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Uzi Rubin

Uzi Rubin

Uzi Rubin



Meet PhD candidate Uzi Rubin, 81, the legendary "father of Israeli missile defense," a PhD candidate at Bar-Ilan University's Department of Political Studies and a senior research associate at BIU's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA).

Rubin, who spearheaded the development of Israel's cutting-edge Arrow weapon system, has devoted much of his career to safeguarding Israeli national security. Now, as a BIU doctoral student in his golden years, he has taken a step back to chronicle and reassess Israeli missile defense policy after decades of service in the Israel Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the Israel National Security Council.

A father of 4 and grandfather of 16, Rubin was born in Tel Aviv in 1937 to Polish Zionist immigrants. Rubin witnessed the State's founding in 1948 and served in an Israel Defense Forces anti-tank missile unit during the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. He holds a BSc from the Technion and a master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY). He says it's interesting to write a dissertation after accruing life experience in the field.

Rubin's dissertation, "The Flexibility of the Israeli Defense Establishment in a Changing Strategic Situation: Missile Defense as a Test Case", explores decision-making and the often conflicting views of the Ministry of Defense and the IDF from the 1950s and on. Having conducted some 50 interviews with Israel's top brass, Rubin includes telling insights from former Chiefs of Staff, prime ministers, defense ministers and other leading figures.

He anticipates that his comprehensive study, which has been submitted for academic review, will provide a solid basis for other researchers' quests. "This is my legacy in the academic world – my contribution to the State of Israel," says Rubin, who won the prestigious Israel Defense Prize twice. "After obtaining a PhD, my next project is writing my memoirs."

Rubin was tapped in the 1980s by the late Yitzchak Rabin, then Israeli defense minister and later Prime Minister, to lead the Israeli office of cooperation with the Pentagon's Strategic Defense Initiative of US President Ronald Reagan. That's when Rubin launched an extensive research effort that would eventually yield the Arrow missile. In the early 1990s Moshe Arens, who then served as defense minister, appointed Rubin as founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Ministry of Defense. Rubin also served as Senior Director for Proliferation and Technology in the Israel National Security Council, and was a visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for International Security and Arms Control. Since retiring from Israel's MOD at the end of 2002, he has been heading his own defense technology consultancy, Rubincon Ltd.

Relating to the BIU experience, the accomplished engineer/manager says, "I enjoy it tremendously. Political Studies is a new world for me. I derive much intellectual stimulation from my intriguing courses. I'm sad it's coming to a close." The octogenarian adds: "My fellow BIU students are very friendly, and take me in stride. I don't publicize myself but there are some who know me." As to the BIU grounds, he relays, "I love this campus and its homey ambiance, with students from diverse backgrounds conversing and making music."

Looking back on his vital role in designing effective defensive systems for the State of Israel, BIU's PhD candidate Uzi Rubin reflects: "I can say that I did my part, that I did not disappoint my parents who left their comfortable homes back in Europe, and came here to build an independent state for the Jewish people. I have "nachat" from what I did, but wish I could’ve done more. There were moments when I felt I was on a mission."

Last modified: 06/03/2019