Martin S. Indyk friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton and hired by John Kerry to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians (even though he does not like the Jewish state), was “outed” by the New York Times on Saturday. Indyk, it seems, has a conflict of interest working on the Middle East standoff while being vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institute, which is getting large donations from Qatar, a country known to be huge donor to terrorist groups including Hamas.
Indyk has been accused of being downright nasty toward Israel in public and even worse in private.
The Times reports that Qatar, which provides funding to ISIS and Hamas (and gives sanctuary to Hamas leaders), agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world.
German Development Minister Gerd Muller said last month:
You have to ask who is arming, who is financing ISIS troops? The key word there is Qatar — and how do we deal with these people and states politically.
“Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability,” Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen told the Center for New American Security on “Confronting New Threats in Terrorist Financing” in March. “Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria. To say the least, this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner.”
This is who was paying part of Martin Indyk’s salary.
In interviews, top executives at the think tanks strongly defended the arrangements, saying the money never compromised the integrity of their organizations’ research. Where their scholars’ views overlapped with those of donors, they said, was coincidence.
“Our business is to influence policy with scholarly, independent research, based on objective criteria, and to be policy-relevant, we need to engage policy makers,” said Martin S. Indyk.
Indyk’s feelings about Israel overlap that of the Hamas-supporting Qatar. Perhaps he always felt that way but I am sure the financial gains from Qatar reinforce that feeling. The fact that he has the relationship with Qatar is at the very least a conflict of interest.
Scholars at other Washington think tanks, who were granted anonymity to detail confidential internal discussions, described similar experiences that had a chilling effect on their research and ability to make public statements that might offend current or future foreign sponsors. At Brookings, for example, a donor with apparent ties to the Turkish government suspended its support after a scholar there made critical statements about the country, sending a message, one scholar there said.
“It is the self-censorship that really affects us over time,” the scholar said. “But the fund-raising environment is very difficult at the moment, and Brookings keeps growing and it has to support itself.”
The sensitivities are especially important when it comes to the Qatari government — the single biggest foreign donor to Brookings.
Brookings executives cited strict internal policies that they said ensure their scholars’ work is “not influenced by the views of our funders,” in Qatar or in Washington. They also pointed to several reports published at the Brookings Doha Center in recent years that, for example, questioned the Qatari government’s efforts to revamp its education system or criticized the role it has played in supporting militants in Syria.
But in 2012, when a revised agreement was signed between Brookings and the Qatari government, the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself praised the agreement on its website, announcing that “the center will assume its role in reflecting the bright image of Qatar in the international media, especially the American ones.” Brookings officials also acknowledged that they have regular meetings with Qatari government officials about the center’s activities and budget, and that the former Qatar prime minister sits on the center’s advisory board.
Mr. Ali, who served as one of the first visiting fellows at the Brookings Doha Center after it opened in 2009, said such a policy, though unwritten, was clear.
“There was a no-go zone when it came to criticizing the Qatari government,” said Mr. Ali, who is now a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. “It was unsettling for the academics there. But it was the price we had to pay.”
Sounds like the country funding Hamas had a word or two to say to the guy who was supposed to be a neutral negotiator in the Israeli/PA talks.
There is no indication that the State Department was aware of this arrangement before selecting Indyk to work on the peace talks. However, Kerry was a strong supporter of getting Qatar involved in the talks with Hamas, a stance that did not make Egypt, the P.A., or Israel happy.
On the other hand, Indyk’s anti-Israel stance is not all that different from other progressives, including his good friend Hillary Clinton, so it’s difficult to discern which came first, the hatred or the cash.
Cross-posted at The Lid