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Israelis You Should Know: Robert Wistrich

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Name: Robert Wistrich

Life: April 7, 1945 – May 19, 2015

Known for: Wistrich was declared "the leading scholar in the field of anti-Semitism study" by The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism in 2011.

About him: Although Robert Wistrich was born in 1945 in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (what is today the Republic of Kazakhstan), he primarily grew up in England, where his family moved when he was a young boy. Here, he won a scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he went on to earn his master's degree in 1969, followed by a doctorate at the University of London in 1974. He did a year of his studies in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he became the youngest-ever literary editor of New Outlook, a monthly publication.

After completing his studies, Wistrich initially worked in London as the director of research at the Institute of Contemporary History and the Wiener Library, which was at the time the largest research library on the Third Reich existing in Europe. He then began teaching at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was given tenure at the university in 1982.

While teaching, Wistrich also wrote many important and well-received books on anti-Semitism. Some of his most famous works include Socialism and the Jews, which received the American Jewish Committee award, and The Longest Hatred, which won the H.H. Wingate Prize for nonfiction in the U.K. and was the basis for a documentary that Wistrich wrote.

He was one of six scholars who sat on the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission from 1999 to 2001, and in 2002, he was named the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.

Wistrich passed away earlier this week from a heart attack in Rome, Italy.

In remembrance: “His untimely death leaves a gaping hole in the ranks of the fearless few who took on the haters and outed them.” - Alan Schneider, director of B’nai B’rith World Center

His passing is “a tragic loss to his family as well to the entire Jewish community and to all those engaged in the efforts to counter resurgent anti-Semitism. He always backed his assertions with in-depth research and factual substantiation. His voice will be sorely missed." - Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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