Spotlight on the Kohelet Policy Forum: How a Right-Wing, US-Funded Israeli Think Tank Is Shaping Policy and Law

April 4, 2023

As Israel’s far right has gained political influence and momentum—especially with respect to the current government’s planned judicial overhaul—the outsized impact of the Kohelet Policy Forum has been making headlines. The formerly low-profile, high-impact Israeli think-tank has been featured in The New York Times and Haaretz. But mainstream news coverage has left key parts of this story unexamined: the ties between Kohelet and right-wing funders in the US and the group’s years-long effort to influence policy and law not only in Israel but in the United States.

Join Ran Cohen, Yousef Munayyer, Eran Nissan, and Lara Friedman—experts who have been researching and documenting the activities and funding of the Kohelet Policy Forum—for a conversation about the impact of the think tank’s work in both the US and Israel/Palestine.

Co-sponsored by the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Jewish Currents.

Ran Cohen is a media, campaign, and strategy consultant as well as a social and political activist. He is the founder of the Democratic Bloc and former director of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. He tweets @Cohen_Ran.

Yousef Munayyer is a non-resident Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC (ACW). He writes on the Arab-Israeli conflict and is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Palestine Studies. His articles can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, Journal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Policy, and elsewhere. Munayyer holds a PhD in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Maryland. He tweets @YousefMunayyer.

Eran Nissan is the CEO of Mehazkim. He previously headed the Education and Advocacy Department at Peace Now. Eran holds a BA in Political Science & Philosophy from Ben-Gurion University and an MA in Emergency and Disaster Management from Tel Aviv University. Eran is a certified dog trainer, and volunteers at Magen David-Adom as an EMT and an ambulance driver. He tweets @eran_nissan.

Lara Friedman is the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). She is a leading authority on the Middle East, with particular expertise on US foreign policy in the region, on Israel/Palestine, and on the way Middle East and Israel/Palestine-related issues play out in Congress and in US domestic politics, policies, and legislation. She has been researching and documenting developments related to both anti-BDS legislation and efforts to codify/enforce the IHRA definition of antisemitism for more than a decade. (See the FMEP website for her research and related resources.) Lara is a former officer in the US Foreign Service, with diplomatic postings in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. Lara tweets @LaraFriedmanDC.

The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) works to defend and support Palestinian rights, end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, and ensure a just and secure future for Palestinians and Israelis. FMEP advances this goal through its grants program, public programming, and research.