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Martin Kramer

Martin Seth Kramer (born September 9, 1954, Washington, D.C.) is an American-Israeli scholar of the Middle East at Shalem College in Jerusalem. His focus is on Islam and Arab politics.


  • Education 1
  • Career 2
  • Political involvement 3
  • Critique of Middle Eastern Studies 4
    • Ivory Towers on Sand 4.1
  • Palestinian aid controversy 5
  • Bibliography 6
    • Books 6.1
    • Journal Papers 6.2
    • Kramer on interpreters of the Middle East 6.3
    • Kramer on Key Middle Eastern Figures 6.4
    • Kramer on U.S. and Israeli Policy 6.5
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Kramer began his undergraduate degree under Itamar Rabinovich in Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University and completed his B.A. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. He earned his Ph.D. at Princeton as well, under Fouad Ajami, L. Carl Brown, the late Charles Issawi, and Bernard Lewis, who directed his thesis. He also received a History M.A. from Columbia University.[1]

  • Tel Aviv University, 1971-73 – Middle Eastern Studies
  • B.A. Princeton University, 1975 (summa cum laude) – Near Eastern Studies
  • M.A. Columbia University, 1976 – History
  • M.A. Princeton University, 1978 – Near Eastern Studies
  • Ph.D. Princeton University, 1982 – Near Eastern Studies[2]


Martin Kramer is the President of Shalem College in Jerusalem.[3]

During a 25-year career at Johns Hopkins University. He has served as a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. He is a past editor of the Middle East Forum's Middle East Quarterly.

Political involvement

Kramer was an early advocate of attacking Saddam Hussein in the wake of 9/11, arguing in December 2001 that regardless of a possible involvement, he posed a threat to the entire Middle East.[4] However, he was critical of the shifting rationale for the war in October 2002, questioning the United States' "tools of social engineering" needed to promote an eventual democracy process in the Arab world.[5]

He was a senior policy adviser on the Middle East to the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign in 2007.[6]

Critique of Middle Eastern Studies

Ivory Towers on Sand

In 2001, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published Kramer's book Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America.[7] In the book (as reported by the New York Times), Kramer argued that Middle East experts "failed to ask the right questions at the right time about Islam. They underestimated its impact in the 1980's; they misrepresented its role in the early 1990's; and they glossed over its growing potential for terrorism against America in the late 1990's." His critics claimed that “there is an agenda here, which is to discredit the entire Middle East establishment.”.[8]

Palestinian aid controversy

At the February 2010 Herzliya Conference in Israel, Kramer caused controversy in a speech in which he advocated cuts in what he termed "pro-natal subsidies" to Palestinians in Gaza as a means of discouraging population growth, thus curbing Islamic radicalization.[9][10] At the time, he was a National Security Studies Program Visiting Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, and some critics called on Harvard to distance itself from him. Deans at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs rejected these calls, stating, "Accusations have been made that Martin Kramer's statements are genocidal. These accusations are baseless." They found that Kramer's critics "appear not to understand the role of controversy in an academic setting" and rejected any attempts to restrict "fundamental academic freedom."[11]



  • Political Islam (1980) ISBN 0-8039-1435-0
  • Islam Assembled (1985) ISBN 0-231-05994-9
  • Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution (1987) ISBN 0-8133-0453-9
  • Hezbollah's Vision of the West (1989) ISBN 0-944029-01-9
  • Middle Eastern Lives: The Practice of Biography and Self-Narrative (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) (1991) ISBN 0-8156-2548-0
  • Arab Awakening and Islamic Revival: The Politics of Ideas in the Middle East (1996) ISBN 1-56000-272-7
  • The Islamism Debate (1997) ISBN 965-224-024-9
  • The Jewish Discovery of Islam (1999) ISBN 965-224-040-0
  • Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America (2001) ISBN 0-944029-49-3, download

Journal Papers

  • "The American Interest", Azure magazine, Autumn 2006.
  • "Nation and Assassination in the Middle East", Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2004.
  • "Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists?", Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2003.
  • "Policy and the Academy: An Illicit Relationship?", Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2003.

Kramer on interpreters of the Middle East

  • Pape-Kramer debate - a debate involving Robert Pape and Kramer
  • Suicide Terrorism in the Middle East: Origins and Response Robert Pape
  • Islam Obscured, Kramer on John Esposito
  • Stephen Walt's World, a critique of Stephen Walt
  • The Arab Nation of Shakib Arslan by Kramer, a critique of Shakib Arslan 31 October 1987
  • Albert Pasha: criticism of Albert Hourani by Kramer 15 June 2002
  • Islamist Bubbles, an assessment of Gilles Kepel.
  • Arab Pen, English Purse: John Sabunji and Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, a critique of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt by Kramer 31 December 1989
  • Ignatieff's Empire, criticism of Michael Ignatieff January 5, 2003
  • The Day the Rabbi Rescued Rashid, a critique of Arthur Hertzberg 28 February 2005

Kramer on Key Middle Eastern Figures

  • The Oracle of Hizbullah (Hezbollah): Sayyid Muhammad Husayn (Hussein) Fadlallah

Kramer on U.S. and Israeli Policy

  • What Do the Financial Crisis and US Middle East Policy Have in Common? December 2008.
  • Israel's Gaza Strategy January 2009.
  • Sanctioning "Resistance" January 2009.


  1. ^ Martin Kramer/Juan Cole: Oppo Research
  2. ^ Martin Kramer, CV and List of Publications
  3. ^ "Shalem College Executive Leadership"
  4. ^ From Afghanistan to Araby by Martin Kramer, National Review, December 10, 2001
  5. ^ When I Hear "Arab Democracy," I Reach for My Seat Belt by Martin Kramer, October 11, 2002
  6. ^ Rudy's Man in the Middle East, "New York Observer", August 21, 2007.
  7. ^ download
  8. ^ Middle East Experts Points Fingers at One Another, "New York Times", November 3, 2001.
  9. ^ Savarese, Katharine M. (2010-02-04). "Weatherhead Fellow Incites Controversy".  
  10. ^ "Harvard Fellow calls for genocidal measure to curb Palestinian births".  
  11. ^ Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (24 February 2010). "WCFIA at Harvard on accusations". Sandbox (blog). Retrieved 13 March 2010. 

External links

  • Martin Kramer's website
  • Martin Kramer's blog
  • Kramer's entry with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Kramer about Obama and the Middle East
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