Spotlight on the “Kohelet Policy Forum”: How a Far-Right-Wing, U.S.-Funded Israeli Think Tank is Working to Shape Policy & Law in Both the US & Israel
Apr 4 2023
The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) & Jewish Currents invite you to:
Spotlight on the “Kohelet Policy Forum”:
How a Far-Right-Wing, U.S.-Funded Israeli Think Tank is Working to Shape Policy & Law in Both the US & Israel
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
featuring Ran Cohen (Democratic Bloc), Yousef Munayyer (Arab Center DC) & Eran Nissan (Mehazkim), and Lara Friedman (FMEP); moderated by Sarah Anne Minkin (FMEP)
See below for resources shared during the webinar
As Israel’s far-right has gained political influence and momentum, including with respect to the current government’s “judicial reform” plans, the outsized impact of the Kohelet Policy Forum – a formerly low-profile, high-impact Israeli think-tank – has increasingly been making headlines. These include the New York Times (“Who’s Behind the Judicial Overhaul Now Dividing Israel? Two New Yorkers”), Haaretz (The Kohelet Tentacles: Inside the Web Surrounding the Right-wing Think Tank).
Two key parts of this story — insufficiently understood and examined by the media — are the ties between Kohelet and right-wing fellow travelers and funders in the U.S., and their years-long efforts to influence policy and law not only in Israel, but in the United States, both at the state- and federal-level.
Join FMEP & Jewish Currents for a conversation among experts who have been researching and documenting the activities and funding of the Kohelet Policy Forum including its transnational connections and impact of its work in both the U.S. and Israel/Palestine.
Ran Cohen is a media, campaign, and strategy consultant as well as a social and political activist. He is the founder of the Democratic Bloc and former director of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. He tweets at @Cohen_Ran.
Yousef Munayyer, PhD, is a non-resident Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC (ACW). He writes on the Arab-Israeli conflict and is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Palestine Studies. Some of his published articles can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, Journal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Policy, and others. Dr. Munayyer holds a PhD in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Maryland. He tweets at @YousefMunayyer.
Eran Nissan is the CEO of Mehazkim. Prior to joining Mehazkim, Eran headed the Education and Advocacy Department at ‘Peace Now’. Eran holds a B.A. in Political Science & Philosophy from Ben-Gurion University and an M.A. in Emergency and Disaster Management from Tel Aviv University. Eran is a certified dog trainer, and volunteers at Magen David-Adom as an EMT and an ambulance driver. He tweets at @eran_nissan.
Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). She is a leading authority on the Middle East, with particular expertise on U.S. foreign policy in the region, on Israel/Palestine, and on the way Middle East and Israel/Palestine-related issues play out in Congress and in U.S. domestic politics, policies, and legislation. She has been researching and documenting developments related to both anti-BDS legislation and efforts to codify/enforce the IHRA definition of antisemitism for more than a decade (see the FMEP website for her research and related resources). Lara is a former officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, with diplomatic postings in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. Lara tweets at @LaraFriedmanDC.
- Resources shared during the webinar:
- Ran Cohen: @Cohen_Ran → https://twitter.com/Cohen_Ran
- Lara Friedman: @LaraFriedmanDC → https://twitter.com/LaraFriedmanDC
- Yousef Munayyer: @YousefMunayyer → https://twitter.com/YousefMunayyer
- Eran Nissan: @eran_nissan → https://twitter.com/eran_nissan
- Mehazkim: https://mehazkim.org.il/en/
- Sarah Anne Minkin: @saminkin –> https://twitter.com/saminkin
The Kohelet Policy Forum in their own words:
- Website → https://en.kohelet.org.il/
- Policy papers → https://en.kohelet.org.il/policy-papers
- YouTube channel → https://www.youtube.com/@koheletpolicyforum9126
- Interview with Kohelet chair Moshe Koppel: https://youtu.be/4udt4ijlPa8
Mehazkim’s videos on Kohelet:
- First in Hebrew, from 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMu19I5Dpy8
- And a follow-up video from March 2023 in English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvvWHOjN_LQ
- “The secretive Israeli think tank behind Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul” (Washington Post)
- Here is the 2021 Ha’aretz Expose on the U.S. funding on Kohelet: “The U.S. Billionaires Secretly Funding the Right-wing Effort to Reshape Israel” –> https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2021-03-11/ty-article-magazine/.highlight/the-u-s-billionaires-secretly-funding-the-right-wing-effort-to-reshape-israel/0000017f-e90c-da9b-a1ff-ed6f5dd30000
- “The American Billionaires Behind the Far-right Attempt to Destroy Liberal Israel” (Haaretz)
- “The Kohelet Tentacles: Inside the Web Surrounding the Right-wing Think Tank” (Haaretz)
- “Who’s Behind the Judicial Overhaul Now Dividing Israel? Two New Yorkers.” (New York Times)
- “Israeli Settlements Don’t Violate International Law, Pompeo Announces” (Haaretz)
- “An Israeli home for America’s New Right” (+972 Magazine)
- “Meet the conservative activists who want to override the Supreme Court – The right wing is energetic, well-funded, and, as a recent Jerusalem confab” (The Times of Israel)
- “Israel activists in New York take aim at US group backing judicial overhaul push” (Times of Israel, about the Tikvah Fund’s ties to Kohelet) –> https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-activists-in-new-york-take-aim-at-us-group-backing-judicial-overhaul-push/
- And on the meaning of “Jewish Supremacy,” see this FMEP podcast from November 2022 with Peter Beinart, Orly Noy, Natasha Roth-Rowland, and Sarah Anne Minkin: “The Vocabulary of Oppression: Jewish Supremacy from the River to the Sea” –> https://fmep.org/resource/the-vocabulary-of-oppression-jewish-supremacy-from-the-river-to-the-sea/