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No Haven

When Yale shuttered its Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism last month, critics saw anti-Israel political correctness. But the project may simply have been a casualty of the university’s global ambitions.

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Yale University. (CanWeBowlPlease/Flickr)

Her vague criticism of the program aside, Lipstadt agrees that Small was treading on dangerous academic territory. “You can teach about Islamophobia, but you can’t teach about Muslim anti-Semitism. If you were to teach about Muslim anti-Semitism, somehow you would be seen by some people as having a vendetta.” Lipstadt thinks that this political bias did play a role in YIISA’s demise, but that doesn’t excuse what she thinks was Small’s unnecessary blurring of the line between scholarship and advocacy. “I think there were people who were anxious to see it fail. But when you know there are people out gunning for you, don’t give them a bullet.”  

Lipstadt’s concern raises a fundamental question in the debate over YIISA: Where does the realm of scholarship end and advocacy begin? YIISA was hardly more political or activist than a vast array of programs of dubious academic merit, whether African-American studies, Chicano studies, gay and lesbian studies, and so on, which have long been accepted as integral to American universities. Nor was Small’s approach any more partisan than those of Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi, Joseph Massad or other professors who teach about the modern Middle East at Ivy League universities. Moreover, it is difficult to see how one can avoid advocacy on the subject of anti-Semitism when producing scholarly work on the subject. When I posed this question to YIISA critic Jeffrey Alexander, asking whether or not a discipline like gay and lesbian studies is not inherently sympathetic to the plight of gay people, he replied: “Israel is not an oppressed group that we’re supposed to feel this enormous sympathy for, in the same way as gays and lesbians.”

Those inclined to see Israel as an aggressor, like Alexander, will see YIISA’s focus on anti-Semitism as a distraction from the real issue, which is Israeli aggression. And those inclined to see Israel as a victim will likewise view anti-Semitic ideology as a driving force in the persistence of the conflict and thus deserving of special concern. What nearly everyone involved in this dispute can agree on is that by giving the impression that Yale was no longer interested in promoting the study of anti-Semitism as a phenomenon, the university dealt with the matter poorly. “It was handled incredibly clumsily,” Burt told me. Samuels, the incoming director of YPSA, told me that he was one of a number of faculty governance committee members who signed a letter of protest to the president and provost about the closure of YIISA, arguing that it be given more time to reform. It was partly in reaction to this internal protest that the university decided to reconstitute the program with Samuels at the helm.

Samuels, who is widely admired by the people interviewed for this piece, is not a political animal in the same way as Small, who had cultivated a wide network of supporters in the worlds of media and philanthropy. Hinting that YIISA did not live up to scholarly standards, as many had criticized it for, Samuels told me that “the one thing I’m going to be very careful about is who is brought to speak, and I’m going to make sure that whoever comes is going to represent the highest possible scholarly caliber.” He also resents the criticism that studying historical anti-Semitism should have no place in a reconstituted YIISA. “I think it’s absurd to say that studying history is safe, and I think it’s dangerous to say that you can understand the current crisis in anti-Semitism without setting it into historical context.” Smith agrees, telling me that, “For someone like myself who teaches Plato and Machiavelli, it’s such an insult. If universities don’t study and keep alive the historical understanding of these things, which is not to say that the contemporary world will be ignored, but if we don’t keep alive the historical understanding of these things, who will? That’s the difference between a university and a think tank. I mean, we’re not a think tank. We’re not producing public policy. We’re trying to provide a framework of how to think about something.”

Small said he’s entertaining a variety of offers to park his initiative elsewhere. But he worries that the successful drive to attack and shut down YIISA is but the latest element in the international campaign to delegitimize Israel. “The role of the intellectual is to put light where there’s darkness,” he said. “When I see a reactionary social movement that wants to subjugate women, kill gay people, I have to speak out. And if I can’t speak out about contemporary anti-Semitism at Yale and in the world, then shame on them.”

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Isn’t it interesting that to go global it means Yale has to ignore the realities of Islamic antisemitism and how it plays a massive role in today’s Middle East conflict and the growth of global antisemitism. How convenient for the author and for Yale that they do not examine Yale’s desire for Arab financing and how as soon as YIISA was ended Saudi money suddenly appeared. To hide behind the inartful and libelous claim of poor academic scholarship is disingenuous. If academic responsibility were the issue then a large portion of leftist academics and their polemic gobbeldygook would not even warrant a second look at any major educational institution, never mind a tenured position at an Ivy league institution.

steve says:

Independent patriot above is correct , I think. Moreover, Yale knows that no matter how far to the right this went, it’s footprint is microscopic compared to the overall far leftist views (including those on Jews and Israel) that greatly dominate teaching at Yale. The author is correct that Yale has global goals, but it attampts to achieve them with the same anti-semitic slant that Arab Oil Money will demand. As for Professor Samuels, his rationalizing defense of history is absurd. While he is an excellent scholar, he’ll confine his curriculum to that old comfortable history of anti-semitism. For an excellent critique of his strengths and this project’s intended short-sightedness, listen to the jpost radio interview of harvard prof ruth wiesse where she states samuels is a great scholar and the perfect man for the job that Yale wants. That job is to pussyfoot around contemporary hate issues Jews face and stay in the past. Finally, the palestinian rep’s letter to Yale: “odious” views? Anything relating to Judaism or Israel is odious to this guy. That Yale listened to him and sucked up to his hate agenda, is the true north indication of how much Yale will prostitute itself to be a global propaganda machine.

Yale kowtows to Arab money and Islamic justification for anti-Semitism (while Islamists play word games claiming they can not be anti-Semitic [which means anti-Jew] because arabs are semites).

Here is the website for the Ruth Weisse critique:

http://www.jpost.com/VideoArticles/Video/Article.aspx?id=227881

Nothing more needs be said.

Asherz says:

In short, follow the money. Academia’s claim that of paramount importance is the “search for truth” has not been a reality for decades. The progressive agenda and political correctness has ruled the roost. Those who set the agenda have sold themselves to the providers of funds that are compatible with their own prejudices. This does not bode well for our proud nation and its future leadership in the current breeding grounds. The framers of the Constitution would not recognize the same institutions that they knew, 236 years later.
“Lux et Veritas” and the “Urim V’tumim” have been dimmed by the dim leadership that inhabit those halls of ivy in New Haven.

I could read it until I found the next sentence: “Ahmadinejad delivered a highly controversial address at Columbia University in September 2007″. What is so controversial about it? Since when a call to genocide is “controversial”? Then, the author writes: “Small doesn’t deny that he brings a set of passionate views to his work, seeing himself as part of a tradition of “engaged, critical” scholarship …. In addition to this “engaged”—or, as his critics would say, crusading—research…”. So, Small is a “crusader” (“as his critics say”), and Ahmadinejad is just “controversial” (from the author’s point of view). I think this is enough to understand the author’s position pretty well. It is exactly what I get used to see in Tablet.

Yale, like America, is disgusting with its slavish adulation of oil-rich moguls at the expense of support for anti-Semitism. Their excuse for
withdrawal or replacement of the program’s leaders as due to so-called academic scholarship is typically academic and pathetic. It is the old
Blood Libel in academic terminology that I know from experience, is
Kafkian. CYA Cover your “behind.”

Solution might be to discover other forms of energy than oil, and divest these oil-rich countries of our money and their power. If we cannot show honor among thieves, let us at least seek a solution that does not depend on dealing with oil-rich moguls who openly, right now, acclaim the glory of destroying Israel. Give us some credit for seeing through your pathetic sophisms. How can we divest anti-Semites of the power they claim Jews have? Oil-powers rule now. Do not think America will escape Muslim drive to rule the world again. Our women will soon be covered from head to foot and forbidden to drive. Anti-Semitism is alive and well. Concentrating on the past is to stick your heads in Arabian sands and ignore present threats.

jzsnake says:

This article has left me speechless. I hope Jewish alumni will stop donating to Yale and Jews will go elsewhere for an education.

It must be that the brief departure of Yale from its anti-Semitic patterns of excluding Jews from faculty positions and tenure which characterized the 1940′s and 50′s–and earlier–is over. Expect that those “powers that be” will use the same old excuses to marginalize and exclude Jewish scholars from their “hallowed halls.” Only this time there will be more help from Yale Jewish scholars themselves who do not realize how vulnerable they, themselves, are. MA.Yale, ’55.

A. Bernal says:

It’s truly pathetic when a known terrorist organization like the PLO and its “ambassador” can sway academia to such a degree that Charles Small would be seen as the anti-Semite. Yes, the Palestinian’s are Semites; therefore, maybe Prof. Small should have used anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli instead. Regardless, I doubt that would have made any difference.

Anyhow, America and its Ivy-league politically-correct sensitivity will continue to destroy the minds of our young people. Furthermore, because the majority of Jewish Americans are liberals, I doubt that they’d recognize Hitler if he were alive and staring them in the face. It seems like the academic community would rather protect Anti-Jewish Arabs for money’s sake, than to stand up for truth regardless of the cost. Bravisamo to Small for his willingness to loose to eventually win.

This article reminded me of Richard Gant’s character (George Washington Duke) in Rocky V when towards the end of the movie there’s a scene where he is seen shaking his head while quoting, “Only in America . . .”

jacob arnon says:

I think the problem lies with Jewish intellectuals who have decided that antisemitism is of no concern to them.

The reason for this are two fold:

First and most mundane is selfishness: if it doesn’t affect me directly, they tell themselves who cares.

The second reason is more serious because it’s harder to counter: many Jews have bought into the antisemitic view that Jews are too well off, too powerful, and control the world.

This is the only thing that can explain why some “well educated” Jews (at Yale and elsewhere) though abominably ignorant of history can even contemplate sympathizing with groups like Hamas and Hizbollah. This is what those Jews who are on the “flotilla to Gaza” do. Their heroes are people like Chomsky who has gone so far as to embrace a Holocaust denier.

Unfortunately, only another catastrophe to the Jewish people will waken them to reality. This is a prize not worth paying. Hence we need to device strategies to counter a world view that tells them that “Jews have immense power.” For some embracing this view is comforting since it tells that that pogroms and Holocausts are a thing of the past, to other it tells them that all Jews need to sympathize with the underdog including the Palestinians of groups like Hamas.

Will they be able to wake up before the underdog bites them?

Andrea D. Merciless says:

The idea of an ANTISEMITISM studies is a form of advocacy in itself. It assumes that all or most hostile views against Jews are wrong, irrational, or evil. Why not just a program on JEWISH HISTORY which discusses antisemitism as an element in the history of Jews and gentiles? Why do we need a program that focuses ONLY on antisemitism? Such study only looks for evidence where Jews are ‘poor saintly victims’ of ‘evil goyim’. Imagine if a college had a program about Jewish antigoyism and did nothing but amass all the negative feelings, thoughts, and actions of Jews against gentiles? Imagine a program called ANTI-ARAB STUDIES which documented European and Jewish hostility against Arabs/Muslims while ignoring the negative feelings Arabs/Muslims have toward Europeans and Jews. Only an idiot would deny that antisemitism is an important topic, but it is a facet of larger history of Jews and gentiles. And it has to be understood not only in terms of gentile distrust or hatred toward Jews but longstanding Jewish contempt and disdain for goyim. It also has to be seen in light of the murderous Jewish role in communism, Jewish agenda against the white majority, Jewish support of the radical gay agenda, and Jewish domination of Wall Street, by which it robbed most of America blind.

We need a China Studies department and Russian Studies program, but should we have a Anti-Sinocist Studies Program and anti-Russian studies program that only perceive those peoples/nations as hapless victims of hateful enemies? No people are all good or all bad. Jews have been bloodied, but they also have blood on their hands.

Also, the fact that Jews have had an Antisemitic Studies Program at such a prestigious university is not sign of Jewish victimhood but Jewish power. And the so-called studies is used not so much to understand history but to serve as an intellectual weapon of Jewish power, i.e. ‘if you criticize Israel or Jews, you’re a Nazi and should have your career destroyed’.

Andrea D. Merciless says:

Some of you bitch about Arab money, but Wall Street isn’t owned by Arabs. Neither is Hollywood or Silicon Valley. Neither are the top law firms. Jewish professors, students, and money far outweight Arab/Muslim counterparts at top colleges. Show me a Muslim president at an Ivy League University. 60% of Democratic Party funds come from Jews. 40% of GOP funds come from Jews. AIPAC is the most powerful lobby in America. J-Street, a milder version of AIPAC, is second.
Jews are behind illegal immigration, and many prominent Jews are giddy with joy that whites are slated to be a minority in this country. The ‘gay marriage’ agenda was pushed by Jews, not Muslims. Everyone knows about the Holocaust but few know about the Bolshevik murder of 15 million Christian Slavs, much of it carried out by Jewish communist party thugs. Why don’t we know more about this? Jewish control of media and history departments. The world called for the end of Apartheid in South Africa and now turns a blind eye to 10,000s of whites being murdered and raped there, but US has been completely supportive of Israel despite Israel’s murderous occupation of West Bank and attacks on Gaza.

Jews, though 2% of the US population, own 40% of all the wealth in America. Of 25 billionaires in NY, 23 are Jewish. Three out of nine Supreme Court justices are Jewish–or 33%.
Yet, we are supposed to see Jews as helpless victims? Gimme a break. If Yale is to have a political studies program, it should be called JEWISH POWER studies. People like George Soros, Bernanke, Sergey Brin, and Timothy Geithner get to call the shots.
7 million American Jews own more wealth than 1.3 billion Chinese or 1 bilion Indians. Jews need to stop bitching about victimhood.

David Rockefeller says:

. . and Andrea D. Merciless wins the thread . . .

Yes, Yale’s whoring itself for petro-dollars is disgraceful. As is its creating a satellite campus in the police state of Singapore — what’s in it for Yale? Levin should lose his job for that stunt.

But this anti-Semitism center is just as bad. The Israeli Right uses the Yale name to smear its opponents. Ask tough questions about Jews claiming their real estate deal with God entitles them to take land presently occupied by Palestinians and a fancy Ivy college brands you a bigot and anti-Semite. I can see Yale deciding that’s a bit too much engagement with the world.

Bravo, Yale, for doing the right thing — at least this once.

After the revelations about Libyan influence money being injected into the London School Of Economics, I stopped paying attention to their Middle East experts. I’d hate to have to do the same thing with Yale.

Ernest Jones says:

It’s about time! Either have a program that address all anti-(fill in your group)or have none at all. The Jews have become the world’s experts at promoting victimhood, as if the holocaust were the only atrocity that has ever occurred in man’s bloody past. That one of the country’s greatest universities would give them a platform was outrageous. Yale, stand your ground!

Katikam says:

I’m not ready to look at the Shoah as past history…. Perhaps after I and the rest of survivors die you can forget it completely and live under the delusion that Middle Eastern Arabs perpetrated it?

I was shocked to read that the Justice minister of Israel stated that Jews assimilating (and this often means Reform Judaism) are fulfilling Hitler’s project. The man seems to be about my age, or even older.

How is it that he, and others (I’ve heard rabbis in the US make the same claim) have already forgotten that the Holocaust had nothing to do with Judaism? Didn’t your institute offer course on the Nurenberg Nazi laws that defined a Jew as someone who had just one Jewish great grand parent? Don’t you remember that the Nazi project was (and still is) driven by pseudo eugenics?

Anyone who was thought to have “one drop” of “Jewish blood” was designed as “life unworthy of life”, along with Romas (gypsies), gays, people of color, Seventh Day Adventists and, lest we forget, the disabled, this in addition to real or perceived political opponents, or people who didn’t know their place like the Polish intelligencia who was so very anti-Semitic and welcomed the Nazis only to find themselves shipped off to extermination camps (remember, Hitler thought that though Slavic people were not “life unworthy of life” they were inferior and destined to be servants to the “Aryans”?).

The Holocaust involved the murder of 11 million people (6 millions of them Jews). As a Holocaust survivor I feel solidarity towards my fellow victims.

Furthermore, hate crimes against Jews are still perpetrated in the US, NOW. They are not the actions of Muslims but of incresingly mainstrean neo-Nazis. Also, the most virulent anti-semitism comes from Christian Zionists who believe Jews will have to convert or be killed. Are these really Israel’s friends?

rich austin says:

YALE STAND YOUR GROUND.. Good post Andrea Merciless. COMPLETELY AGREE. thies woah is me jewish victim thing is frankly ANNOYING. tell that to bernie madoff, golman sachs, aipac, that fat guy at the ADL foxman and whoever is screwing with the USA.

rich austin says:

Another thing is… ISRAEL RECEIVES the most FINANCIAL AID from USA TAXPAYERS out of any country on US dole or welfare. Plus the military benefits Israel gets from the USA. Yet, they have an economy that is fine- ranking near the top- number 5 I believe .The USAs support of the ‘Jewish state’ that privileges one religion/creed/ethnic group goes against the USA founding constitution of separating church and state. The treatment of the native PALESTINIANS by the jewish immigrants to Israel is horrific and arguably one of the main reasons the USA is hated by the ARAB world.

Jacob Arnon says:

Andrea D. Merciless “The idea of an ANTISEMITISM studies is a form of advocacy in itself.”

This is Amdrea major premise in her combative comments. Yet she is unable to support her premise in the body of her comments. On the contrary she shows that her distaste for antisemitic studies is driven by her not so subtle dislike of Jews.

When she says, for example, that antisemitic studies “assumes that all or most hostile views against Jews are wrong, irrational, or evil.” She doesn’t tell us which hostile views against Jews are not “wrong, irrational, or evil.”

However, she does justify Jew hatred when she says:

“It also has to be seen in light of the murderous Jewish role in communism, Jewish agenda against the white majority, Jewish support of the radical gay agenda, and Jewish domination of Wall Street, by which it robbed most of America blind.”

In other words, Andrea’s views of Jews are the mirror image of those of David Duke and other American Nazis.

This alone would disqualify her from being taken seriously on this or any blog that supports traditional liberal values and scorn racism: Andrea’s “Jewish agenda against the white majority,” bigotry, “Jewish support of the radical gay agenda,” and historical lies Andrea’s “murderous Jewish role in communism.”

No wonder Andrea D. Merciless (Andrea the merciless, get it?) hates antisemitic studies programs: her views would be among those that would be studied. This is also why she says that “ANTISEMITISM studies is a form of advocacy in itself” since she is threatened with exposure.

Antisemites like Andrea fear exposure, which is why they hate the idea of an antisemitic studies program.

There are many reasons why we need to study antisemitism but countering the obscene lies of an Andrea should be one of its top priorities.

Jacob Arnon says:

rich austin:

“Good post Andrea Merciless. COMPLETELY AGREE. thies woah is me jewish victim thing is frankly ANNOYING. tell that to bernie madoff, golman sachs, aipac, that fat guy at the ADL foxman and whoever is screwing with the USA.”

Come on rich, you are andrea, aren’t you? You and her have posted the same comment.

If you don’t like Jews why do you keep posting on Jewish websites. You are ab obsessed stoker with nothing to say.

babawawa says:

Frankly, I couldn’t care less what Yale does. They whore themselves out to whomever they please and there’s a price to pay. What does piss me off is idiots like andrea and rich austin putting down Jews for being successful. Jealousy is a bitch, and you will pay the price as well. FYI, can either of you two, or other talk backers, give us the history of of the people who declared themselves Palestinians in 1964 that doesn’t involve Jews? Israel is the Jewish homeland. The end. Not up for discussion.

Harry Eagar says:

I see a t-shirt: Yale University — soft on anti-Semitism since 2011

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For Rich Austin that said:

ISRAEL RECEIVES the most FINANCIAL AID from USA TAXPAYERS out of any country on US dole or welfare.

Why don’t you look through these numbers here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_foreign_aid

Floonberg says:

What it all boils down to is this: if it’s bad for “Israel” and Zionists, it’s a win for humanity.

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No Haven

When Yale shuttered its Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism last month, critics saw anti-Israel political correctness. But the project may simply have been a casualty of the university’s global ambitions.

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