JERUSALEM (JTA) — Michael Feige, a sociologist and anthropologist specializing in Israeli society, was among the four victims being mourned in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s terror attack in Tel Aviv.
Feige, 58, a professor in the Israel studies program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was in a restaurant at the Sarona Market, a popular spot in the central part of the city, when he was shot dead.
The three others killed were Ido Ben Ari, 42, of Ramat Gan; Mila Mishayev, 33, of Ashkelon, and Ilana Navaa, 39, of Tel Aviv.
Among those who knew Feige was Dr. Donna Robinson Divine of West Hartford. Divine, the Morningstar Family Professor in Jewish Studies and Professor of Government at Smith College, served several years ago with Feige on the Board of the Association for Israel Studies, the major academic organization for university professors who teach and write about Israel.
“He directed the program on Israel Studies for Ben Gurion University and was part of the planning committee for the organization’s annual conference,” Divine, who now serves as the Association’s vice president, told the Ledger as she prepared to to leave for Israel where she will attend the Association’s conference in Jerusalem on June 20.
According to Divine, Feige wrote a highly respected book on the settler movement called Settlng in the Hearts: Jewish Fundamentalism in the Occupied Territories, which won the Shapiro Prize for the best book in Israel Studies, awarded by the Association for Israel Studies, in 2010.
“He taught as a visiting professor for one year at Brandeis and was considered an important mentor for young scholars working on various aspects of Israeli society and culture,” she said.
Members of the H-Judaic Jewish Studies Network remembered Feige as “a creative scholar, an engaging teacher, and a beloved human being.”
Ilan Troen, a professor at Ben-Gurion University and Brandeis University, said Feige was “a gentle man and a sensitive teacher.”
Feige lived with his wife and three daughters in Ramat Gam, near Tel Aviv.
He also published in Hebrew the book One Space, Two Places: Gush Emunim, Peace Now and the Construction of Israeli Space, published in Jerusalem by Magnes Press in 2002.
His daughter is to be married soon, according to The Times of Israel.
Troen said in a statement that Feige was engaged in original research on the settlement movement and Gush Emunim, as well as on Peace Now, the use of archaeology in contemporary Israel, the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and religious fundamentalism, and the place of David Ben-Gurion in national memory.
Feige spent a year as a fellow of the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania before returning to Israel, where he joined the Ben-Gurion Research Center for the Study of Israel and Zionism at the Ben-Gurion University campus in Sde Boker. He was serving as the head of the BGU program in Israel studies.
Ben Ari was eating at a restaurant with his wife and two children when the attack occurred; his wife was among the injured. He worked in a senior position with Coca-Cola and had served in the Israeli army’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit. Ben Ari was a cousin by marriage of Forward contributing editor David Hazony.
“He was a reservist, received a commendation from the president, was the salt of the earth, a charming father and wonderful brother,” his sister, Reut, told Ynet.
Mishayev was waiting for her fiancé to arrive when the attack occurred. She reportedly called her husband-to-be after she was shot and before she died.
Navaa is survived by her husband, four daughters and her parents.
The two alleged attackers are 21-year-old cousins from the Palestinian town of Yatta in the Hebron Hills in the southern West Bank; the Israel Defense Forces has imposed a closure on the town.
One was shot and, as the Ledger went to press, was being treated in the same Tel Aviv hospital as the victims, while the other was captured after fleeing the scene. A third man suspected of being involved in the attack has also been apprehended.