Jonathan Institute

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FormationSeptember 1976
Typethink tank
The group which held the now infamous JCIT.

The Jonathan Institute was founded in Israel in September 1976, focused on "terrorism".

Aims and objectives

The "foremost aim" of the Jonathan Institute, wrote the President of Israel Ephraim Katzir "is to inspire our people with the basic values of Zionism".[1]

He listed three aims of 'paramount importance':

  • The Jonathan Institute intends to make plain, especially to the youth and army of Israel, the essential facts of the world Jewish Problem, the classic Zionist solution, and the indispensability of Israel to the survival of the Jewish people...
  • the Institute will advance the idea... that Israel's survival, strength and security are crucial to the survival of the free world...
  • the Institute will seek to determine the roots of the terrorism which engulfs the world today... The ways and means of coping with this danger will be explored...[1]


According to the journalist Kevin Toolis the Institute and in particular Benjamin Netanyahu are of major significance understanding 'today's counter-terrorism industry'. [2]

Binyamin Netanyahu, one of the most significant figures in the creation of the ideology of counter-terrorism, founded the Jonathan Institute in memory of his brother and organised two seminal international anti-terrorist conferences.
The first was held in 1979 in Jerusalem and, according to Netanyahu, 'exposed . . . the full involvement of states in international terrorism, and the centrality of the Soviet Union and the PLO in fomenting and spreading it'. He quoted the former chief of Israeli military intelligence General Shlomo Gazit, who revealed that 'Arab terrorists participated in 50 different military schools, some 40 in the Soviet Union itself'.
These observations, from Netanyahu's introduction to a 1986 collection of papers, Terrorism: how the west can win, perfectly encapsulate both the ideological roots of latter-day counter- terrorism studies and the uses of supposed intelligence material to shore up a subjective, factually spurious, premise. As we now know from the WMD fiasco in Iraq, 'intelligence' is rarely detached from the aims of the political leadership that controls its public dissemination.
Netanyahu, a vivid, brilliant propagandist and player on the Washington diplomatic circuit, sought to convince American conservatives that the sectional interests of the Israeli state were identical to those of the western democracies. He was largely preaching to the converted. Many of the names of contributors to the second Jonathan Institute conference, held in Washington in 1984, reappear as neoconservatives in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war. They include Jeane Kirkpatrick, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Ledeen and Bernard Lewis. [2]

Ardent conservative Caroline Glick writing in the Jerusalem Post cites the Institute conference as providing views that 'in large part', 'framed' the policies of George W. Bush twenty-five years later. [3] She identifies the Democratic Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson as a key speaker:

the interesting thing about Jackson's view of international terrorism is how central Israel's unstinting war against Palestinian terrorism was in shaping his thinking.
The occasion at which Jackson articulated his thoughts most extensively was in a speech he gave in Jerusalem in 1979 when he addressed the Conference on International Terrorism sponsored by the Jonathan Institute - named for Yoni Netanyahu. In his speech in 1979, Jackson referred to terrorism as 'a modern form of warfare against liberal democracies' whose goal 'is to destroy the very fabric of democracy.'
Alluding to the PLO, Jackson argued then, 'To insist that free nations negotiate with terrorist organizations can only strengthen the latter and weaken the former. To crown with statehood a movement based on terrorism would devastate the moral authority that rightly lies behind the effort of free states everywhere to combat terrorism.' Jackson ended that address by praising Israel's battle against Palestinian terrorism saying, "In providing for her own defense against terrorism, Israeli courage has inspired those who love freedom around the world.'[3]


Founding Executive Committee

Prof Abraham Shalit | Erwin S. Shimron | Prof Zvi Eyal | Dr Reuben Hecht | Ellyahu Lankin | Prof Suzanne Daniel | Prof Alexander Fuks | Dr Alexander Rafaeli | Prof Benzion Netanyahu[1]

Public Committee


Benjamin Netanyahu, Director 1978-1980.[4] | Lord Chalfont Conference Chair, 1984 | David Bar-Ilan Conference director, 1984


The American Friends of the Jonathan Institute was created in New York City in 1977.[5] Its mission statement stated its orientation:

The objective of The American Friends of the Jonathan Institute is support of educational & cultural activities, increasing public awareness of Jewish history, values of Judaism, role of the State of Israel as the spiritual center of the Jewish people, and the dynamics of conflict and peace in the Middle East.[5]




External Resources


Event Planned

Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism2 July 19795 July 1979Israel
The birthplace of the "War on Terror" doctrine, "a major international forum for the movement against détente".


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Jonathan Institute, extract from The "Terrorism" Industrybook extract1990Edward S. Herman
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  1. a b c d The Jonathan Institute The Jonathan Institute, circa 1977, 15pp
  2. a b Kevin Toolis 'Rise of the terrorist professors; Throughout academia, the study of terrorism is booming. But in reality, argues Kevin Toolis, these 'experts' represent an ideology that has its roots in the cold war and in Israeli conservatism', New Statesman June 14. 2004.
  3. a b Caroline B. Glick 'A return to Jacksonian Zionism' The Jerusalem Post, November 22, 2002 Friday
  4. Prime Minister's Office Benjamin Netanyahu Curriculum Vitae. Accessed 4 August 2014.
  5. a b Guidestar American Friends of the Jonathan Institute, accessed 31 August 2012
  6. a b Benjamin Netanyahu, International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, Jonathan Institute, 1981, Foreword.
  7. Melani McAlister Iran, Islam, and the Terrorist Threat, 1979-1989 in J. David Slocum (ed) Terrorism, Media, Liberation. Rutgers University Press, 2005.
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