Asher (Alan) Arian, 1938-2010

By Joel Migdal

July 2010

The Berman Jewish Policy Archive honors the memory of Asher Arian.

From Joel Migdal:

It pains me to report the passing of Asher Arian z”l. Asher was one of the fathers of social science in Israel. After moving to Israel in 1966, he became the founding chair of the Tel Aviv University Department of Political Science. Later, he served as Dean of Social Sciences at TAU, as well. In recent
years, he taught at both Haifa University and City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. He also served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, to which he brought the Guttman Institute for Applied Social Research (now, the Guttman Center).

The Guttman Center, in 2006, won the Tolerance Prize by the Public Committee of Tolerance, a nonpartisan organization to curtail violence. In 2005, Arian was awarded a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award by the Israel Political Science Association.

Asher was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1938. His undergraduate work was at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, and his graduate studies were at Michigan State University. As a researcher, he was one of the initiators of the use of survey research in Israeli political science. His books and articles on Israel spanned nearly half a century. His very first book was Empathy and Ideology: Aspects of Innovative Administration, published in 1966, and edited with Charles Press. He turned then almost exclusively to Israel studies (he did do a book on New York City politics in the 1990s, as well), publishing Ideological Change in Israel, in 1968. His most recent book was Elections in Israel, 2006, which appeared two years ago. The latter was one of a series of books edited by Arian (often with Michal Shamir) on the Israeli elections, starting with the 1973 elections. He also issued a series of reports on Israeli public opinion and national security. Other important books by Arian include Hopes and Fears of Israelis: Consensus in a New Society (with Aaron Antonovsky); The Choosing People: Voting Behavior in Israel; Politics in Israel:The Second Generation; Security Threatened: Surveying Israeli Opinion on Peace and War; National Security and Public Opinion in Israel; and Executive Governance in Israel (with David Nachmias, and Ruth Amir).

A founder and head of the Israeli Political Science Association, Arian was also a key leader in the International Political Science Association. He helped establish the place of Israeli political science in  the IPSA. Later, he served as editor of the Association’s prestigious book series.

He will be remembered by many for his mentorship and collegiality. A person of great wit and humor, he encouraged and guided a second generation of Israeli political scientists. I feel very fortunate to have been recruited by Asher for my first job, teaching in the young department at Tel Aviv University. Asher put together in that department a remarkable cadre of young researchers doing innovative and important work. Only a few years older than most of these recruits, Asher nurtured them and served as  senior figure for them, while still in his early thirties, guiding their way in the still raw atmosphere of  Israeli academia. For all, he was a true mensch.

Joel Migdal
July 8, 2010

Topic: Research

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Language: English

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Bibliographic Information:
Migdal, Joel. Asher (Alan) Arian, 1938-2010. July 2010:


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