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Endowment for Middle East Truth

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 The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that claims to be the “first unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy shop on Capitol Hill.”[1] EMET’s founder and director is Sarah Stern, an adviser to the controversial film distribution company the Clarion Fund and a former coordinator at the Zionist Organization for America.[2]

Critics have described EMET as a “group of hard-line U.S. neoconservatives and former Israeli diplomats.”[3] Although part of a burgeoning collection of organizations in Washington that collectively make up the “Israel lobby”—which includes the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee—EMET extravagantly claims on its website that it is “the only establishment in Washington that gets out the proud narrative of Israel’s 62 year old struggle to survive amidst amazing challenges and its enormous contributions to humanity as a whole. And we get that out directly in front of our nation’s policymakers, where it counts.”[4]

According to tax records, during 2006-2009, EMET raised nearly $560,000 in gifts, grants, and contributions. Its total expenses in 2009 were about $285,000.[5] A Right Web investigation into charitable donations to EMET during 2008-2009 found that the group received $44,000 from the Leader Family Foundation, which is also a major funder of the right-wing Israel Project, and $150,000 from the rightist Adelson Foundation, which has bankrolled a host of additional right-wing and “pro-Israel” causes.

EMET’s blog is replete with warnings about threats to Israel emerging from its neighbors, particularly Iran. A December 2011 post, for example, warns that “we are running out of time on Iran” and criticizes the Obama administration’s resistance to harsher sanctions. Referring to Tehran’s recovery of a downed surveillance drone that was seized in Iran in late 2011, the blog stated: “Are the Iranians expected to believe that an administration which refuses to recover its own downed aircraft for fear of the reaction, will take a full scale military option against it?”

In another post arguing for a cut-off of U.S. aid to Egypt in the wake of the country’s revolution, Stern argued that U.S. military equipment supplied to Egypt in the past “will be in the hands of radical Islamist forces who fully support Hamas and Hezbollah and seek to destabilize the remaining friends of the U.S. in the Middle East.” Referring to elections in Egypt won by the Muslim Brotherhood, Stern wrote that “it does not look as though Jeffersonian democracy will spring up in Egypt, or anywhere else in the Muslim and Arab Middle East.”

According to EMET, Israel occupies a “unique role as being the eastern outpost of Western democratic values, holding down the fort against a rising tide of radical Islam, and the enormous strategic benefit it brings to the United States, contributing substantial intelligence and hard-earned tactical advice in the war on terrorism. We believe that Israel serves as the ‘canary in the coalmine,’ and that in the eyes of the radical Islamist, each piece of land ceded simply whets their appetite for more in his quest for Islamic hegemony. We believe that what confronts Israel today, will confront the rest of Western civilization tomorrow.”[6]

EMET has sought to support the work of individuals from Islamic societies who speak out against the religion and in support of Israel. In 2010, the group was part of a campaign to get the United States to grant asylum to Mosab Hasan Yousef, the Palestinian son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef. Mosab, who spied for Israeli’s Shin Bet intelligence agency inside Hamas, later converted to Christianity and fled to the United States, where revelations in his book Son of Hamasnearly led to his deportation for aiding a terrorist organization. When Yousef won his legal battle, he placed a call to Stern saying, “Sarah, we won! … I want you to know that you’re the first person I’m calling.”[7]

EMET organizes an annual “Rays of Light in the Darkness” dinner, honoring “those from the Arab and Muslim world who speak out against radical Islam,” as well as Israel hawks in the U.S. Congress.[8] Honorees have included Yousef, Walid Phares, former Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CI), and Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO), among others. [9]

EMET’s board of advisors has included a number of key neoconservative figures and other members of the right-wing advocacy community in the United States, including Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Caroline Glick, Meyrav Wurmser, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Kenneth Timmerman, and Ariel Cohen (of the Heritage Foundation and formerly the National Institute for Pubic Policy).The group has also had several former rightist Israeli diplomats and activists serve on its advisory board, including Likud Party-aligned figures like Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, and Martin Sherman of the Jerusalem Summit.[10]

The Inter Press Service (IPS) reported that EMET has had ties to Likud and neoconservatives groups. According to IPS, EMET advisors include ambassadors Yossi Ben Aharon and Yoram Ettinger, who “were among the three Israeli ambassadors whom then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin referred to as ‘the Three Musketeers’ when they lobbied Washington in opposition to the Oslo accords.”[11]

EMET claims to host seminars, debates, and educational films featuring Middle East experts in order to educate policymakers and the public at large on the common threats to Israel and the United States. In 2008, EMET collaborated with the Clarion Fund in distributing controversial propaganda films hyping the threat from Iran, potentially violating the tax status of both groups because it entailed running a stealth campaign on behalf of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other Republican candidates.[12]

EMET’s website features a number of quotes from well known “pro-Israel” hawks lauding EMET’s work. Steve Emerson, the controversial head of the Intelligence Project on Terrorism, says: “In its short existence, EMET has emerged as a critical organization in the battle against Islamic extremism and terrorism. Founded by Sarah Stern, Emet is dedicated to providing the truth about the Arab war against Israel to members of Congress, the media and the general public. There is no more important mission than this. Sarah brings decades of experience and knowledge with an inexhaustible supply of energy. EMET needs your support.”[13]

The right-wing Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says, “I am writing in strong support of Sarah Stern, who has worked with my office on matters of legislative importance. I praise her efforts in establishing the Washington, DC-based Middle East policy think tank, EMET. … Sarah’s understanding of the Middle East region and the challenges for peace lend themselves well to her endeavors to produce assessments that will be valuable as events unfold. I enthusiastically endorse Sarah Stern’s effort and look forward to EMET’s success.”[14]

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Sources


[1] EMET, “About,” http://emetonline.org/index.php?/about/



[2] Clarion, “About,” http://www.radicalislam.org/content/about-clarion-fund.



[3] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983.



[4] Clarion, “About,” http://www.radicalislam.org/content/about-clarion-fund.



[5] EMET Form 990, 2009, available from Guidestar.com.



[6] EMET, “About,” http://emetonline.org/index.php?/about#.



[7] Hillel Kutler,  “With a major assist from Jewish group, ‘Son of Hamas’ staying in U.S.,” JTA, July 5, 2010, http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/07/05/2739915/with-a-major-assist-from-emet-son-of-hamas-staying-in-us.



[8] Eric Fingerhut, “Lieberman skeptical, but open to, Iran engagement,” JTA, May 7, 2009, http://blogs.jta.org/politics/article/2009/05/07/1004989/lieberman-skeptical-but-open-to-iran-engagement.



[9] The Hill, “The Endowment for Middle East Truth's ‘Rays of Light in the Darkness’ dinner, “ undated, http://washingtonscene.thehill.com/party-events-pictures/archive/4823-thenendowment-for-middle-east-truths-qrays-of-light-in-the-darknessq-dinner-.



[10] EMET, “Board of Advisors,” http://www.emetonline.org/index.php?/advisory/advisory_short.



[11] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983.



[12] Ali Gharib, “Anti-Islam Film Targets ‘Swing State’ Voters,” Inter Press Service, September 19, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43940.



[13] EMET, “About,” http://emetonline.org/index.php?/about#.



[14] EMET, “About,” http://emetonline.org/index.php?/about#.


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Endowment for Middle East Truth Résumé


Endowment for Middle East Truth

1050 Connecticut Ave NW Ste 10

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 772-4275

info@emetonline.org



About (as of 2011)



“EMET is the first unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy shop on Capitol Hill. We are the only establishment in Washington that gets out the proud narrative of Israel’s 62 year old struggle to survive amidst amazing challenges and its enormous contributions to humanity as a whole. And we get that out directly in front of our nation’s policymakers, where it counts. We emphasize Israel’s unique role as being the eastern outpost of Western democratic values, holding down the fort against a rising tide of radical Islam, and the enormous strategic benefit it brings to the United States, contributing substantial intelligence and hard-earned tactical advice in the war on terrorism. We believe that Israel serves as the “canary in the coalmine”, and that in the eyes of the radical Islamist, each piece of land ceded simply whets their appetite for more in his quest for Islamic hegemony. We believe that what confronts Israel today, will confront the rest of Western civilization tomorrow.”



EMET Leadership (as of 2011)

  • Sarah Stern, president

  • Yossi Ben-Aharon, advisor

  • Yoram Ettinger, advisor

  • Lenny Ben-David, advisor

  • James Woolsey, advisor

  • Frank Gaffney, advisor

  • Daniel Pipes, advisor

  • Caroline Glick, advisor

  • Gal Luft, advisor

  • Meyrav Wurmser, advisor

  • Rachel Ehrenfeld, advisor

  • Ariel Cohen, advisor

  • Emmanuel Navon, advisor

  • Amichai Magen, advisor

  • Lori Lowenthal Marcus, advisor

  • Martin Sherman, advisor

  • Walid Shoebat, advisor

  • Kenneth Timmerman, advisor

  • Larry Greenfield, advisor

  • Seth and Sherri Mandell, advisor

  • Ilka Schroeder, advisor

  • James M. Hutchens, advisor

  • David Dalin, advisor

  • Donald E. Gastwirth, advisor

  • Alex Grobman, advisor




Charitable Donations (2008-2009)

  • Leader Family Foundation: $44,000

  • Adelson Family Foundation: $150,000

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