The Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) was established in 1971. The original conception of MERIP was to provide information and analysis on the Middle East that would be picked up by the existing media. Issue number one of MERIP Reports, published in May 1971, was a six-page mimeographed publication with three brief articles. Throughout 1971 and 1972, the Report appeared irregularly, and it was only in 1973 that the group made a commitment to publish it on a regular basis. Since then, MERIP has never looked back and, in the words of French journalist Eric Rouleau, “No person, specializing or not in Middle Eastern affairs, can afford ignoring Middle East Report.” Professor Rashid Khalidi, a leading American scholar, says “Middle East Report is the best periodical (in English) on the Middle East — bar none.” MERIP is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Washington, DC. A completely independent organization, it has no links to any religious, educational or political organizations in the US or elsewhere. Income needed to produce the magazine is earned from subscriptions to Middle East Report, small grants from European and American foundations and gifts from readers and subscribers. By virtue of its tax status as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the US, MERIP is exempt from the payment of income taxes to the US federal government. Individuals who donate money to MERIP can deduct these gifts from their federal taxes to the extent allowed under the law.
Since 1996, MERIP has maintained one of the most informative websites on Middle East politics, culture and society. Tikkun magazine said of the website: “The tone is eminently professional…. The site’s simple (and small) layout is a pleasure to navigate.”
MERIP is governed by a board of five directors who reside throughout North America and serve three-year terms of office. They meet twice annually and provide managerial and financial guidance and oversight to MERIP’s professional staff. MERIP’s editorial committee, composed of twenty scholar-activists, meets three times annually to plan, with the editor, upcoming issues of Middle East Report. A three-person development committee advises the staff on financial matters. Board members and committee members serve voluntarily and are not compensated for their work.
About Middle East Report
Middle East Report provides news and perspectives about the Middle East not available from mainstream news sources. The magazine has developed a reputation for independent analysis of events and developments in the Middle East. Understanding of the Middle East in the United States and Europe is limited and plagued by stereotypes and misconceptions. MERIP successfully addresses these limitations by addressing a broad range of social, political and cultural issues, and by soliciting writings and views from authors from the Middle East not often read in the West. A leading diplomat, Mohamed Sahnoun (former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia) says, “Middle East Report‘s independent and well-informed coverage of issues of governance, social trends and economic development make is a unique resource for people who need to keep abreast with the situation in the Middle East…” Middle East Report does not hesitate to be critical of US foreign policy in the region and is respected for its independence. According to a leading analyst, Graham Fuller of the Rand Corporation, “Middle East Report is the single most valuable periodical I receive on Middle East affairs, offering a wealth of material unavailable elsewhere. This outstanding journal provides truly fresh, unconventional, insightful information and views that are still essential to my research even years after publication.” Middle East Report has thousands of subscribers, and a readership considerably enlarged by more than 700 subscriptions to university libraries and other institutions. Additional copies of the magazine are sold in bookstores and newsstands throughout the US and Europe. While the circulation of Middle East Report is limited in the Middle East, the magazine has developed a loyal following among prominent scholars and intellectuals from the region. Middle East Report is published four times a year, and most 48-page issues focus on a specific theme. The magazine serves as a resource for academic specialists but is also accessible to the general public. Many issues include “primers” which provide basic but essential background on a theme or a country. Every year, American university professors order back issues of Middle East Report to assign readings to their students. The electronic arm of the magazine, Middle East Report Online, provides timely analyses of breaking news stories, distributed via e-mail and archived at MERIP’s website.
Media Outreach and Public Education
MERIP also engages in media outreach and other types of public education. From 2006-2011, in cooperation with the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University and, later, the Watson Institute at Brown University, MERIP maintained Middle East Desk, an online gateway for journalists to progressive analysis and commentary on important Middle East stories. MERIP and its network of associates continue to provide the print and electronic media with interviews on a wide range of topics. Since the September 11 attacks focused world attention on the Middle East and US policy there, MERIP staff has handled thousands of calls from journalists from around the world. MERIP also has produced a substantial number of special educational materials. During the 1991 Gulf war, MERIP distributed thousands of primers on US-Saudi military relations and on the history of the Iraq-Kuwait conflict to high schools and colleges in the United States. MERIP has also posted on its website primers on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and a backgrounder on the US-led war in Iraq in 2003. MERIP continually responds to requests for information from students, churches, community organizers, librarians, journalists, scholars and teachers as well as business analysts and consultants.
In addition to these activities, MERIP and its network of associates are frequently able to respond to invitations to speak on both general and specialized topics. Finally, MERIP’s professional staff helps train college students and recent graduates interested in Middle East peace and justice issues through summer- and semester-long internships.