Martin Kramer

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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.


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 Tel Aviv University, Kramer directed the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies; taught as a visiting professor at Brandeis University, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, Georgetown University, and 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]



Journal Papers

Kramer on interpreters of the Middle East

Kramer on Key Middle Eastern Figures

Kramer on U.S. and Israeli Policy


External links