Friday, February 06, 2009

Does Israel Need Think Tanks?

Hannah Meyers writes:

In Israel, think tanks have failed to influence policy significantly despite Israel's democratic culture, the gravity of its policy debates, and the fact that, per capita, Israel actually has a higher percentage of think tanks than the United States.

And Avraham Burg:

I have very low expectations of new thinking and insight emerging from the mainstream Israeli and Jewish establishment. Their role is to maintain the status quo. Israel is bereft of forward thinking. We are experts at managing the crisis rather than finding alternatives to the crisis. In Israel you have many tanks, but not many think tanks. One of the reasons I left the Israeli politics was my growing feeling that Israel became a very efficient kingdom, but with no prophecy. Where is it going?

In this case, it seems that right and left agree: Israel's think tanks aren't doing a very good job at impacting public debate, let alone public policy. (It hardly needs to be said that the Arab world could use some think tanks - I say it anyway in the interests of fairness.)