Two years ago at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, DC., Joshua Muravchic spoke about his book, “The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East.” In “The Next Founders,” he profiles seven people from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Kuwait, and Syria. It’s especially noteworthy that the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) advisor was not promoting democratic voices only in regimes that would be considered unfriendly to Israel.
There to discuss Muravchik’s book was Tamara Wittes, another longtime pro-Israel advocate of democratic reform in the Middle East and author of Freedom’s Unsteady March: America’s Role in Building Arab Democracy. The then director of the Saban Center’s Middle East Democracy and Development (MEDD) Project is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), where she coordinates democracy and human rights policy for the NEA Bureau and supervises the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). According to an April 18 Washington Post report, MEPI has funneled up to $6 million to Syrian opposition groups since 2006. Wittes commented:
“There are a lot of organizations in Syria and other countries that are seeking changes from their government. That’s an agenda that we believe in and we’re going to support.”
Presumably, those “other countries” included Egypt. After all, as far back as 2005, while she was still working for Haim Saban’s Israel-protecting think tank, Wittes had written a critical piece on Hosni Mubarak entitled “Elections or no, he’s still Pharaoh,” in which she predicted that Egyptians would soon “start thinking, along with other Arabs, about hitting the streets.”