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RIP Barry Rubin: You Changed My Life and Your Ideas Will Change the World

My heart is broken. My teacher is dead. But his soul will live forever.

Dave Swindle


February 3, 2014 - 8:01 am


Sunday, posted on Barry Rubin’s Facebook page:

We felt it important to tell you that Barry has been in a coma since Friday. Thank you for all the warm wishes these past few months, you have all been very thoughtful. Please keep him in your prayers. We will keep you updated.

This morning:

To our great sadness, Barry passed away this morning. He was surrounded by his wife and children. Your love, support, and prayers have been greatly appreciated. There will be shiva and a funeral, details to follow soon.

I wrote about Barry’s impact on me this past August as part of a series of my most important intellectual influences:

Barry Rubin is PJ Media’s Middle East editor. For the last least three years, his Rubin Reports blog has served as the roadmap to the Middle East that I rely on the most. Written from the center of the storm in Israel, his typical columns are densely filled with facts and fascinating observations. Perhaps the crucial insight that I’ve gained from trying to keep up with Barry all these years — he tends to publish his loaded analyses very prolifically, not that I’m complaining! — is the depth of complexity to the Middle East. The game is not a chessboard between two sides, and there are rarely easy answers given that there are so many different actors on the field.

But Barry has gone out of his way, dedicated his life really, to trying to help people understand better the chaos in the Middle East. Recently he decided to GIVE AWAY 13 of his books. These titles of his are available in convenient online and downloadable PDF reading. It’s a lifetime’s worth of scholarship in the history and politics of the Middle East:

The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict

Assimilation and Its Discontents

Cauldron of Turmoil

Children of Dolhinov: Our Ancestors and Ourselves

Islamic Fundamentalism in Egyptian Politics

Istanbul Intrigues

The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East

Modern Dictators: Third World Coupmakers, Strongmen, and Populist Tyrants

Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran

Secrets of State: The State Department and the Struggle Over U.S. Foreign Policy

The Truth About Syria

Tragedy of the Middle East

(Barry describes this as his favorite of his books that he’s written. Thus it’s the next on my to-read list for him after the one I’ve already started, below.)

Hating America: A History

The first of this haul that I’ve decided to dive into is Hating America: A Historywhich Barry co-wrote with his wife (a practice Ron Radosh has also engaged in and which I hope to explore with my own wife someday).

As the above list of Barry’s titles shows, he jumps all over the place in trying to understand the many different angles of the Middle East. I confess: foreign policy was what dragged me into leftist activism and then fueled my shift to conservative activism, but it was Barry’s writing above all others that turned me into a full-blown foreign policy geek. Because of him I feel like I could pick up just about any book on a Middle Eastern country, culture or an individual and be interested and excited to learn from it. For that — and for much else — I’ve thanked him privately and now I do so publicly.

Before he died Barry completed two books that are set to be published this year. From Broadside Books on April 1, Adam Bellow’s extraordinary conservative imprint at HarperCollins (publisher of Ben Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda, Rich Lowry’s Lincoln Unbound, and Dennis Prager’s Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph), comes Barry’s history of ideology in 20th century America: Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural DominanceAnd from Yale University Press, out on February 25, Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East.

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My friend Jeff Dunetz at his blog Yid With Lid this morning wrote about how he was similarly taught and inspired by Barry:

Professor Barry Rubin, is more than one of the great intellectual defenders of Israel, he was my teacher and a friend. When we first met,  it was Barry who taught me to change from being a frothing at the mouth lunatic to a thoughtful commentator. He taught me to discern the quality of information coming from the trash.  In 2009 when I was leading the charge against Chas Freeman’s nomination to a key Obama National security spot, It was Barry Rubin giving me advice on future steps.

Barry was a consummate teacher.  When he first took Ill, he made all of his scholarly books available for free online because he wanted people to be able to learn from him even after he was gone.

You can read Barry’s last two PJ Media posts, from January 21, here:

Why the Arab/Muslim World Is Trapped

Imagine All the People Living in Islamist Hegemony: Why Lennon and Dylan Know All About Islamist Hegemony

Did you know Barry? Do you have any memories to share about how he or his words touched your life? Please send me an email: DaveSwindlePJM [@]

When I’m feeling less like a crushed tin can I’ll write about getting to know Barry over the years, how his writings changed the way I see the world, and how now that he’s gone I will continue to fight his battles for a world where Jew, Muslim, Christian, and people of all faiths live together peacefully in mutual respect and prosperity.

Updates: I’ll be linking to various reflections from colleagues. Here’s Patrick Poole at the PJ Tatler.

Updated 9:33 AM PST: Here’s PJM’s co-founder and editor emeritus Roger L. Simon: Barry Rubin: Conscience of the White City

Updated 12:11 PM PST: A really wonderful piece from Lee Smith at Tablet, hat tip to Yair RosenbergLearning from Barry Rubin, A Lifelong Teacher

Updated 3:20 PM PST: Sent along from David Gerstman, who says his own reflections are forthcoming:

Meryl Yourish
Elder of Ziyon
Israelly Cool (and follow the link to the Gettysburg story)
Phillip Smyth

Another follow up from Gerstman:


Here’s Barry’s Facebook page from his 01/28/2013 Birthday

A year and a week ago we all thought he was out of the woods.

Bookworm Room

Rick Moran at American Thinker

Updated 3:36 PST:

Ron Radosh: R.I.P.: Remembrances of My Friend Barry Rubin

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.

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All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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Baruch Dayan Emes. Barry’s articles where always particularly exciting to read. He was a true defender of Israel… he taught me SO MUCH! Thank G-d for Barry Rubin Z”L, and the wonderful mind he had to help us understand the inexplicable. To his beloved wife and family may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How awesome, reading all your eulogies, there´s nothing left for me to tell. What an experience Prof Barry effected in me and then ... us, and to that the uniformity ! How´s that? Though he´s gone, (too soon) I will content myself browsing, reading, referring to myriad of his self-made library. G_D bless to him who departed from us, and all the best, more power from Above to you all, Folks,
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yisgadal v'yiskadash, Barry. Someday again in Jerusalem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I posted this at Roger Simon's item, and am adding here, as you suggest. I interviewed Barry several times over the last two decades for assorted Israeli and international news outlets. As well, I often recommended him to colleagues who sought an erudite, clear and comprehensive voice on news and events in Israel and regionally - one that didn't subscribe to the stock middle east "blatherati" truisms. We were warm acquaintances, and, along with many other locally and abroad, rallied to his side during his battle with cancer. His untimely death is a loss to sharp, trenchant analysis and commentary on often bewildering events around here, and I will miss him as a friend. And, dammit, we never got together for that coffee and beer he invited me to on my next visit to Tel Aviv. May he rest in peace, and God comfort his family, together with all of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As one of the many thousands around the world who have read and appreciated the work of Professor Barry Rubin for many years I express my condolences to his family and loved ones.

Not only a mensch, in the finest sense of the word, his scholarship and insight truly changed the world today into a better place. He will be missed.

It is traditional in Judaism to give a gift of charity in memory of the departed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This should be on the front page. I am so sorry to hear this news. RIP Barry.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's on the front page now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, bud. He tried to serve as a warning voice and fight the good fight.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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