As a dual Israeli-American citizen, Hayim Katsman could have stayed in the US to pursue a career in academia after earning a doctorate from the University of Washington. Instead, he returned to the kibbutz he loved, where he was a gardener, a mechanic and a peace activist. Katsman was involved in various peace initiatives, including Mahsom Watch, which monitors the impact of government activity on Palestinian lives.
Born in Israel to American immigrant parents, Katsman had a bachelor’s degree from the Open University in philosophy and political science, a master’s degree from Ben-Gurion University in politics and a PhD from the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies (2021). While in Seattle, he lived part of the time with his grandfather. His research focused on religious Zionist communities, looking at trends, subcultures and the relationship between religion and radicalism. He did fieldwork in Israel, and his dissertation was dedicated to “all life forms that exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”
The Association for Israel Studies called him an “emerging scholar” who had already been published in various academic outlets. He was also the “distinguished winner” of an annual award for best graduate paper.
He was murdered on Kibbutz Holit Saturday by Hamas terrorists. In dying, Katsman, 32, saved three other lives: His bullet-riddled body shielded a neighbor hiding with him, and that neighbor, Avital Alajem, later saved two children.
He is survived by his parents Hannah and Daniel, and sibling Noy.