Abdullah Swalha, a Jordanian political scientist, thinks Jordanians could benefit from better understanding the state on the other side of their western border. “Why is it,” he asks, “that Israeli think tanks know everything about the Arab world, but that Arab think tanks don’t know anything about Israel?” To this end, he has started the Center for Israel Studies in Amman. Avi Lewis writes:
The . . . Center for Israel Studies [is] an independent nonprofit think tank established in late 2014 that seeks to combat media misinformation surrounding the Jewish state and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by presenting an alternative, [more neutral] view of Israel in Arabic for Jordan’s decision makers, journalists, and wider public. . . .
The man behind the institute, Dr. Abdullah Swalha, wants to see an informed Arab public equipped with the tools to relate, deal, and negotiate with Israel, by presenting the country as an imperfect democracy and model of tolerance, albeit with inequalities between Arab and Jewish citizens and an occupying power still controlling the lives of millions of Palestinians in the West Bank—a far cry from the “Zionist entity” trope widely used for decades in the Arab world as a blanket description for the Jewish state.
“We don’t see the other side of Israel: Israel as a model of democracy, Israel as a model for prosperity, Israel as a state that respects human rights,” Swalha [said].