The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Coordinates: 38°54′13″N 77°02′35″W / 38.9037°N 77.043°W / 38.9037; -77.043
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The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Formation1985; 38 years ago (1985)[1]
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., U.S.
Executive Director
Robert Satloff
Revenue (2016)
Expenses (2016)$13,033,921[2]

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP or TWI, also known simply as The Washington Institute) is a pro-Israel American think tank based in Washington, D.C.,[3][4] focused on the foreign policy of the United States in the Near East.

WINEP was established in 1985 with the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the funding of many AIPAC donors, in order to provide higher quality research than AIPAC's publications.[5] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt described WINEP as "part of the core" of the Israel lobby in the United States.[6]


WINEP was started in 1985 by founding chairwoman Barbi Weinberg of Los Angeles, CA. Martin Indyk, an Australian-trained academic and former deputy director of research for AIPAC, was the first executive director. Indyk described the think tank as "friendly to Israel but doing credible research on the Middle East in a realistic and balanced way."[7] The research was thus designed to be more independent and academic-quality.[8] At the time it was founded, the institute focused research on Arab–Israeli relations, political and security issues, and overall U.S. Middle East policy.[1] In the 1990s, prompted by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Persian Gulf War, and changes in regional strategy, the institute expanded its research agenda to "focus on Turkey and the rise of Islamic politics."[1] It was during the Gulf War that the institute gained public recognition as a source for commentary and analysis. By 1992, it had a staff of 12–15 in-house research fellows, in addition to visiting scholars and support staff.[9] Under Indyk's leadership, the institute gained notability as a center for the study and discussion of Middle East policy, and attracted Arab intellectuals to its events.[10] Indyk would go on to serve in several U.S. diplomatic posts including U.S. ambassador to Israel, special envoy for Israeli–Palestinian negotiations, special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council and assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Indyk is currently vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.[11]

In addition to ongoing research, the institute has striven to provide in-depth analysis at key inflection points in Middle East policy, such as during presidential election years. Beginning in 1988, the institute convened bipartisan Presidential Study Groups that have offered policy papers for incoming administrations of either party. The inaugural PSG document informed the policy of the George H. W. Bush administration toward the Middle East peace process.[12] The institute has earned a reputation for solid scholarship, is committed to the peace process, and is a "staunch supporter of Israel" — a relationship with which it believes advances U.S. security interests.[3] It has bipartisan support in the US, though it is closer ideologically to the Democratic Party and generally opposes neoconservative policy.[13]

After the takeover of areas of Iraq by the Sunni militant group Daesh (ISIL) in 2014, The New York Times reported that Institute Lafer Fellow[14] Michael Knights [15] had alerted the U.S. National Security Council as early as 2012 to the rising level of insurgency among Iraq's Sunni minority. White House officials questioned his statistics and did not take action.[16]

The institute has been a forum for the discussion of key issues in U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia. In May 2016, it hosted the former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud, alongside IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a rare joint public appearance.[17] Two years later, Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, addressed the institute and advocated a more moderate and tolerant Islam.[18] Dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi participated in an institute forum in November 2016 in which he stated that Saudi Arabia should be "rightfully nervous about the Trump presidency," according to The Economist.[19] The magazine reported that Saudi authorities asked Khashoggi to stop writing after the institute appearance but the journalist chose to live in exile instead. He was assassinated in Istanbul in 2018 while visiting the Saudi consulate.


The Washington Institute is considered an academic think tank (akin to the Brookings Institution and Public Policy Institute of California), staffed largely by researchers holding doctorate degrees and generally not having a mission affiliated with a particular ideology, as opposed to an advocacy think tank, which is staffed by individuals with strong ideological leanings.[20] Academic think tanks focus on producing extensive research reports and books, whereas advocacy think tanks focus on marketing their ideas with condensed materials. Think tanks of all types typically also organize conferences, provide briefings to legislative committee staff, and testify as policy experts.[20]

The Washington Institute accesses the policy process from many angles: the written word, the spoken word, and personal contact. Institute experts research the region and brief officials in all branches of the U.S. government, both civilian and military.[1] In addition to producing printed long-form monographs, the institute issues time-sensitive policy briefs which are distributed electronically by e-mail and social media.[21] A Chicago Tribune editorial declared that institute-sponsored polls bring to light trends in popular thinking across the Middle East.[22]

While the institute frequently hosts off-the-record events with policymakers and scholars, its policy forums are public events featuring newsmakers and analysts that are attended by officials and journalists[23] and are broadcast live on-line.[24] The institute also holds an annual policy conference that convenes policymakers, journalists and diplomats in Washington, D.C., for in-depth discussion and debate on the key Middle East issues facing the United States.[25][26][27]

Institute scholars are public intellectuals who share their analysis frequently in major print and broadcast outlets.[28] All institute output is available through its website in both English[29] and Arabic.[30]

In addition to its permanent resident fellows—a group of experienced policymakers from government and academia—the institute also hosts visiting fellows from around the world. Visiting fellows include both young people beginning their foreign policy careers and veterans who take advantage of a year in Washington, D.C., to study the Middle East from an American vantage point. In cooperation with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and State Department, WINEP offers one-year fellowships that enable rising officers to immerse themselves in the geopolitics of the Middle East and the process of Washington policymaking.[31] The institute also supports a program for research assistants and interns that provides foreign policy experience for undergraduates and recent college graduates.[32] Several institute alumni now hold positions in the government, military, and academia internationally.[citation needed]

The institute's Scholar-Statesman Award[33] honors individuals "whose public service and professional achievements exemplify sound scholarship and a discerning knowledge of history." Recipients have included former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former CIA directors Michael Hayden and George Tenet.[34][35]


M.J. Rosenberg criticized the organization on Al Jazeera for having strong ties to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC and for being founded by a former AIPAC employee.[36]

In a December 2003 interview on Al Jazeera, Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American professor and director of Columbia University's Middle East Institute, sharply criticized WINEP, stating that it is "the fiercest of the enemies of the Arabs and the Muslims", and describing it as the "most important Zionist propaganda tool in the United States."[37] In response, Martin Kramer, the editor of the Middle East Quarterly and a visiting fellow at WINEP, defended the group, saying that it is "run by Americans, and accepts funds only from American sources," and that it was "outrageous" for Khalidi to denounce Arabs that visited WINEP as "blundering dupes."[38]

John Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago political science professor, and Stephen Walt, academic dean at Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University, describe it as "part of the core" of the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States.[39] Discussing the group in their book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Mearsheimer and Walt write:

Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a 'balanced and realistic' perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel's agenda ... Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP's ranks."[39]

In 2011 WINEP Executive Director Robert Satloff criticized the New York Times' identification of the organization as pro-Israel, saying the moniker "projects two false impressions—first, that the institute does not value American interests above special pleading for a foreign power and second, that the institute must be 'anti' others in the region (Palestinians, Arabs)."[40]

In a 2014 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Lauder Institute, of all think tanks worldwide, the Washington Institute was ranked 42nd on "Best Transdisciplinary Research Program at a Think Tank" and 42nd on "Think Tanks with Outstanding Policy-Oriented Public Programs".[41]

Notable current and former scholars

Several current and former members of WINEP have served in senior positions in the administrations of presidents George H. W. Bush,[42][43] Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.[44]

Board of Advisors

As of December 12, 2018, the Washington Institute's advisory board included:[45]

Previous board members


  1. ^ a b c d "Mission & History". Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b "The Washington Institute for Near East Policy" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Pro-Israeli Group Offers Maps for Palestinian State". The New York Times. 2011-01-22. It speaks to the paralysis in the Middle East peace process that the most noteworthy development of the past week came when a mild-mannered analyst at a pro-Israel think tank unfurled three color-coded maps. The analyst, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  4. ^ Keskin, Tugrul (2018). Middle East Studies after September 11: Neo-Orientalism, American Hegemony and Academia. Studies in Critical Social Sciences. Brill. p. 9. ISBN 978-90-04-35990-1. written by Martin Kramer in 2003 and published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israeli think tank

    Breger, Marshall (2002). Mittleman, Alan; Licht, Robert; Sarna, Jonathan D (eds.). Jews and the American Public Square: Debating Religion and Republic. G - Reference,Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-7425-2124-7. founded in 1985 as a pro-Israel but not specifically Jewish think tank.

    "Israel Captures 2 Palestinians Suspected in Deadly Ax Attack". The New York Times. 2022-05-08. Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank.

    Weiss, T.G.; Crahan, M.E.; Goering, J.; Goering, J.M.; Robinson, M. (2004). Wars on Terrorism and Iraq: Human Rights, Unilateralism, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-70062-7. as the then newly founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy. This organization, a pro-Israel think tank, was itself a spin-off of AIPAC

    Marrar, K. (2008). The Arab Lobby and US Foreign Policy: The Two-State Solution. Routledge Research in American Politics and Governance. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-135-97071-0. Dennis Ross, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel think tank closely aligned with AIPAC

    Lockman, Zachary (2005). "Critique from the Right: The Neo-conservative Assault on Middle East Studies". CR: The New Centennial Review. Michigan State University Press. 5 (1): 81–82. doi:10.1353/ncr.2005.0034. ISSN 1539-6630. JSTOR 41949468. S2CID 145071422. By contrast, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy ( WINEP), founded in 1985, quickly achieved a much higher profile and much greater influence. Describing itself as "a public educational foundation dedicated to scholarly research and informed debate on U.S. interests in the Middle East,"9 WINEP emerged as the leading pro-Israel think tank in Washington. Its founding director, Martin Indyk, had previously worked at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), founded in 1959 and by the 1970s by far the most well-funded, visible, and effective pro-Israel lobbying organization. Indyk and his colleagues at WINEP worked hard to strengthen Israel's standing in Washington as the key U.S. ally in the Middle East and to ensure that U.S. policy in the region coincided with the policies and strategies of the Israeli government

    "The Israeli Lobby". Journal of Palestine Studies. University of California Press on behalf of the Institute for Palestine Studies. 35 (3): 92. 2006-04-01. doi:10.1525/jps.2006.35.3.83. During the Clinton administration, Middle Eastern policy was largely shaped by officials with close ties to Israel or to prominent pro-Israel organizations; among them, Martin Indyk, the former deputy director of research at AIPAC and co-founder of the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP)

    Mearsheimer, John J.; Walt, Stephen M. (2009). "The Blind Man and the Elephant in the Room: Robert Lieberman and the Israel Lobby". Perspectives on Politics. [American Political Science Association, Cambridge University Press]. 7 (2): 262. doi:10.1017/S1537592709090781. JSTOR 40406929. S2CID 7758818. Similarly, when Martin Indyk - formerly deputy director of research at AIPAC and co-founder of the pro-Israel Washington Institute of Near East Policy - is appointed one of Bill Clinton's key Middle East advisors, it strains credulity to exclude him from the "loose coalition" that "actively works" to promote the "special relationship."

    Rynhold, Jonathan (2010). "Is the Pro-Israel Lobby a Block on Reaching a Comprehensive Peace Settlement in the Middle East?". Israel Studies Forum. Berghahn Books. 25 (1): 31. ISSN 1557-2455. JSTOR 41805052. For example, Martin Indyk who had worked for AIPAC and was the head of Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank with close connections to Israel, played an important role in formulating US policy toward the Middle East in the 1990s

  5. ^ Thomas G. Mitchell (8 May 2013). Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution. McFarland. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-0-7864-7597-1. In 1985 AIPAC's deputy director of Foreign Policy Research, Martin Indyk, a former Australian intelligence official, set up the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a think tank designed to provide policy output that would influence the executive branch and the media. Indyk created WINEP with AIPAC's blessing and with funding from many AIPAC donors. It was designed to provide more academic-quality and independent research than AIPAC put out. WINEP concentrates on the internal affairs of Middle Eastern countries except for Israel and on the foreign and defense policies of these countries. It also provides Israel-friendly prescriptions for the peace process. WINEP has become a serious player in Washington and a supplier of foreign policy officials for both parties.
  6. ^ John J Mearsheimer; Stephen M Walt (26 June 2008). The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 175–176. ISBN 978-0-14-192066-5. Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a 'balanced and realistic' perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel's agenda … Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP's ranks... This situation highlights that the lobby is not a centralized, hierarchical organization with a defined membership... It has a core consisting of organizations whose declared purpose is to encourage the U.S. government and the American public to provide material aid to Israel and to support its government's policies, as well as influential individuals for whom these goals are also a top priority... a lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), or the leadership of organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Christians United for Israel are part of the core.
  7. ^ Ottoway, David B. (March 24, 1989). "Mideast Institute's Experts and Ideas Ascendant; Latecomer's Go-Slow, Small-Steps Approach Finds Favor With Bush Administration". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ Thomas G. Mitchell (2013). Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution. McFarland. p. 164.
  9. ^ Diane Stone (1996). Capturing the Political Imagination: Think Tanks and the Policy Process. Frank Cass. p. 275. ISBN 9780714647166. Dedicated to providing research on the Middle East that is timely, of high quality and policy-relevant, the Washington Institute provides information and analysis on US interests in the Middle East. ... As a source of commentary and analysis, it became well known during the Gulf War.
  10. ^ Itamar Rabinovich (July 2009). The Brink of Peace: The Israeli-Syrian Negotiations. p. 89. ISBN 978-1400822652.
  11. ^ "Martin Indyk". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  12. ^ Quandt, William B. (2001). Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Inst. Press. p. 293. ISBN 0-520-22374-8.
  13. ^ Alexander Murinson (2010). Turkey's Entente with Israel and Azerbaijan: State identity and security in the Middle East and Caucasus. Routledge. pp. 71–72. ISBN 9781135182434. Ideologically WINEP is closer to the Democratic Party. Generally, it opposes the 'neoconservative' agenda in Washington. ... The Washington Institute has acquired a reputation as the leading institute among think tanks with a regional focus. Specifically, it made major contributions to the search for a resolution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. ... It is the most influential think tank in Washington with a bipartisan agenda. ... Due to its privileged position within both Republican and Democratic White House administrations over the last three decades, the Washington Institute was able to go beyond influence; the American government on some occasions adopted WINEP's policy prescriptions.
  14. ^ Fred S. Lafer was the third president of WINEP. (Fred Lafer, longtime Jewish leader, dies, May 1, 2013. Accessed 23 January 2015.)
  15. ^ "Michael Knights - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  16. ^ Baker, Peter (June 22, 2014). "Relief Over U.S. Exit From Iraq Fades as Reality Overtakes Hope". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  17. ^ Cortellessa, Eric (6 May 2016). "In rare joint appearance, Saudi prince, ex-Netanyahu adviser spar over peace". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  18. ^ Satloff, Robert (3 May 2018). "Islam and Countering Radical Ideology". National Cable Satellite Corporation. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  19. ^ "How free expression is suppressed in Saudi Arabia". The Economist. 26 July 2018.
  20. ^ a b Vincent N. Parrillo (2008). Encyclopedia of Social Problems, Volume 1. SAGE Publications. pp. 1049–50. ISBN 9781412941655. Political scientists generally differentiate think tanks based on the nature of their work. ... Examples of academic think tanks include the Brookings Institution, Public Policy Institute of California, and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ... Both academic and contract think tanks have a 'muted ideology' and as such tend not to have a mission affiliated with a particular political perspective. ... Lengthy research reports and books are more typical of the publications produced by academic and contract think tanks, while advocacy think tanks put more emphasis on producing policy briefs, summary reports, thought pieces, and newsletters.
  21. ^ "Publications". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. self-published.
  22. ^ Ignatius, David (August 5, 2014). "Defang Hamas and give Gazans a fresh start". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  23. ^ "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict". C-SPAN. August 7, 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Event Broadcasts". WINEP. self-published. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  25. ^ "Annual Conference". WINEP. self-published. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  26. ^ "U.S. Blames Israelis, Palestinians for Failed Mideast Talks". NBC News. May 9, 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  27. ^ "News Transcript". U.S. Dept. of Defense. Defense.Gov. May 9, 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  28. ^ "Press Room". WINEP. self-published. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  29. ^ "The Washington Institute for Near East Policy - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy".
  30. ^ "معهد واشنطن - معهد واشنطن لسياسة الشرق الأدنى".
  31. ^ "Experts". WINEP. self-published. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  32. ^ "Employment". WINEP. self-published. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  33. ^ "Scholar-Statesman Award Dinner - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy".
  34. ^ "Scholar Statesman Dinner". WINEP. self-published. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  35. ^ Pollak, Suzanne (December 10, 2012). "Ross, Abrams and Jeffrey see strike by '14 if Iran does not comply". JTA. JTA. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  36. ^ Rosenberg, M.J. (27 August 2011). "Who funds Muslim-baiting in the US?". Al-Jazeera.
  37. ^ "الواقع من الخيال في مشاريع الكونغرس الأميركي – From Washington". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  38. ^ "Columbia's Radical Caravan" by Martin Kramer, New York Sun, January 6, 2004.
  39. ^ a b Mearsheimer, John J.; Walt, Stephen M. (2007). The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. Macmillan. pp. 175–6. ISBN 978-0-374-17772-0.
  40. ^ Satloff, Robert (25 January 2011). "Robert Satloff responds to the New York Times characterization of the Institute as "a pro-Israel think tank"". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  41. ^ "The 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index". University of Pennsylvania. 2015-02-04. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  42. ^ Ismael, Tareq Y.; Ismael, Jacqueline S. (1994). The Gulf War and the new world order: international relations of the Middle East. University Press of Florida. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-8130-1264-3.
  43. ^ "The myth of the 'Jewish lobby'". Frontline. Vol. 20, no. 20. 2003-10-10. Archived from the original on 2006-06-29.
  44. ^ Landler, Mark (10 November 2011). "Obama's Influential Mideast Envoy to Resign". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  45. ^ "Board of Advisors". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 24 May 2013.

External links

38°54′13″N 77°02′35″W / 38.9037°N 77.043°W / 38.9037; -77.043