Rita Hauser, International Lawyer and Advocate for Peace in the Middle East

Rita Hauser

Donor Profile Rita Hauser

Rita Hauser is an international lawyer and philanthropist who, in 1988, met with Yasser Arafat to persuade him to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Eleven years later, Hauser joined the RAND Board of Trustees. Her commitment to peace, diplomacy, and humanitarian efforts continue to drive her current work as the president of the Hauser Foundation, as the chair of the International Peace Institute, and as a member of the advisory board of the International Crisis Group.


Before Hauser ever met with Arafat, she traveled to Israel as a representative to the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Legal Committee. It was 1967, right after the Six-Day War. The visit left a deep impression—as did all the books she read on the history of the conflict, provided to her by Golda Meir, Israel's fourth prime minister and Hauser's mentor.

Hauser also spent time in Palestinian refugee camps. As she says, “There were refugee camps all over the place—the heart of the leftover of the war of 1948.”

Her interest in the experiences of Israelis and Palestinians led to her appointment as head of the American branch of the International Center for Peace in the Middle East (1984–1991).

Hauser helped establish the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy advisory board. More recently, she helped fund RAND's Strategic Rethink project; one of its leaders is her longtime friend Richard Solomon, a senior fellow at RAND.

According to Solomon, “Rita's lifelong interest in international affairs is combined with an intense determination to encourage 'out of the box' thinking on almost any significant issue in foreign policy. This is evident in her support for Strategic Rethink. She sees how the world is changing, and wants RAND to be a creative voice as our country reconsiders its role in the world.”

While no longer on the board, Hauser remains a committed supporter. “I'm very high on RAND,” she says. “The other think tanks are on the left or the right; there are very few that truly embrace objectivity as a core value, as does RAND.”

When asked what keeps her going, after so many years of setbacks in the Middle East and globally, Hauser says, “I'm an optimistic person. You find some answers to problems. You just can't throw up your hands and say there are none.”

Hauser has served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (1969–1972), as a member of the United States delegation to the twenty-fourth U.N. General Assembly, as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (2001–2004), and as a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (2009–2013).