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Ron Radosh

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

February 3rd, 2014 - 1:54 pm

The loss of a friend comes hard to all of us, and Barry Rubin was a friend, whom I always knew was there to discuss the issues that were of mutual concern to us. PJM readers know him well as our Middle East editor, a man who traveled the world and wrote candidly and frankly about the hard truths others always seemed to avoid.

His importance to those who followed the Middle East was made clear today in a statement issued by Dr. Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Barry, Satloff stated, “was a brilliant scholar who was passionately committed to the pursuit of truth. He brought this determination to his fight against cancer. His death is a loss to the broader community of Middle East scholars.”

The Institute website provides a list with links to many of the articles Barry wrote for them and other outlets.

I suspect I knew Barry the longest of anyone at PJ Media. A decade older than him, I first met him when he and I were both men of the Left. He had just graduated college. Few know that back then Barry was hard left — as left as they come. At the time, he was foreign editor of a now defunct weekly newspaper, The Guardian, which had transformed from a vehicle of the pro-Communist Left to a newspaper of the most radical elements of the New Left, and of the pro-Maoist and most Stalinist elements that came from the ranks of the old Communist Party, U.S.A. Barry had become its foreign correspondent.

I suspect that experience is what gave him the personal insight for his new book – Silent Revolution, about the American Left’s rise to power — that will be posthumously published in May. Readers will find out that Barry’s expertise went far beyond that of understanding the Middle East. I know from the many discussions I had with him over the years about the Left in America that he had a lot to say especially on this topic.

When he was working for The Guardian, Barry — like the rest of the New Left — was enthusiastic about Cuba. So as I was sitting in the waiting room of Cubana Airlines at their Mexico City terminal in the summer of 1975, waiting to board the flight to Cuba, coming out of the plane was none other than Barry! “You’ll love Cuba!”, he shouted as he ran over to me. “You’ll see how Castro is building a new socialist country right in our own backyard.” He sat me down with tips galore about what to see and whom to talk to.

Years later, both of us would laugh about how as young men we had been taken in, and how the full realization of what a prison Cuba was for its people under the rule of Fidel Castro and his henchmen had helped move us far, far away from that Left we once were part of.

That experience also led Barry to report on the wars in Central America during the Reagan years. With my friend Robert S. Leiken, Barry co-edited an important volume, The Central American Crisis Reader. The book collected and presented the most important articles helping to explain what, at the time, seemed like the possible triumph of communist revolutions throughout the region. It also offered policy alternatives for how the United States should deal with the region. The book still stands as an important document for those wishing to comprehend how important Central America was in that period.

I saw Barry most often during his long stays in Washington, D.C., where he kept his mother’s old home and stayed when he was here. I would meet him often at the P.F. Chang’s in Rockville, Maryland, where we would have a relaxed meal of Chinese food and talk. When he was writing his biography of Yasser Arafat, Barry brought with him copies of documents and material he had uncovered that he would use in the book. Spreading them out on the restaurant table, he had me read the most revealing ones. I recall it was a long time before we ordered any food.

We shared a love of bluegrass music. My wife and I joined Barry, his wife Judith, and their children at the outdoors Strathmore concert series to hear the well-known local D.C. bluegrass masters Seldom Scene. Barry had first introduced me to his wife Judith Colp Rubin after they got married, when we both still lived in New York City.

And of course, Barry was an avid Civil War buff. As readers know, he regularly donned his uniform and participated, as he did last summer with re-enacters of the battle at Gettysburg during the camp set-up for the 150th anniversary event. Although he had recently gotten through his first bout with cancer, he went and took part in the blazing heat, wearing the heavy garments. To Barry, always one part American and one part Israeli, recognizing the importance of the Civil War and paying homage to those who fought and died in it was a great part of understanding the country of his birth.

I cannot believe Barry is no longer with us. Just two weeks ago I received a few e-mails from him, commenting on some of my PJM columns and offering his thoughts on the topics I was writing about. When he told me of his new book on the Left, I promised him to review it, a promise I will keep.

Barry Rubin is gone, but his friends and readers all over the world will continue to read his books and articles, learning from them as they did weekly from his reports for the institute he built in Israel, and from his columns in PJ Media. His loss is a great one, and there are few who can fill his shoes. R.I.P.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Mr. Radosh,
I’m blessed to have known Professor Rubin these last few years of his life through our mutual interest in the American Civil War. My son and I were so fortunate to spend many hours in camp with Barry and his son Daniel at Civil War re-enactments. They are members of our unit, Company “B”, 3rd United States Infantry Regiment.

Our discussions were stimulating from the onset and I became an avid reader of his Rubin Reports blog and books on the Middle East. I remember being delighted when he told of his blog articles being picked up on PJ Media, knowing they would inform an even larger audience. My son is the Legislative Affairs Manager at FreedomWorks and he and Barry conversed a lot during the re-enactments since they shared many similar interests. Barry generously shared his wealth of knowledge about his work in D.C.

We did talk sometime later about his youthful advocacy of leftist governance and his changing views over time in the face of pragmatic evidence. I was intrigued by this admission since I had come to know him as such a passionate advocate for the founding principles of individual liberty and limited central governance of the American Constitutional Republic. Maybe partly from our camp conversations, I’ll never know as I didn’t ask, he did seem to write more about how his early life’s study and following of “classical liberalism” conflicted with the harmful societal outcomes produced by the, as you said, “New Left”. His change in view seemed to me similar to that of Professor Thomas Sowell and others narratives formerly from the “Left” I’ve read (some here on PJ Media). As his readers know, Barry was very concerned about the Left’s political and cultural ascension in American subverting and redefining the Republic’s founding principles of governance and Judeo-Christian ethos… and of course, the subsequent changes in foreign policy affecting Israel and the Middle East. I do look forward to the release of his new books, Silent Revolution in particular, but will miss very much not being able to chat with him about them.

Like me, Barry’s journey into re-enacting was an extension of his interest in history and the poignant storylines of the American Civil War in particular. We often conversed about human nature and compared/contrasted events of history to “modern” times. He sought a glimpse into what the ordinary soldier of the time experienced… though I reveal with a reminiscing grin as I write this that Barry in Company Drill had “two left feet”, but he was not deterred. Like me, he was expressly proud to share the involvement in the hobby together with his son. I sense that the study of the Civil War inspired in Barry an optimism that the Republic had endured immense internal political and cultural strife in the past and had nevertheless endured. We deliberated on why that may or may not be the case in the future… but that dialog is a longer story.

At 150th Gettysburg, he and I talked about the cancer, hospitalization, and a miraculous remission from near death. Though frailer than I had last seen him, I was amazed he was even out there with us in the July heat. God accorded him more time to do a few more things and touch a few more lives… and he did just that. I had hoped to one day visit him in Israel… oh the might have, should haves of time. I’m saddened by his passing… I will miss him around the campfire and in many other ways.

My Condolences to his family,

Brian Withrow
Corporal, 3rd US Inf. Co “B” Re-enactors
Army of the Potomac, Middle Division
Guidon Bearer
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you, Ron. A giant of a man. He will be missed tremendously.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Your eulogy is profoundly consoling and thank you so much. The writings of Prof Rubin draw my attention and fondness, and I, being devoid of recent, significant knowledge of the center of turmoil in man's history, the Near/MiddleEast is a region which must be acquainted with by laypeople such as I. To that, I gained substantial informations from his blogs and books. Understanding the conflict of the region guided me into a factual-based opinion, and parallel to Biblical prophesies, I can relate to his judgments, and agreeing with him is effortless, which I may say, Yes, his observations, researches and conclusions are also ''...written ...'' I do miss him and his daily blogs which formed part of my day. As I bless The ONE above, I wish you great blessings as well from HIM.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Radosh,
I’m blessed to have known Professor Rubin these last few years of his life through our mutual interest in the American Civil War. My son and I were so fortunate to spend many hours in camp with Barry and his son Daniel at Civil War re-enactments. They are members of our unit, Company “B”, 3rd United States Infantry Regiment.

Our discussions were stimulating from the onset and I became an avid reader of his Rubin Reports blog and books on the Middle East. I remember being delighted when he told of his blog articles being picked up on PJ Media, knowing they would inform an even larger audience. My son is the Legislative Affairs Manager at FreedomWorks and he and Barry conversed a lot during the re-enactments since they shared many similar interests. Barry generously shared his wealth of knowledge about his work in D.C.

We did talk sometime later about his youthful advocacy of leftist governance and his changing views over time in the face of pragmatic evidence. I was intrigued by this admission since I had come to know him as such a passionate advocate for the founding principles of individual liberty and limited central governance of the American Constitutional Republic. Maybe partly from our camp conversations, I’ll never know as I didn’t ask, he did seem to write more about how his early life’s study and following of “classical liberalism” conflicted with the harmful societal outcomes produced by the, as you said, “New Left”. His change in view seemed to me similar to that of Professor Thomas Sowell and others narratives formerly from the “Left” I’ve read (some here on PJ Media). As his readers know, Barry was very concerned about the Left’s political and cultural ascension in American subverting and redefining the Republic’s founding principles of governance and Judeo-Christian ethos… and of course, the subsequent changes in foreign policy affecting Israel and the Middle East. I do look forward to the release of his new books, Silent Revolution in particular, but will miss very much not being able to chat with him about them.

Like me, Barry’s journey into re-enacting was an extension of his interest in history and the poignant storylines of the American Civil War in particular. We often conversed about human nature and compared/contrasted events of history to “modern” times. He sought a glimpse into what the ordinary soldier of the time experienced… though I reveal with a reminiscing grin as I write this that Barry in Company Drill had “two left feet”, but he was not deterred. Like me, he was expressly proud to share the involvement in the hobby together with his son. I sense that the study of the Civil War inspired in Barry an optimism that the Republic had endured immense internal political and cultural strife in the past and had nevertheless endured. We deliberated on why that may or may not be the case in the future… but that dialog is a longer story.

At 150th Gettysburg, he and I talked about the cancer, hospitalization, and a miraculous remission from near death. Though frailer than I had last seen him, I was amazed he was even out there with us in the July heat. God accorded him more time to do a few more things and touch a few more lives… and he did just that. I had hoped to one day visit him in Israel… oh the might have, should haves of time. I’m saddened by his passing… I will miss him around the campfire and in many other ways.

My Condolences to his family,

Brian Withrow
Corporal, 3rd US Inf. Co “B” Re-enactors
Army of the Potomac, Middle Division
Guidon Bearer
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for sharing Dr Rubin's past ideological proclivities...it suggests that he, over time, assessed for himself and saw how the left had deceived many (including him) with talk of "social justice" just as the Bolsheviks et al did. Then he bravely reversed course and found the truth, as painful and horrific as it may be.RIP.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Thank you for this remembrance, Mr. Radosh.
I will be looking out for Barry Rubin's book --- and for your promised review.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for this post. I've recorded my thoughts about Barry Rubin on the other posts and will only repeat here that he was a brave mensch.

it would be interesting to read how he came to make aliyah (a Jew moving to Israel) , in some ways an even more remarkable journey than his trek from the Left.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a shock. Yehi zikhro baruch
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Than k you for telling us about this man. As you and others have said, his tremendously valuable work will be sorely missed. There is no one who knew more about the Middle East and its intersection with American politics. A great loss of a remarkable man.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a wonderful testimonial, thank you. I always enjoyed Mr. Rubin's columns here at PJ but had no idea of his rich life. Thank you.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry to hear this sad news. I enjoyed reading his articles in PJ Media. Barry Rubin had great insight and will be missed.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, my, no. That's very, very sad news.

Boruch Dayan Emes.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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