Top Israeli arms control researcher Emily Landau dies at 59

A fierce critic of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the senior INSS think tank fellow is survived by her husband and two children

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Researcher Emily Landau at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Nov. 9, 2016. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)
Researcher Emily Landau at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Nov. 9, 2016. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)

Emily Landau, a top Israeli expert on arms control and nuclear proliferation, died of a long illness at the age of 59 late Monday night, associates said.

A well-regarded national security analyst and commentator, Landau worked at Tel Aviv’s esteemed Institute for National Security Studies think tank as a senior research fellow and the head of its Arms Control and Regional Security Program.

In recent years, much of her research has focused on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, though she has also written about the threat of nuclear proliferation around the world. Landau was a staunch critic of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, regularly and readily arguing that the agreement was far too lax and failed to adequately curb Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

In 2015, Forbes Israel magazine named her one of the country’s fifty most influential women for her work on the Iran nuclear issue.

“The Director and staff of INSS are deeply grieved over the loss of their colleague, and express their condolences to Emily’s family. She will be sorely missed at the Institute,” the INSS said in a statement.

In addition to writing articles for the think tank’s own journal, Landau contributed opinion pieces and analyses to a variety of Israeli and Middle Eastern publications, including The Times of Israel, Haaretz, Israel Hayom and Al-Monitor. As a leading expert on arms control in the Middle East, she was frequently interviewed by international news outlets on matters related to Iran’s nuclear program, providing what was generally seen as a hawkish Israeli view.

Landau earned a dual bachelor’s degree from Tel Aviv University in English literature and political science, followed by a master’s degree in the latter at Tel Aviv. She completed her doctorate at Hebrew University.

She joined the INSS, which was then known as the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, in 1985 as a research assistance, eventually rising through the organization to a program leader.

Landau was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Jewish parents, Mark and Barbara Biran, who moved to Israel with her and her siblings when she was 14 years old. Her father was part of the founding faculty of Tel Aviv University’s engineering department.

Landau’s funeral was held on Tuesday morning at the Kfar Nahman cemetery in her hometown of Raanana.

She is survived by her husband, Giora Landau, and two children.

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