The Stroum Center thanks Professor Joel Migdal for composing the following touching tribute to his recently passed good friend Professor Emeritus Gad Barzilai. Professor Barzilai was a passionate scholar, teacher and colleague who will be greatly missed. ברוך דיין האמת.
Gad Barzilai, Jan 11, 1958 — Apr 10, 2023
Professionally, Gadi was among the leading scholars in the field of law and society. With a background in both law and political science, he became the leading voice on the interplay of politics and law in Israel, especially issues pertaining to human rights. In 2022-23, he was president of the Israel Political Science Association. Previously, he had served as president of both the Association for Israel Studies and the Israel Law and Society Association.
In Israel, Gadi was also a leading public intellectual. This year, 2023, he emerged as a prominent voice on Israeli television and radio, analyzing (and decrying) the proposed changes in Israel’s judicial system. He was passionate about Israel and was genuinely upset by the multiple changes proposed by the new right-wing government, fearing for the future of Israeli democracy.
Gadi was also a true mensch. Both at the UW and Haifa University, he drew people to him through his interest in them. He mentored multiple students, and together we served on a number of graduate committees. His funeral, not surprisingly, was a huge event with hundreds of people attending—colleagues, students, friends, and family. Almost every conversation with Gadi started with a report on his two sons, Daniel and Ari, to whom he was extremely devoted.
יהי זכרו ברוך—May his memory be for a blessing.
Sad to learn of Gad’s death. A beautiful tribute from Joel.