I spent much of the day today at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). The center describes itself as “a multidisciplinary, independent, non-profit think tank for Israel policy research and education, bringing together the best minds in the political, strategic, diplomatic and legal arenas in Israel and abroad.” The JCPA was founded in 1976 by the late Professor Daniel Elazar, a professor of political science whose work contributed to the contemporary study of federalism and political culture. Today it is headed by the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Dore Gold.
Its political and policy work aside, the JCPA has an excellent library of primary and secondary source material on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among its resources is a six volume set edited by JCPA fellow Netanel Lorch, Major Knesset Debates, 1948-1981. The volumes collect together the most important Israeli parliamentary discussions, debates, and resolutions from the state’s first 30 years, in English no less. The JCPA has made a few of these documents available online, but the vast majority can only be accessed in the printed texts.
They have been generous enough to allow me to sit at the center, peruse the volumes, and make copies. Today, I skimmed the first 3 volumes, covering the periods of 1948 to 1957. Already I have uncovered a wealth of information about Israel’s early years and the debates which defined its territorial policies vis-à-vis its neighbors, the superpowers, and its domestic Jewish and Arab constituencies and fractious political parties. Hopefully I will be able to review the next three tomorrow and make many many many photocopies.