Crown Center for Middle East Studies

The Crown Center for Middle East Studies Announces New Raymond Frankel Chair in Israeli Politics and Society

Funded by a generous gift from the Raymond Frankel Foundation, the chair’s incumbent will be the Crown Center’s founding director, Shai Feldman.

The Crown Center for Middle East Studies is pleased to announce that the Raymond Frankel Foundation has made a generous gift of $3 million to the center to establish the Raymond Frankel Chair in Israeli Politics and Society. Shai Feldman, the founding director of the Crown Center, will serve as the first Frankel chair-holder.

Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz shared his enthusiasm about the gift and Feldman’s appointment. “We are deeply grateful to the Frankel Foundation for its visionary support of the Crown Center,” he said. “The foundation’s generous gift ensures that the center can sustain its mission as a leader in the study of the Middle East and further deepen the role of Israeli politics and society in that study. This moment in the center’s evolution is yet more meaningful with Shai Feldman assuming the Frankel Chair. We are fortunate that the initial holder of the Chair will be Shai, a widely venerated scholar of Middle East politics and peacemaking at a time when the political landscape of the region is undergoing such change following the Abraham Accords.”

The Crown Center conducts balanced and dispassionate research of the modern Middle East at the pinnacle academic standards in order to help decision- and opinion-makers to be better informed about the region. The center’s research spans the 22 members of the Arab League as well as Turkey, Iran and Israel, with a multi-disciplinary approach in its study of the politics, economics, history, security, sociology and anthropology of the region’s states and societies.

Gary Samore, who became the Center’s Crown Family Director in September of 2019, is delighted at this exciting news: “This generous gift will elevate and expand the critical scholarship produced at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, and we are delighted that Shai will be assuming the chair. He is a singularly astute observer and analyst of Israeli history, policy, and politics, and earlier in his career, he has directed the world-class Jaffee Center (since renamed the Institute for National Security Studies — INSS), Israel's foremost think-tank in defense affairs.”

Prior to assuming the Raymond Frankel Chair in Israeli Politics and Society at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Feldman most recently served as president of Sapir Academic College in Sha'ar Hanegev, Israel. He is a fellow of the Royal United Services Institute in London. Prior to founding the Crown Center, Feldman served on the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and was head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. He has authored and co-authored numerous books, including “Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East,” with Abdel Monem Said Aly and Khalil Shikaki — the first-ever university textbook on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict to have been co-authored by an Israeli, a Palestinian and an Egyptian, presenting a broad Arab perspective.

Brandeis University is especially appreciative of Belinda Frankel, president of the Raymond
Frankel Foundation and daughter of its founder, and Allan Myer, who serves as the
representative member of the Frankel Foundation on the Crown Center’s advisory board, for
their key roles in helping to propel this remarkable gift.

“Our family could not be more proud in knowing that our father’s name will forever be linked with the Crown Center and Brandeis University in such an important way,” says Frankel. “The Frankel Chair in Israeli Politics and Society connects my father’s life-long passion for scholarship, Israel’s well-being, and deep thinking in matters of national security in countless ways that will greatly benefit students and scholars for many years to come.”

Professor Feldman will assume the Frankel Chair on September 1.