Yael S. Aronoff is the Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Chair of Israel Studies and Associate Professor at James Madison College. She is also the Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University in 2001. She also holds an M.I.A. in international affairs from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (1992), and a B.A. in international relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and Public Policy (1990). She has taught in the Government Department at Hamilton College, and has served as Assistant for Regional Humanitarian Programs in the Pentagon's Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs and in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. She was Senior Associate at Columbia University’s Institute of War and Peace Studies. Professor Aronoff served as Associate Director of Jewish Studies spring 2013 and spring 2014. She is Book Review Editor for Israel Studies Review and on the Board of Directors of the Association for Israel Studies.
Dr. Aronoff is a 2011 recipient of the MSU Teacher-Scholar Award which is awarded to faculty who early in their careers have earned the respect of students and colleagues for their devotion to and skill in teaching and who have shown scholarly promise.
Industry Expertise (6)
Areas of Expertise (7)
John K. Hudzik Emerging Leader in Advancing International Studies and Programs Award
Awarded by Michigan State University
2011 Teacher Scholar Award (professional)
Awarded by Michigan State University
Columbia University: Ph.D., Political Science, International Relations 2001
Princeton University: B.A. 1990
- Association for Israel Studies
- Israel Studies Review
Dilemmas of Asymmetric Conflicts
The question of what is “fair” in times of war was a main theme of Dr. Yael Aronoff’s lecture in Olmsted on Monday, entitled “Israel’s Wars with Hamas: Dilemmas of Asymmetric Conflicts...
Podcast: Is Trump good for American Jews and Israel?
In time for the inauguration of our 45th president this Friday, Jan. 20, the JN has produced its first podcast. Howard Lupovitch, director of Wayne State University’s Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies and a history professor, and Yael Aronoff, head of Jewish studies at Michigan State University and Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Chair of Israel Studies, discuss Donald Trump, his relations with Israel and with American Jews...
Students and Faculty Hold Forum to Discuss Anti-Semitism on Campus
The State News
Led by executive director of MSU Hillel Cindy Hughey, professor emeritus Ken Waltzer, associate professor and director of the Jewish Studies program Yael Aronoff and Office of Institutional Equity investigator Mwanaisha Sims, the forum touched on concerns related to rising anti-Semitism across college campuses nationwide and the response that should be taken by MSU's Jewish community...
Aronoff named to Israel studies chair at Michigan State University
Yael Aronoff, a senior associate at Columbia University’s Institute of War and Peace Studies, has been named the first Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Israel Studies Chair at Michigan State University.
The Serling chair is a core position in MSU’s Jewish Studies Program, which is administered by the College of Arts and Letters. Aronoff will become a faculty member in James Madison College, the university’s prestigious residential college in the area of public affairs. The appointment is effective Aug. 16.
Born in the United States and raised in Israel, Aronoff is completing a book titled “When Hardliners Opt for Peace,” a study of leadership and decision-making among six recent Israeli prime ministers. She is interested in Israeli politics and foreign policy, Israeli culture, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and modern Israel as a state and society in comparative perspective.
Following graduation from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1990, she worked with non-governmental organizations in the human rights and refugee fields. After receiving a master’s degree at Columbia, she worked for the Pentagon’s Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense during the Clinton administration and was assistant for regional humanitarian programs, representing the Office of the Department of Defense Rwanda Task Force.
She was a Javits Fellow from 1990 to1993 and a Columbia University President’s Fellow from 1995 to 2000. She received her doctorate in political science from Columbia in 2001. From 2001 to 2005, she was on the faculty of Hamilton College in upstate New York, where she taught courses on the United States and the Middle East, the negotiation of peace in the Middle East, and conflict and cooperation.
The Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Israel Studies Chair was created through the generosity of donors committed to building MSU’s Jewish Studies Program, which focuses on the study of Jewish history, society and culture in the modern age in Europe, North America and Israel; on the study of the Hebrew language; and on study abroad.
Faculty Conversations: Yael Aronoff
MSU Today online
Aronoff, who spent part of her youth in Israel, said despite a full plate that includes a faltering economy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has pledged his commitment to helping bring peace to Gaza. But implementing any accord will be difficult, she added, and may call for international monitors along the border of Israel and Palestine...
Journal Articles (3)
What explains Sharon's policy of unilaterally disengaging from settlements he himself promoted and defended as necessary for Israel's security? His shift in policy can be explained by ideological and personality factors that enabled the change, in combination with more proximate, sufficient causes. Sharon's weak commitment to any one ideology, his present time orientation, his high risk propensity, and moderate cognitive flexibility enabled his significant policy changes. Sharon's straddling between Labor and Likud perspectives both acts as a permissive variable for some change, and also as a restraint on more extensive change, such as giving up the entire West Bank and dividing Jerusalem.
I analyze the actions of Israeli prime ministers in the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, comparing one prime minister who remained hard-line and one who evolved into a peace maker. By examining their belief systems and individual characteristics, I hypothesize the types of hawks that are more likely to change their views of an opponent and convert into peace-makers. Although a change in both the opponent and the environment is necessary for a leader to change his image of an enemy, three additional elements make change more probable: (1) a weak ideological commitment, or a commitment to an ideology that does not have its components articulated as obstacles; (2) a present or future individual time orientation; (3) either a flexible cognitive system or exposure and openness to a significant advisor who has a different view of the opponent.