An important voice for sanity and realism in analyzing and reporting on the Middle East died two days ago. I had known Dr. Rubin for several years, inviting him to lecture my classes at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
The particulars about him can be found at his blog spot that I follow very closely. Hopefully it will be carried on by his associates.
Dr. Rubin had been fighting cancer for 18 months, writing his column and articles for various media outlets right up to the end. He was an unorthodox and original thinker… a partisan of Israel but not blindly, and, most of all, a believer in America, the country of his birth. He was proud of America and also proud of his Jewish heritage. He had written a book on his quest for the roots of the Rubin family, originally from Poland. See “Childern of Dolhinov: Our Ancestors and Ourselves”.
His most recent book is a provocative look at the influence of Mufti Amin al-Husaini, the grand Mufti of Palestine, arguing that the Mufti influenced Hitler, ultimately leading to the resulting Holocaust. Despite strong skepticism by many critics at this suggestion, Dr. Rubin does put the spotlight on the deep Nazi ties to a number of Arab leaders, including Anwar Sadat. See “Did Zionism Cause the Holocaust? A New Biography Says Yes”.
Moreover, and of importance to me, he was an admirer of the US Army and our soldiers. He very much enjoyed discussions with the young Special Operations officers preparing for assignments to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Dr. Rubin was a prolific writer, having written or edited over one hundred books, including a few in which I was asked to write chapters. (Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East, 2009, and Armed Forces in the Middle East, 2002) I also wrote an article for his online periodical, MERIA. (Western Influence of Arab Militaries: Pounding Square Pegs into Round Holes.)
For someone like me, a non-PHD, not attached to any think tank, and particularly because my views of the Middle East and its cultural and political trends are not welcomed in most Middle East academic circles, the opportunity to write in a journal or book is rare. People like me owe Barry a debt of gratitude. Despite my long and wide experience in the Arab world, dwarfing that of most who write about the Middle East, one must fit into a mold or conform to the pack academic thinking of the day to be accepted. Having written two forwards for the routinely castigated The Arab Mind, still by far the best book on Arab culture in the English language, I would naturally be considered outside the academic reservation.
Barry’s opinion of Middle East academia mirrored mine. Most are leftwing knee – jerk propagandists like Juan Cole, and the Edward Said cultists, who have not had an original thought in years. Never have so many been so wrong so often. They write incomprehensible turgid tomes on esoteric subjects that are generally never read, even by those who review them. Students in many of these centers of learning are more indoctrinated than educated. If they are smart and want decent grades, their theses must conform to leftish norms. The more recent radical political correctness has further diminished the worth of academia on Middle Eastern learning.
So we have lost a critical voice for reason and common sense, always put forth with humor and a vast humanistic knowledge, in an era of US policies in the Middle East being conducted by incompetent and largely ignorant self-appointed egotists totally out of touch with reality, e.g. Iranian nuclear talks, and a solution to the Palestinian issue.
We have lost a great thinker at a very critical time.