The Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies seeks to contribute to the advancement of Middle East peace and security by conducting policy-relevant research on strategic subjects, particularly as they relate to the national security and foreign policy of Israel.
The BESA Center is a non-partisan and independent institute, affiliated with the political science department at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
The Center was founded in 1993 by Thomas O. Hecht, a prominent Canadian Jewish community leader. A long-time leader of the Canadian pro-Israel lobby and former president of Israel Bonds and the United Israel Appeal, Hecht also was a close associate for thirty years of the late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. Dr. Hecht dedicated the center to the memory of Begin and the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat -- who together concluded the first Arab-Israeli peace treaty.
Israeli decision-makers in military and civilian life, diplomats and academics worldwide, the press and the broader Israeli public -- all have come to count on the BESA Centerís expertise when considering the opportunities for peace and the problems of war in the Middle East.
Relations with the Palestinians; terrorism; nuclear deterrence; security fences and defensible borders; reform of the Israel Defense Forces; security arrangements on the Golan Heights; the future of settlements; strategic relations in the eastern Mediterranean; investment in space-based weapon systems; hi-tech and the future Mideast battlefield; the dangers of a nuclear Iran -- on all these issues and more the BESA Centerís voice has been heard and been prescient.
The BESA Center has developed cooperative relationships with strategic study centers and government defense agencies throughout the world, from Ankara to Washington and from London to New Delhi.
Since its founding in 1993, the BESA Center has published more than 90 original research papers and 8 books, and run more than 225 symposia, research seminars, conferences and international conferences.
BESA Center associates have spoken at conferences and symposia in more than 30 countries around the world. Its experts have been interviewed thousands of times in more than 120 newspapers and quality defense publications around the world, from The New York Times and The Washington Post, to The Times of London and Janeís Defense Weekly. Three Center associates are regular columnists for The Jerusalem Post. The Center has conducted specialized research on contract from the Israeli government and various organizations.
In many important policy areas, BESA Center researchers have been far ahead of the pack in identifying issues of emerging concern.
- BESA Center researchers Professors Efraim Inbar and Shmuel Sandler were the first to generate a debate about the problematics of Palestinian statehood in important international publications such as the IISSís Survival and in Foreign Affairs.
- Dr. Dany Shoham, a biochemist with the Israeli defense ministry and a BESA Center research associate, published detailed studies warning of the dangers from Arab chemical and biological weapons, long before anyone else took note of the growing threat.
- Professor Efraim Inbar and Dr. Amikam Nahmani were pioneers in identification and development of Israel-Turkey strategic relations, a powerful partnership that has now become a linchpin of Mideast security.
- The extensive defense ties that now exist between Israel and India also were preceded by several years of rapprochement conducted mainly by Israeli academics from the BESA Center with colleagues from the Indian academic, defense and military establishments.
- Prof. Stuart Cohenís pioneer, in-depth studies of the changing relationship between Israeli society and the IDF now serve as the basis for IDF manpower policies and long-term force planning.
- Prof. Gerald Steinberg was among the first to warn of Iranís accelerating drive for nuclear weaponry.
- The BESA Centerís ďNational Strategic Plan for Efficient Use of Israelís Limited Water ResourcesĒ, developed over two years by a interdisciplinary and inter-university team of experts at the BESA Center, was adopted by a cross-party parliamentary group as the basis for legislation on national water policy.