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Are Google Ideas and the Israel Lobby “trying to do good things for the world”?

10 April 2012 7,262 views No Comment

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail. March 30, 2012 at 2:27 am.

Looking through who Google Ideas director Jared Cohen is following on Twitter, I came across this intriguing connection to the Israel lobby:

Scott Carpenter ‏@JSCarpenter11

Principal, @GoogleIdeas, where thinking and technology tackle the thorniest problems. Previously founder and director of Project Fikra @washinstitute.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) was created by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “to do AIPAC’s work but appear independent.” According to the think tank AIPAC built, Project Fikra is “a multiyear program of research, publication, and network-building designed to generate policy ideas for promoting positive change and countering the spread of extremism in the Middle East.” Or, as I have more accurately described the closely-related Fikra Forum, it’s basically “an Israeli forum for Arab democrats” surreptitiously pushing regime change in the Middle East.

In a June 23, 2011 op-ed column in the New York Times, Roger Cohen described Jared Cohen and Carpenter as “two former State Department guys now trying to do good things for the world through networks rather than diplomatic cables.” Omitting any reference to the latter’s work for the Israel lobby, Cohen continued:

J. Scott Carpenter, 46, who once held a senior Middle East job at the State Department and has just joined Google, told me: “In the Middle East you’ve had all these young people living free online and then coming to their stupid realities and seeing that the politics were not compatible with their online lives. And the two can only merge in one direction.”

Carpenter is working with Jared Cohen, who’s heading up a new unit called Google Ideas, after a stint at the State Department. Cohen, at 29, starts with the notion that technology is agnostic: It can be used in the cause of freedom — and has been to great effect from Tunis to Cairo — just as it can be used in the cause of repression. So how do you “tip the balance in favor of the net positive?”

With Wikileaks recent release of Stratfor emails confirming Jared Cohen’s involvement in regime change during the Arab Spring, it would be interesting to know if AIPAC/WINEP saw the resultant chaos and division as a continuation of Carpenter’s project of “promoting positive change and countering the spread of extremism in the Middle East.”

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