Joel Fishman was born in Winston-Salem, N. C. and has lived in Israel since 1972. He grew up in Brookline, MA, received his B.A. from Tufts University, and his Ph. D. in modern European history from Columbia University. From 1968-1970, he was a Fulbright scholar at the Institute for History of the State University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. His dissertation was published under the title, Diplomacy and Revolution; the London Conference of 1830 and the Belgian Revolt. He is married and has three children and four grandchildren.
Like many of his generation, the unsettled conditions of the seventies interrupted his academic career. By the time he completed his doctorate in 1972, the job market had evaporated. During the following years, Fishman researched and published several pioneering articles on the postwar reconstruction of the Dutch Jewish community and from 1975-1978 carried out post-doctoral work at the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam.
After returning to Israel in 1978, Fishman found that he was “overqualified” for nearly all manner of salaried work, so from 1980 to 2000, he worked as a photographer until the Second Armed Uprising ruined business conditions. Fortunately, an opportunity arose to join the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, so Fishman made the transition into a new field, contemporary history, or, better stated, the history of the present. His research applies the historical method in order to explain contemporary events. One of his pioneering accomplishments was the publication of the policy paper, “Ten Years since Oslo: The PLO’s ‘People’s War’ Strategy and Israel’s Inadequate Response,” which analysed the strategy of the other side, many aspects of which were borrowed from the North Vietnamese, and the failure of Israel’s military and leadership elite to understand and adapt to the new situation. His findings appear in a series of articles, which are posted on the web. A selection of his articles has also appeared in book form, in French, under the title, La Guerre d’Oslo (Prof. Efraim Karsh was the coauthor). Since 2004, Fishman has been a Fellow of the JCPA.
Independently, Fishman served as Chairman of the Center for Research on Dutch Jewry at the Hebrew University (2006-2009). There, he introduced sound fiscal practice and oversaw the construction of a new library.
Currently he is Book Review Editor of the Jewish Political Studies Review at the JCPA and is carrying out research on political warfare, particularly media warfare and propaganda.
Statement about SPME:
The members of SPME comprise a community of leading scholars with whom I have been able to share ideas and to learn. In their company, I have observed the combined virtues of courage moderated by maturity and caution. I find this outlook congenial.
Most scholars of my generation who grew up in postwar America enjoyed a period of opportunity and relative grace. Now, there are signs that this era may be ending, and we are entering “interesting times.” In this uncertain environment, SPME will have an increasingly important job to do, telling the truth, fighting for freedom of thought and protecting civil discourse, in America and abroad.
 La Guerre d'Oslo. Paris: Editions de Passy, 2005.