Israel Policy Forum to merge with progressive group?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

For weeks rumors have circulated that the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), a pro-peace process group, was on the verge of shutting down – or merging with another organization.


This week there were reports that the group may merge with the Center for American Progress, a group that defines itself as “a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action.”


The group’s Middle East Progress project is much like IPF – relatively conservative, as pro-peace process groups go, a little on the think tanky side.


IPF was created in 1993 as what founders  believed would be a “centrist” alternative to groups like Americans for Peace Now.  Originally, it was an offshoot of Israel’s Labor Party. In 1997 it absorbed Project Nishma, a Washington-based organization that specialized in mobilizing Israeli military authorities who argued that the peace process was in Israel’s security interests.


But the group has had money problems in recent years, and its identity seemed blurred; the recent departure of Washington director MJ Rosenberg, a popular blogger and outspoken critic of the policies of recent Israeli governments, left it without its most visible spokesperson.  Rosenberg went to Media Matters for America, a major progressive Web site.


IPF  also used as commentators Middle East experts like public diplomacy activist Stephen Cohen and UCLA political scientist Stephen Spiegel.


No details yet on the merger; an IPF official curtly declined to comment on reports a deal is in the works.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.