Dr. Reuven Paz (1950 – 2015) – Dr. Moshe Terdiman
With great sorrow I break the news that Dr. Reuven Paz passed away two days ago when he was only 64 years old.
I would like to write briefly about my personal experience with him in the last ten years. I came to know Reuven when I applied for a job in PRISM (Project for the Research of Islamist Movements) almost exactly ten years ago, in 2005. I worked there until 2008, when PRISM stopped its activity. During that time, I was exposed to his encyclopedic knowledge of everything concerning Islam, Muslims, Arabs, Arabic, radical Islam, Islamic thought, Palestinian groups, dream interpretations according to Islam, Islamic apocalyptic thought, etc. Reuven was an excellent researcher and a very well-known expert in these fields in Israel and abroad. He used to read the Jihadi forums sometimes 20 hours a day just, as he said, because it was interesting.
For me, Reuven was a mentor and a colleague. He taught me a lot about Jihadi and Islamic forums, websites, blogs and social networks in the internet and how they can be used as a very important, and sometimes even the sole, source of knowledge on radical Islamic groups. Reuven always encouraged me to think outside of the box and gave me an opportunity to develop new fields of research within PRISM. He was not afraid to start new projects, even if he was not an expert in them. Thus, we started the Islam in Africa Project and Islam in the Caribbean and Islamic social issues. At the end of the day, Reuven felt tired of dealing with radical Muslims and wanted to deal mainly with social issues within Islam.
Therefore, when I told Reuven about RIMA and asked him whether he would like to join, he immediately said yes. But, he had one condition. He wanted to conduct research only on social issues. So, Reuven was busy on a research concerning FGM among African Muslims, which was stopped, very unfortunately, by his death.
Reuven contributed a lot to RIMA. I consulted with him a lot and he, as always, was very happy to help where and when he could with a good advice or a connection or with whatever else I needed.
Reuven told me a few times that he regarded me as his “successor”, not in matters of his fields of expertise or his encyclopedic knowledge, but in his belief in my ability to conduct an excellent research in my fields of expertise and to develop new fields of research. I hope that I will be able to do a good enough job, even if not excellent, in both respects.
I would like to end with some personal words. Reuven, I will always be thankful for your help, encouragement and support. I will always remember it. For me, you and your excellent research will always be a model for emulation.
May you rest in peace.
Here is what Reuven wrote on himself in his bio as appears in the RIMA website.
Reuven Paz was born and grew up in Haifa, Israel. He graduated his academic education from Haifa University, in the fields of Arabic language and literature and Middle Eastern Studies, specializing on Islam and modern Islamic thought. Reuven Paz is fluent in written and spoken Arabic, and in Hebrew and English.
Since the early 1970s most of his studies, research, and fields of experience, focused on Islam, Islamic culture, Islamic radicalism, development of radical Islamic doctrines, all over the Arab and Muslim world, and Palestinian society and politics in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. His research combines thorough academic work with a long field experience in the Israeli security service.
In 1998, he was a visiting fellow in the Dayan Center in Tel-AvivUniversity and twice in 2000 and 2001, in The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C. Between 1989-1998 he lectured in the department of Middle Eastern Studies at Haifa University, on radical Islamic movements and Palestinian society. In 1997-2000 he was the academic director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in the InterdisciplinaryCenter in Herzliya, Israel.
In 2003, he founded the Project for the Research of Islamist Movements (PRISM –www.e-prism.org) in the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, which he directs. The project deals with developments of radical Islamic and Islamist movements in the social, cultural, ideological, and political fields; Finance of radical Islamist groups; Sponsoring of Islamic states to Islamist radicalism and terrorism; Islamic communities in the West; The “Culture of Global Jihad” and its attitude toward the Western civilization, Israel, and the Jews; Islamist networks; and support for radical Islam through the virtual global Jihad in the Internet. The focus of its research is on primary sources in Arabic, and the project wishes to fill some vacuum in the use of Arabic sources for the research of Islamist phenomenon. In 2006, PRISM has opened a special research project for radical Islam in Africa, and in 2007 a research project on Islamist social affairs, and radical Islam in Central and Latin America.
In 2013 he joined the newly founded research think-tank for the research of Islam and Muslims in Africa, founded and directed by Dr. Moshe Terdman. He will serve as the responsible for research on social Islamic issues in Africa.
Reuven Paz has published so far dozens of articles in the fields of Palestinian society and politics, and global radical and militant Islam. He gave 19 expert testimonies in the U.S., Canada, and European courts, in cases that involved terrorism. In the recent years he is working on a book about the “mindset of Global Jihadis”.
Web site – www.e-prism.org