Professor Abraham Poliak (also known as Polak) was born on the 2nd September 1910 in Ochakiv, a small city in Southern Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. Little information is known about his early years except that he emigrated with his family in 1923 to Mandatory Palestine where they settled in the city of Haifa. Poliak moved to Jerusalem in 1930 where he studied at the Hebrew University and published numerous articles in the daily newspaper, Davar, about Israel's history and politics. In 1934 Poliak received his Master's qualification in Culture of Islam.
Poliak continued in academia and was awarded his PhD in 1936 for his thesis, History of Land relationships in Egypt, Syria and Israel during the late Middle Ages. During this period he continued to write a number of significant articles connected with his research (notably around the Khazars) which appeared in foreign publications.
In 1937 he became a member of The Royal Asiatic Society. His work, Feudalism in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and the Lebanon 1250-1900 was published under the Society's Prize Publication Fund in 1939. Copies of this publication are held within the Society's collections.
Following the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, Poliak was enlisted to the Israel Defense Forces and began giving talks at the University Institute for Israeli Culture. Between 1961-1966, Professor Poliak served as a Professor of History of the Middle Ages at Tel Aviv University and founded and directed the Department of Middle-Eastern Studies. During this period he was also invited to participate in professional conferences across the world and was also a member of the International African Institute in London.
Poliak never married and died in his home in Tel Aviv on the 5th March 1970, aged 59.