'Firecracker' Tal Liron makes himself heard
By Dave Chen, Staff Writer
Most people probably know Tal Liron '03 through his public writings, either on the Daily Jolt, the New Athenian or in The Amherst Student. Trenchant, witty and sometimes vituperative, the Tal that most of the student body knows articulates his views on civil rights, critiques U.S. foreign policy towards Israel and explains the latest technical updates to the New Athenian forum. Yet underneath this poised public persona; there is a person that few know intimately.

Excelling at Amherst

Liron was born in Queens, NY to Tzachi and Yael Liron, a successful Israeli pop singing duo. When he was eight, the Liron family moved to Israel, where Tal held dual citizenship. Liron spent most of his life in Israel; he served in the Israeli army and attended Tel Aviv University.

He recalled his time at the University with little fondness: "I hated school," Liron said. "I failed most of my classes. The first time I took calculus, my final grade was a 36. So I took it again, but the second time I studied hard. I got a 36 again. At that point, I realized someone was trying to tell me something: I wasn't supposed to be doing math."

But when Liron arrived at Amherst College, everything changed. When asked what he loved most about his time at Amherst, Liron said, "Of course I could talk about the great professors and the great resources, but what was most valuable to me was that for four years, I didn't have to worry about working or earning money. I could dedicate these years solely to my education. I was in the army before, and suddenly, I didn't have to do anything except school."

Liron's professors speak of him with admiration. "He will speak his mind," said Professor of English Andrew Parker, "and he won't be held back by some vague sense of etiquette. This is great in a classroom. Last fall during 'Marxism and Psychoanalysis,' he eloquently defended Marxism, a view that few of his classmates maintain. One of his classmates said to me afterwards, 'That Tal, what a firecracker!', and that's what he is. He makes things explode."

But Liron's friends remember more than his political views. "He's beautiful in so many ways," said Michael Turken '03, a longtime friend. "He's so multi-talented. He started the New Athenian and wrote programs for the Japanese department, all out of the goodness of his heart. I can think of no one else I'd rather have around."

Beyond academics

Though Tal made many friends both in and out of the classroom, Amherst was also where his varied interests and talents could find outlets for expression. During his time here, he was a Peer Tutor in the Writing Center, a WAMH DJ, a member of the Amherst Feminist Alliance and Pride Alliance, the founder of ACRONYM (Amherst's Marxist/Socialist/Anarchist association) and editor-in-chief for "1848," a 5-college academic journal. In addition to his ability to speak six languages, Liron is also a skilled writer and computer programmer. This latter skill enabling him to design The New Athenian, which he began out of a passion to redress the wrongs he felt were wrought by the Daily Jolt. "It was just my way of giving back to the school that I've already gotten so much from," said Liron. Of the numerous groups he was involved with, he said, "The Amherst Feminist Alliance is the single most important group on campus. The gender divide is enormous and we're only beginning to scratch the surface of the problem."

After some hesitation, Liron decided to reveal his sexual orientation. "I call myself bisexual, an appellation that, as I mature, becomes less and less useful for understanding myself. My sex-life is my own business, but assholism has made it necessary for us to 'identify'. The lack of bisexual male role-models in my life caused me much frustration and misery, and if I give hope to but one reader of this article that one can come out and survive, this revelation will be worth the humiliation."

Lofty ambitions

What does the future hold for Tal Liron? He will graduate from the College with a B.A. in Anthropology before beginning his work on his Ph.D at the University of Chicago. His dreams include becoming one of the first anthropologists working in North Korea and teaching in a liberated Palestine. To be sure, these are high aspirations, but there are few who are as qualified, capable and passionate about life as Liron.

Issue 26, Submitted 2003-05-23 17:32:21