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Avner Cohen

Avner Cohen
Occupation Professor and Senior Research Fellow
Nationality Israeli, American
Alma mater Tel Aviv University, York University, University of Chicago
Subject Historical, philosophical, and policy of issues related to the nuclear age
Notable works Israel and the Bomb, 1998 & The Worst-Kept Secret, 2010

Avner Cohen is a writer, historian, and professor, and is well known for his works on Israel's nuclear history and strategic policy. He is currently a Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and the Director of the Education Program and Senior Fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Cohen received a B.A. in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University in 1975. He then studied at York University where he received an M.A. in Philosophy in 1977 and four years later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in the Committee on History of Culture. After these studies he embarked on an academic career, starting by teaching and lecturing at Washington University and Ben-Gurion University before returning to Tel Aviv University in 1983 to join the department of philosophy. He held positions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and is affiliated with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Cohen has researched various issues with regard to nuclear weapons, including deterrence, morality, and proliferation. His seminal work, Israel and the Bomb, which chronicled the Israeli nuclear program, was published in 1998. This book led him to encounter problems with the Israeli censor, and provoked substantial legal difficulties upon his return to Israel to give a keynote speech at an academic conference.

His book, The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain with the Bomb, was published in 2010 and explored Israel's policy of opacity when it comes to its nuclear history.[1]

Cohen has been critical of what he considers Benjamin Netanyahu's deployment of the Holocaust for political ends.[2]


  • Doubt, anxiety, and salvation. 1981.  (Ph.D. thesis)
  • Nuclear weapons and the future of humanity : the fundamental questions. Totowa, N.J: Rowman & Allanheld. 1986. (with Steven Lee)  
  • The Institution of philosophy: a discipline in crisis?. La Salle, Ill: Open Court. 1989.  (with Marcelo Dascal) (reprint ISBN 978-0-8126-9094-1)
  • Nuclear shadows in the Middle East : prospects for arms control in the wake of the Gulf Crisis. Cambridge, Mass: Defense and Arms Control Studies Program, Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1990.  (with Marvin Miller)
  • Israel and the bomb. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998.  
  • The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain with the Bomb. New York: Columbia University Press. 2010.  


  1. ^ "The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Avner Cohen (28 March 2012). "Netanyahu's contempt for the Holocaust". Haaretz. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  • "Biography: Dr. Avner Cohen". GWU National Security Archive. Archived from the original on 17 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 

External links

  • The Avner Cohen Collection hosted at the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Interview with Ha'aretz

Selected Op-Eds

“Israeli Talk of Attacking Iran Damages Relationship with US,” September 4, 2012,

“Israel’s Leadership: Messianic and then some,” Ha’artez, May 6, 2012,

“Netanyahu’s Contempt for the Holocaust,” Ha’artez, March 19, 2012,

“Israel Fears Losing Nuclear Monopoly, Talks of War with Iran,” Al Monitor, February 14, 2012,

Selected Citations

“What About Israel’s Nukes?,” The New Yorker, March 5, 2012, by John Cassidy,

“Preventing a Nuclear Iran, Peacefully,” New York Times, January 15, 2012,

“The Real Lesson of Iraq,” The New York Times, November 28, 2011, by Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer,

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