A new institute dedicated to Israel studies has opened in Washington. The Israel Institute, to be led by Itamar Rabinovich, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the president of Tel Aviv University, was established with funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. It plans to fund doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, research grants, and visiting professorships, as well as fellowships for students enrolled in Israel studies programs at Israeli universities, residences for Israeli artists, and internships at Washington think tanks for policy-oriented Ph.D. candidates. Other planned activities of the institute, including support for academic conferences, are outlined here. The members of the institute's advisory board can be found here.
Ariel Ilan Roth, executive director of the Israel Institute, said its goals are to “bring coherence” to the growing but “jumbled” field of Israel studies, and to serve as a source of funding and support for scholars pursuing Israel-related scholarship.
“We want to provide financial and structural opportunities for people to develop a skill-set and to do so under the most rigorous academic conditions,” Roth said. “We’re talking about serious study: we’re not talking about political advocacy, we’re not talking about political lobbying. We’re talking about applying the best tools of academic exploration to whatever aspect of the modern Israeli experience the scholar sees fit to explore.”
Nathan J. Brown, president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association and a professor of politics at George Washington University, said he was pleased to see the establishment of a new scholarly institute dedicated to the region (albeit one country within it): "This is a time when for example, funding for Title VI programs has been cut, so to have new support for anything related to Middle East Studies is good," he said.