It is thirty days, filled with deep sorrow and pain, since our colleague Professor Gideon Doron passed away before his time, and we are here tonight to remember him, talk about the man, our friend, our teacher, our mentor, our spiritual father, and his work. Much has been, and will certainly be, said about Gideon, a man infused with curiosity and creativity, a professor who mentored generations of students, researchers and teachers in academia both at home and abroad.
I am greatly privileged to have been given the chance, as Director General of the Israel Political Science Association, to speak briefly of Gideon. I wish to note, at this important occasion, my personal friendship with Gideon, my spiritual father, together with Saadia, my birth father, may he live long, and having been privileged to enjoy understanding and quick-wittedness from both, absorbing knowledge that contributed to my empowerment as a free and enquiring individual, and as Gideon’s last doctoral student.
To me, it’s as though he’s still here with us, present and listening in his quiet, insightful, attentive manner, and therefore what I’d like to say about Gideon doesn’t necessarily relate to the academic perspective since academics and colleagues of far greater experience and standing than I could speak more precisely on this aspect. I want to talk about Gideon the person, the friend, salt of this earth; of Gideon the family man, the loving father to his children, and loving husband to his wife, all of whom, I’m sure, will carry his legacy forward for many years to come.
The long journey on which I was accompanied by Gideon as my doctoral supervisor, my guide, and most importantly of all, a friend, willing to listen at any time, will stay with me forever. My eyes, sore from crying, are testimony to the great love I have for this great man in more ways than one. Never did the age difference between us come into play. The moments that I took refuge in your care will stay with me, and will become for me, as they did for others like me, added value in conducting ourselves in the world of academia in particular, and as markers of significance in our lives in general.
The force of your personality merged with encouragement and acknowledgment towards others, together with your warmth, love, and integrity towards every person you encountered as you showed your concern for others, ensuring you hurt no one.
It was just eight months ago on this very podium that you were awarded the Israel Political Science Association’s prize for your life’s work. Not for one moment did you assume that this was the last award you would receive; we were all certain that although this was an event of great importance, it was yet another as you continued your activities and leadership. We were certain there’d be more to come!
Gideon, that award was an acknowledgment of your lifetime of achievements, focused on promoting creativity, unfettered opinions, science and society. As a person, you were keenly aware of areas of disadvantage in Israeli society and as a result, you were involved in expansive public activities. In fact, were you asked how to describe yourself in the fewest words possible, I imagine you’d respond with “I’m an innovator.”
Your contributions in the field of academic research are perpetuated in your many books and dozens of articles covering a diversity of topics. The innovator in you also chose involvement with “Yesh Hadash,” “The Corruption Index,” and “The National Resilience Index,” the latter two functioning as litmus tests of our society and testimony to your ability to stand to one side, study our society, analyze it, and relate to the fact that there is more than one group of people populating this sliver of heaven on earth here in Israel.
Your wish to give these important and vital topics top priority accurately reflects not only your status as a renowned researcher, but your nature as a person of action. Participating in dozens of national and international committees involved in areas of government and politics contributed to lively discussion of great value. Gideon, although you worked in Tel Aviv University, you were renowned Israel-wide, with international achievements, a person who drove the launching of departments in universities and colleges as well as applied research centers.
Professor Gideon Doron was born in Tel Aviv in 1945. He earned his BA and MA from Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and his PhD from Rochester University under the guidance of William Riker, initiator of the Theory of Political Coalitions, who applied game theory to political research. Riker’s influence is evident in Professor Doron’s research, influencing his analyses of communications systems. He published 20 books in Hebrew and English, and many dozens of academic articles on economic and political strategy, election methods, public policy and administration, media and political manipulation, and game theory.
He initiated the establishment of the Department of Public Policy in Tel Aviv University, and served as academic consultant and chairman of the Department of Public Policy and Administration in Ben Gurion University in its setup phase. He also served as head of the Department of Political Science at Yezreel Valley College, was among the founders of the Citizen’s Empowerment Center, and was the central academic figure in its activities. He was in charge of the academic aspects of developing the National Resilience Index which incorporates the Corruption Index, which since then are published annually at the Sderot Social Conference. Doron was active as part of the international team evaluating public corruption in countries worldwide.
Simultaneous to his expansive academic activities, Gideon filled numerous public roles. Among them are: Chairman of Israel’s Channel Two TV and Radio Station, a member of the steering committee set up by then President Katzav to examine methods of governance in Israel, chief consultant to Prime Ministers and ministers, a member of the committee for examining issues of public service appointments, and a member of the National Security team, the Israel Film Council, and of various committees for determining municipal limitations. He headed “The Israelis Party” in elections for the 18th Knesset, and while it did not pass the entry threshold, it brought the results of his study as part of the President’s committee and the Citizen’s Empowerment Center onto the public agenda, raising awareness of the need for change in the methods of governance in Israel.
The Citizen’s Empowerment Center, the Israel Political Science Association, and the Political Research Association, virtually owe their existence to Professor Gideon Doron for reviving or establishing these organizations and serving as chairman, initiating most of their activities. He initiated the Association’s publishing house, and headed its scientific system. In the 1990s he was also a member of the International Political Science Association.
Gideon, dear friend, may your memory be blessed forever in the hearts and minds of your thousands of students, colleagues in academia, and Israeli society. We bow our heads to you.
Let me end with a simple Israeli phrase that encapsulated who you are: “There’s no one like you!”
Nissim Arkoby, CEO, Israel Political Science Association