In Memoriam, Professor Yonah Alexander


In Memoriam 
Professor Yonah Alexander
Professor Yonah Alexander passed away peacefully at the age of 93. His family will organize a celebration of life at a future date.
Professor Alexander served as a Member of the Board of Regents, Senior Fellow, and Director of the International Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. His affiliation with the Potomac Institute spanned twenty-five years, with prescient work alongside Michael Swetnam, Gen. (Ret.) Alfred Gray, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) David Reist, and many other distinguished professionals in the United States and abroad. Professor Alexander’s contributions to the Potomac Institute included publishing books and reports (which can be found here), holding in-person and Zoom-based seminars, obtaining external funding, raising its domestic and international media profile (including 63 video appearances on C-SPAN), hosting hundreds of interns, providing guidance on combating terrorism to the public and private sectors, and serving as a dedicated colleague. As a devoted scholar and teacher, his primary mission included inspiring the next generation to recognize historical patterns, thereby minimizing the risk of future conflict. He cherished his long association with the Potomac Institute and viewed it as an honor and privilege to partner with such an eminent institution.
Professor Alexander was a pioneer in an uncharted field. He worked on the forefront of terrorism studies, publishing innovative research, lecturing, writing, and analyzing global terrorism. Professor Alexander served for over 40 years at universities in the United States and abroad. Among his more than 100 published books on global security and counterterrorism, he authored seminal works on al-Qaida and documented the evolution of U.S. and international terrorism policy. He founded five academic journals, including: Terrorism, Minorities and Group Rights, Political Communication and Persuasion, NATO’s Partnership for Peace Review, and Terrorism: An Electronic Journal & Knowledge Base. Professor Alexander’s publications have been translated into many languages. He lectured in dozens of countries and appeared extensively in international media. Professor Alexander’s personal papers and terrorism collection are housed at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University. 
Professor Alexander studied under numerous distinguished academics. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Roosevelt University, a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in Public Law and Government from Columbia University. He cited Dr. Edward Teller, one of the early members of the Manhattan Project, as a catalyst for his academic work in terrorism studies.
Professor Alexander listed Professor Hans Morgenthau and Justice Phillip Jessup as mentors and inspirations for his work. During his long career, he was also guided by and collaborated with Henry Kissinger, Justice Arthur Goldberg, Al Gore, Wesley Clark, William Webster, Clarence Kelley, Robert Mueller, Madeleine Albright, Joseph Lieberman, Thomas Ridge, Stuart Eizenstat, and Abraham Sofaer.
By recording and learning from history, Professor Alexander’s research forewarned trends in terrorism. Upon reflecting on his life’s work, Professor Alexander noted, “We have to follow the lessons history teaches us in order to allow for international diplomacy, to continue to have patience, to listen, and to make sure we avoid violent situations.” 
Professor Alexander endeavored to bridge communication gaps between societal sectors. He sought to increase cooperation among government, industry, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, and individuals.
From the inception of his interest in terrorism studies, Professor Alexander strived to define the cyclical nature of violence and how societies can achieve peace with justice. He proffered, “The key question, then, is whether civilization will survive? And my short answer is yes — if we want to learn from the lessons of history.” 
Professor Alexander’s final work, NATO: Past Lessons and Strategic Mission for the 21st Century, will be published in May 2024.