At the Quincy Institute, Liberals and Conservatives Come Together to Defend Dictators and Bash Israel

Founded in 2019, the Quincy Institute is a Washington-based foreign-policy think tank that brings together scholars, activists, and former officials of both left and right, most of whom have little in common but a belief that the U.S. should be more accommodating of murderous dictators. Among the crimes its fellows and affiliates have attempted to deny or to whitewash are Bashar al-Assad’s gassing of his own subjects, China’s brutal campaign against the Uighurs, and even the Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s mass-murder of Muslims. The institute also has its share of committed Israel-haters, such as Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer, the professors who believe a malicious “Israel lobby” pulls the strings of U.S. foreign policy; Lawrence Wilkerson, the former adviser to Colin Powell and Bernie Sanders who has exhibited a “dangerous obsession with American policymakers who happened to be Jewish”; and Trita Parsi, a professional apologist for the Islamic Republic of Iran, who frequently blames the Jewish state for the Middle East’s problems.

In an investigation into Quincy, Armin Rosen reveals that Parsi is at the center of things:

The institute’s titular director and president is Andrew Bacevich, [but its] IRS document identifies Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council until 2018, as another one of Quincy’s co-founders and as its executive vice-president. The tax-exemption application lists Parsi’s estimated compensation at $275,000 a year, compared with $50,000 for Bacevich—a fair indication of who is actually running Washington’s weirdest and most intriguing foreign-policy shop.

“The guy is basically an ideologue, and he is pushing a very focused agenda, but the agenda has to do with representing a perspective of a certain wing of the Iranian government,” Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, said . . . of Parsi. “Why anyone would make him the executive vice-president of a supposedly American foreign-policy association doesn’t make any sense. It is to announce that you are compromised from the outset, that you are basically nonserious, and that you don’t understand the implications of what you are doing.”

In . . . 1997, Parsi wrote a kind of open letter to Kenneth Timmerman, a former journalist and founder of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran: “Your organization is nothing else but a façade, a façade to make it seem as if Iranians support the U.S. and Israel’s stance towards the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran]. By your name, I suspect that you are a Jew.”

And while Stephen Wertheim, the director of Quincy’s Grand Strategy Program, has become a frequent presence on the New York Times opinion page, it’s worth wondering how many well-placed essays it takes to bury something like Sarah Leah Whitson, then Quincy’s director for research and policy, tweeting that the Israeli experience of living under coronavirus lockdowns was “missing a tablespoon of blood.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Isolationism, Israel Lobby, Totalitarianism, U.S. Foreign policy

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security