Youth Institute for Peace in the Middle East - excerpt from Lee O'Brien, American Jewish Organizations and Israel, 1986

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This page is an extract, reproduced with permission, from Lee O'Brien, American Jewish Organizations and Israel, Washington DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1986. [1]

  • Year established: 1968
  • Chairman: Carl Gershman
  • Executive Director: Kristeen A. Bruum
  • Address: 275 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10011
  • Publication: Crossroads

Background, Role and Structure

The Youth Institute for Peace in the Middle East (YIPME) was formed in 1974 as the successor to the Youth Committee for Peace and Democracy in the Middle East. In. a 1974 letter announcing YIPME's formation, its chairman, Carl Gershman, stated that ‘in our view Israel is in the midst of a long-term struggle for survival, and the continued understanding of her problems, especially by those who will be the future leaders of America, is essential.’ He announced that YIPME would be continuing the educational programs on Israel that had been conducted by the Youth Committee but pointed out ‘one big difference’-that YIPME's tax-exempt status as an educational organization, along with its tax, deductible contributions, should secure its financial situation. [2]

In a mass-mailing membership recruitment letter sent out in 1978, YIPME's executive director, Kristeen Bruum, urged young people to join YIPME because, in the face of threats to Israel such as ‘this administration's decision to sell more death-dealing jets to the Arabs’, the ‘horrible violence of the PLO’, and ‘declining American support’, ‘the institute's work among students and young workers is the single most effective effort on Israel's behalf today’.

Unlike many pro-Israel organizations in the United States, YIPME targets primarily non-Jewish youth among students and workers. YIPME's declared goals involve the development of educational programs that will sensitize young Americans ‘to the importance of democratic Israel's survival and the need to bring about true peace in the Middle East’, and Specifically:

  • To give young people an accurate understanding of the history of the ArabIsraeli conflict.
  • Emphasize the vital importance of preserving and extending democratic institutions in the Middle East.
  • Explain the nature of American interests in the Middle East and explore the kinds of policies that will further the cause of peace and democracy.
  • Arouse young people's awareness of the need to defend Israel's existence and work for genuine Arab-Israeli reconciliation.
  • Encourage understanding of the need to build coalitions to further support for democracy. [3]

Among the organizations that YIPME suggests it can work closely with are the Social Democrats, U.S.A., Black Americans to Support Israel Committee (whose director is Bayard Rustin), Frontlash, the League for Industrial Democracy, and ‘other liberal groups.’ This choice of coalition partners, along with the circumstances of its establishment and its sponsors, places it within the neoconservative cluster that is anti-Communist, anti-Soviet, and labor-dominated.'

Israel Support Work

YIPME's activities are intended to provide young people with what it considers to be an accurate presentation of the conflict in the Middle East. These include: seminars and briefings for ‘youth leadership education’ across the country; ‘action programs’, such as rallies, demonstrations, and petition drives; delegations to Israel aimed specifically at ‘promising American youth leaders,’ and leadership training workshops designed to educate about Israel, ‘the long and close friendship between Israel and American labor, and about the nuts and bolts of organizing.’ [3] In practice, YIPME's programs transmit the official Israeli point of view. During the invasion of Lebanon, for example, the Institute circulated materials prepared by the Israeli consulate in New York and simply blocked out the source identification on the front page. [4]


  1. This page is reproduced by permission of the Institute of Palestine Studies, granted on 25 February 2014. The Institute retains copyright of all material.
  2. Pennsylvania Jewish Life, July 1974 (letter to the editor): 17
  3. 3.0 3.1 YIPME, Democracy Challenged: Israel and the Struggle for Peace in the Middle East
  4. Lebanese Call for International Inquiry, 21 July 1982