates the think tanks which play an important role in shaping public debate as well as actual policy. The Lobby created its own think tank in 1985, when Martin Indyk helped to found WINEP. Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel, claiming instead to provide a 'balanced and realistic' perspective on Middle East issues, it is funded and run by individuals deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda."[8] "The Lobby’s influence extends well beyond WINEP, however," according to Mearsheimer and Walt. "Over the past 25 years, pro-Israel forces have established a commanding presence" at the leading Washington, D.C. foreign policy think tanks. The result was that "[these] think tanks employ few, if any, critics of US support for Israel."[8]

Mearsheimer and Walt then mention the Saban Center and the Brooking Institution as an example[8] :

Take the Brookings Institution. For many years, its senior expert on the Middle East was William B. Quandt, a former National Security Council official with a well-deserved reputation for even-handedness. Today, Brookings’s coverage is conducted through the Saban Center for Middle East Studies, which is financed by Haim Saban, an Israeli-American businessman and ardent Zionist. The centre’s director is the ubiquitous Martin Indyk. What was once a non-partisan policy institute is now part of the pro-Israel chorus."[8]

Mearsheimer and Walt discussing the Center's political slant state:

It is hard to imagine that a research institute funded by Saban and directed by Indyk is going to be anything but pro-Israel. To be sure, the Saban Centre occasionally hosts Arab scholars and exhibits some diversity of opinion. Saban Center fellows – like Indyk himself – often endorse the idea of a two-state settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. But Saban Center publications never question US support for Israel and rarely, if ever, offer significant criticism of key Israeli policies. Moreover, individuals who stray from the Center’s line do not remain for long, as former NSC official Flynt Leverett’s brief tenure there illustrates.[9]

US government indictment

A U.S. government indictment alleges that the Center's Director of Research, Kenneth Pollack, provided information to former AIPAC employees Steve J. Rosen and Keith Weissman during the AIPAC espionage scandal.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "About Us". Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  2. ^ About Us, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
  3. ^ "Brookings Announces New Saban Center for Middle East Policy". Brookings Institution. 2002-02-09. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  4. ^ "Saban Family Foundation Announces $100 Million in Charitable Gifts; Major Gifts Made To Research, Healthcare and Education Organizations In The U.S. and Israel". Find Articles. 2003-06-23. Retrieved 2008-07-27.  
  5. ^ a b Sorkin, Andrew (2004-09-05). "Schlepping to Moguldom". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  6. ^ a b Schlepping to Moguldom, New York Times, 5 September 2004
  7. ^ "Saban Center for Middle East Policy". SourceWatch. 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  8. ^ a b c d e Mearsheimer, John; Stephen Walt (2006-03-23). "The Israel Lobby". The London Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  9. ^ The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt, Allen Lane (UK Edition), p176-7
  10. ^ Bush officials subpoenaed in AIPAC trial, N Guttman, Jerusalem Post, 13 March 2006, retrieved July 2007

External links


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