Barry Rubin: Personal Reflections
Some of us have known Barry for many years, others had only a passing acquaintance.
Still, he has touched our lives in many ways, as a friend, colleague and editor.
Barry was not only a prolific scholar and analyst but one of the most erudite persons around. Whether it was a quote from Mark Twain, Shakespeare or Bob Dylan, he managed to bring to his commentaries a unique perspective and a wit, seldom seen in the field of Middle East studies.
In spite of his numerous commitments he was generous with his time, especially as the editor of The Middle East Review of International Affairs which became one of the premier journals in the discipline.
His writings have guided all of us, along an entire generation of scholars; his towering intellect would be sorely missed.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
IAM Editorial Team
Times of Israel
Barry Rubin, Middle East scholar, dies at 64
Author and commentator on regional issues, often consulted by international media, passes away after long bout with cancer
February 3, 2014,
Professor Barry Rubin, columnist and well-known expert on terrorism and Middle East affairs, passed away on Monday morning after a long bout with cancer at the age of 64.
The US-born Rubin, who was director of the Global Research for International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, also served as editor of both the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal and the Turkish Studies journal.
Rubin was frequently interviewed by international television media for his expertise on Middle Eastern politics and terrorism, and wrote numerous articles for newspapers around the world.
“To our great sadness, Barry Rubin passed away this morning,” a notice from Rubin’s family related on his Facebook page. “He was surrounded by his wife and children. Your love, support, and prayers have been greatly appreciated.”
Rubin wrote several books defending Israel’s position in the political struggles of the Middle East, including “The Israel-Arab Reader,” “The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East,” and “The Truth About Syria.” His most recent book, “Israel: An Introduction,” was recently published by Yale University Press.
Learning from Barry Rubin, A Lifelong Teacher
The writer, whose new book was reviewed in Tablet today, died last night at 64
This morning Tablet reviewed Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, a new book by Barry Rubin and Wolfgang Schwanitz. Although it’s a challenging and critical take, it’s also, I’d argue, precisely the sort of engagement with his work that Barry most relished, a real debate, an argument with ideas, history, and the future and real lives at stake. Sadly, Barry is not around to partake in it. He died last night at the age of 64 after an 18-month struggle with cancer.
Barry was my friend and teacher, a role I suspect that—after husband to his wonderful wife Judy and father to his two spectacular children, Gabriella and Daniel—he relished above all others, including that of author, analyst, and historian. He wrote dozens of books focusing on the Middle East, from Israel and Turkey to Egypt and Iran, as well as other subjects, and used his deep historical knowledge of the region to analyze and explain current phenomena, but I think it was teaching that truly moved him. He was expansive. Like most of his pupils, I never studied with him formally at any of the American or Israeli universities he taught at over the years. Rather, learning from Barry was through phone conversations, or email, or best yet over a meal or a bottle of wine at his home in Tel Aviv or his other home in Washington or some small café or restaurant when he’d start some conversation on the Middle East lamenting not only the state of affairs but also the popular understanding of the state of affairs. It was important to get it right because there was a lot at stake—like the lives of real people, not just Israelis but Arabs as well, and millions of other Middle Easterners.
Therefore, Barry had friends and students around the region, Arabs and Israelis, Turks and Iranians, and all of the countless minorities that compose the modern Middle East, which was not only the focus of his work but also his home, an often hard place. But Barry was open to and curious about difficult things. He loved model trains, and part of his collection filled the first floor of his home in Tel Aviv. He loved the American south and frequently visited there to participate in historical re-enactments of the Civil War. He loved Israel and being Israeli. He also loved the United States, but was worried for us that we were losing something, our seriousness maybe. He loved Washington, too, where he was born and where he’d lived and worked for years on Capitol Hill before making aliyah. He showed me around the neighborhood I lived in, the neighborhood he grew up in, and unfolded its untold history, which was his way.
He was expansive, which is to say that Barry was a student, too. He revered his teachers, the great elders who’d preceded him, like Walter Laqueur, and the generations destined to follow, the students he’d learned from—or perhaps just forgotten he’d taught. One insight from a student, one knock on the door of wisdom, and Barry’s eyes light up, his mouth opens in an expression of near astonishment. “You’re right,” Barry would say. “You are absolutely right.” But you taught me that, Barry—the student would reply. “You have a good memory,” he’d respond.
It was all one coherent whole for Barry Rubin, history and the future, the generations past and those coming, which is to say that our teacher and friend who died yesterday will never wholly die.