Martin Seth Kramer (Hebrew: מרטין קרמר; born September 9, 1954, Washington, D.C.) is an American-Israeli scholar of the Middle East at Shalem College in Jerusalem. His focus is on the history and politics of the Middle East, contemporary Islam, and modern Israel.


Kramer began his undergraduate degree under Itamar Rabinovich in Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University and completed his B.A. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. He earned his Ph.D. at Princeton as well, under Fouad Ajami, L. Carl Brown, the late Charles Issawi, and Bernard Lewis, who directed his thesis. He also received a History M.A. from Columbia University.[1]

  • Tel Aviv University, 1971-73 – Middle Eastern Studies
  • B.A. Princeton University, 1975 (summa cum laude) – Near Eastern Studies
  • M.A. Columbia University, 1976 – History
  • M.A. Princeton University, 1978 – Near Eastern Studies
  • Ph.D. Princeton University, 1982 – Near Eastern Studies[2]


Martin Kramer was the founding president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, where he continues to teach the modern history of the Middle East. He is also the Koret distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Kramer earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, where he prepared his thesis under the supervision of Bernard Lewis. He then spent twenty-five years at Tel Aviv University, where he directed the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. Kramer has taught as a visiting professor at Brandeis University, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, Georgetown University, and The Johns Hopkins University (SAIS). He has also served as a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies.

Political involvementEdit

Kramer was an early advocate of attacking Saddam Hussein in the wake of 9/11, arguing in December 2001 that regardless of a possible involvement, he posed a threat to the entire Middle East.[3] However, he was critical of the shifting rationale for the war in October 2002, questioning the United States' "tools of social engineering" needed to promote an eventual democracy process in the Arab world.[4]

He was a senior policy adviser on the Middle East to the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign in 2007.[5]

Ivory Towers on SandEdit

In 2001, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published Kramer's book Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America.[6] In the book (as reported by the New York Times), Kramer argued that Middle East experts "failed to ask the right questions at the right time about Islam. They underestimated its impact in the 1980's; they misrepresented its role in the early 1990's; and they glossed over its growing potential for terrorism against America in the late 1990's." His critics claimed that “there is an agenda here, which is to discredit the entire Middle East establishment.”.[7]

Views on aid to PalestinianEdit

At the February 2010 Herzliya Conference in Israel, Kramer caused controversy in a speech in which he advocated eliminating Western aid in what he termed "pro-natal subsidies" to Palestinian refugees in Gaza as a means of discouraging population growth among Palestinians in order to "crack the culture of martyrdom".[8][9][10] At the time, he was a National Security Studies Program Visiting Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, and some critics called on Harvard to distance itself from him. Deans at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs rejected these calls, stating, "Accusations have been made that Martin Kramer's statements are genocidal. These accusations are baseless." They found that Kramer's critics "appear not to understand the role of controversy in an academic setting" and rejected any attempts to restrict "fundamental academic freedom."[11]



  • Political Islam (1980) ISBN 0-8039-1435-0
  • Islam Assembled (1985) ISBN 0-231-05994-9
  • Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution (1987) ISBN 0-8133-0453-9
  • Hezbollah's Vision of the West (1989) ISBN 0-944029-01-9
  • Middle Eastern Lives: The Practice of Biography and Self-Narrative (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) (1991) ISBN 0-8156-2548-0
  • Arab Awakening and Islamic Revival: The Politics of Ideas in the Middle East (1996) ISBN 1-56000-272-7
  • The Islamism Debate (1997) ISBN 965-224-024-9
  • The Jewish Discovery of Islam (1999) ISBN 965-224-040-0
  • Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America (2001) ISBN 0-944029-49-3, download
  • The War on Error: Israel, Islam, and the Middle East (2016) ISBN 1-4128-6499-2

Journal PapersEdit

Kramer on interpreters of the Middle EastEdit

Kramer on Key Middle Eastern FiguresEdit

Kramer on U.S. and Israeli PolicyEdit


External linksEdit