The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized the leftwing Brookings Institution, a well-known Washington, D.C. think-tank, for accepting funding from radical Islamic sources, including the Persian Gulf country, Qatar. Qatar has funded radical Muslim terrorist groups, including Hamas, and the Islamic State (IS) [IS –– also known as the Islamic State in Iraq & Syria (ISIS) and the the Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant (ISIL)]. The ZOA supports criticism of the leftwing Brookings Institution that has been made in this connection by U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA). The ZOA expresses its deep concern over the anti-Israel turn that has manifested itself at Brookings, and has called upon the think tank to reject funding from the Qatari government and other radical Islamic sources.
In 2013, the government of Qatar pledged $14 million to to the Brookings Institution over the next four years. The president of the Brookings Institution, Strobe Talbott, has a long anti-Israel record, including comparing Israel to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which led the ZOA to oppose his nomination in 1994 as Deputy Secretary of State. (The ZOA exposed Talbott’s record and helped persuade 32 Senators to oppose his nomination. The New Republic reported at the time that the controversy and substantial vote against Talbott ensured he would never be promoted to Secretary of State).
The Brookings Institution is also the home of the Saban Center for Middle East, which has been headed by the leftwing Martin Indyk, vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program, who returned to Brookings in July after a stint as President Obama’s special envoy for Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. Indyk has a long record in in minimizing, ignoring and misreporting PA violations of the Oslo Accords, especially regarding incitement to hatred and murder within the PA and refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, as well as a general hostility to the positions of successive elected Israeli governments, which is detailed by the ZOA here.
The ZOA agrees with U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) that think tanks that routinely provide Congress with policy advice should refrain from taking foreign government donations, particularly from nations like Qatar, which has funded terrorist movements like Hamas, the U.S.- and European Union-listed terrorist organization which calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the global murder of Jews.
Cong. Wolf has written to Brookings Institution president, Strobe Talbott, urging Brookings to reject Qatari funding, saying, “When a lobbyist comes before an office, it is well known that they are representing a client or foreign government — and under the law they have to disclose it … However, think tanks are supposed to be different; they are considered to be independent sources of information, and their policy recommendations are expected to be in the national interest rather than their special interest.” Strobe Talbott has alleged that Brookings “does not sell influence to anyone, foreign or domestic” (Eric Lipton, ‘Lawmaker Assails Foreign Donations to Think Tanks,’ New York Times, September 12, 2014).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The Brookings Institution is turning into a decidedly anti-Israel operation, something that is not surprising when one considers the high level of funding by Qatar, a leading supporter of radical Islamic organizations, not least Hamas.
“Brookings, of course, is denying that the work of their scholars is affected by Qatari funding, but who would believe that? As the saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune, and it is likely that the selection and retention of scholars is based on what is sought by, and acceptable to, munificent funders like Qatar. The fact that not all Brookings scholars hew to precisely similar views on all subjects does not negate this point.
“When a radical Islamic regime like Qatar gives millions of dollars to a Washington think tank, it doesn’t do so out of a laudable dedication to advance scholarly research and inform the American public about the dangers of radical Islam, it does so to help influence U.S. foreign policy in a direction favorable to the radical Islamic orientation of Qatar. This is surely obvious.
“In the recent Gaza war, Qatar was working hand-in-glove with Hamas to obtain a ceasefire whose terms would have amounted to a major political victory for Hamas through achieving a relaxation of Israeli blockade and security measures. Qatar worked hard to obtain a far more favorable ceasefire for Hamas than was being offered by Egypt.
“We urge the Brookings Institution to unequivocally reject funding from tainted sources like the Qatari government and other supporters of radical Islam. Until Brookings returns this radical Islamic funding, everyone should be very careful before accepting Brookings policy recommendations and opinions on Middle Eastern matters. If Brookings fails to do that, then it must register as a foreign agent, as required by law of organizations that receive money from foreign governments that seek to influence public policy or public opinion in the United States.”