I was very sad to hear this morning of the passing of our friend and PJ Media contributor Barry Rubin following a 17 month battle with cancer. I know for many of us our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
It has truly been a privilege to call Barry a colleague, a mentor and a friend. When Barry was living in the U.S. several years ago, we would have lunch together every time I was in D.C. at his favorite Chinese restaurant in Bethesda. Always generous with his time, we would have lengthy conversations about recent Middle East events over cashew chicken. Even at the time I would marvel at how much I would learn from those lunch discussions.
After his return to Israel, we would keep in touch by email, with Barry regularly offering encouragement and advice for whatever endeavor I happened to be working on at the time. We would find time to meet whenever he was in the States on a speaking tour or for a conference.
Then came the cancer diagnosis. That notwithstanding, Barry continued with his work.
This past July, Barry and his son served as reenactors at the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. I brought a group of friends, mostly reporters and Hill staff, up for the day. Finding Barry amidst thousands of blue-garbed reenactors was like finding a specific needle in a stack of needles, but find him we did. Again, always generous with his time, he plopped down under a tree and gave us an impromptu half-hour briefing of what was happening in Egypt (Morsi had been removed from office the day before) and how it would play out in the Middle East.
I was fortunate enough to see Barry again in September while I was in Israel. I arrived at the Rubins’ apartment in Tel Aviv literally just moments after they had received devastating news that the cancer had advanced. It would have been understandable if they had cancelled plans for the evening. And yet Barry was undeterred, and we walked to a cafe nearby where we had a very candid and personal conversation about mortality. He expressed concern for the care of his family and how much they meant to him.
It was a pleasant surprise a week later as I was beginning to tour Yad Vashem in Jerusalem when I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to see Barry and his family. We walked together though the museum until Barry grew tired. We met later for dinner, and his wife Judy and son Daniel were gracious as I occupied Barry’s time with shop-talk. That was the last time I saw him.
It is impossible to measure how much PJ Media and its readers have benefited from Barry’s insights and how the world will continue to benefit from his whole body of work (with books by and edited by Barry still forthcoming). I know that over the next few days others who knew Barry better and longer will offer more substantial remembrances. But as I get ready for this cold, rainy day in Washington, D.C. I will be thinking today about my colleague, mentor and friend; the kindness, forbearance, graciousness and wisdom he was always willing to impart to me; and offering prayers of comfort for his family.
May his memory be a blessing.