Does Israel support counterrevolution in Arab world? A response to Philip Weiss
Regarding Philip Weiss’s recent post “Lobbying for Syrian dictatorship, Israel leaves no doubt about its support for counterrevolution in Arab world,” I believe there’s far stronger evidence, contrary to the assertions of Ben Wedeman and Ted Koppel, that Israel is actually supportive of revolution throughout the Arab world.
The clearest example of Israeli support for pro-democracy Arab dissidents is an organization called CyberDissidents.org. It was launched in 2008 by the Adelson Institute, then chaired by Natan Sharansky. The Adelson Institute was located at the Netanyahu-linked Shalem Center, financed by Ronald Lauder and on whose board Bill Kristol sits. Directed by Sharansky protégé, David Keyes, CyberDissidents.org was created “to research and focus attention on the online activities of democracy advocates and dissidents in the Middle East, in the hope of empowering them at home and raising awareness of their plight abroad.” Advising Keyes was neocon guru Bernard Lewis, who would have been very much at home at the 2007 Prague conference organized by Sharansky on “Democracy & Security” (whose participants reminded one Middle East analyst of Murder, Inc!). Also in attendance were some of the neocons’ favourite Arab dissidents. All of this is covered in more detail in my article “Arab Dissidents’ Strange Bedfellows.”
Moreover, CyberDissidents.org is only the tip of the iceberg. Check out, for example, the Saban Center’s Project on Middle East Democracy and Development (MEDD), WINEP’s Project Fikra, and the CFR’s Middle East Program to see how keenly pro-Israelis have for some time been promoting “democratic change” throughout the Middle East. Then there’s the prominence of pro-Israelis at “democracy promotion” near-governmental organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House, as well as “NGOs” like the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (a subject which Jeff Blankfort and I recently discussed on his radio programme). There’s also Joshua Muravchik’s 2009 book, The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East. In fact, the list of pro-Israelis who have enthusiastically backed what Shimon Peres approvingly refers to as the Arab “awakening” goes on and on…