Aumann: Game Theory Proves Failure of Oslo

The voice mail box of Prof. Robert Aumann, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, is full. By early morning yesterday he had already been interviewed for the TV and radio networks, and his grandson Ya'akov Aumann came over to help him field calls.

Aumann is a researcher of game theory, which uses mathematical models to analyze situations of conflict. A religious man identified with right-wing politics - some of his colleagues label him "extreme right" - Aumann has an explanation from game theory for the failure of the Oslo agreements, and the same tools serve him to explain why Israel must continue the arms race and hold on to nuclear weapons.

Professor Aumann has the knack for illuminating even a trivial and humdrum subject from an unusual angle. According to his colleagues, "he is a tolerant person and is always ready to listen to other opinions, and if needs be to fight for the right of the other to voice their point of view."

Aumann has his own daily routine. He rises at 8 A.M., prays, then checks his email. He likes to think about his projects in the morning, "but not in front of the computer, or a piece of paper. Just to think." After a cup of coffee, he goes to the university, usually at 11 A.M. or noon. Every year he takes two weeks off to ski, "with the grandchildren or children."

Aumann is a veteran member of Professors for a Strong Israel, a right-wing think tank, and he opposed the disengagement. At the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University, they said he arrived daily with an orange ribbon, and kept doing so after the plan was implemented.

He insists on calling the disengagement "the expulsion."

"Irrespective of game theory, I think it was immoral, inhuman, and stupid," he said. "We gained nothing, and there's a good chance we lost a great deal. What sort of message did they want to send with this expulsion? They wanted to send the message that we are sticking with the green line no matter what."

Yisrael Robert Aumann was born on June 8, 1930, in Frankfurt, Germany. When he was 8 years old he escaped with his parents to the United States. As a youth he studied in a Yeshiva High School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He says he was a "very unsympathetic child."

The full interview will be published in Haaretz on Friday.