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In With the New

New Yale anti-Semitism program to focus on scholarship, not policy

Stephanie Butnick
August 02, 2011
Yale University. (CanWeBowlPlease/Flickr)
Yale University. (CanWeBowlPlease/Flickr)

Maurice Samuels, a Yale French professor and the director of the university’s new program on anti-Semitism, told Haaretz he would be addressing both historical and contemporary anti-Semitism. “We are not going to shy away from any topic because it’s too dangerous or political,” he said. “We’ll be addressing anti-Semitism in the modern world, including the Muslim world.” (Perhaps due to the widespread media attention the initial closure garnered, Yale moved quickly to replace the institute it claimed had been routinely reviewed and shut down.)

Last month, James Kirchick reported in Tablet Magazine on the fallout former director Charles Small faced after his “Global Anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity” conference last August. His program was shuttered in June, following high-profile complaints from Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s ambassador to Washington, among others.

Ultimately, plans for the new program seem to emphasize scholarly exploration, with the likely goal of quieting former claims that the institute wasn’t academic enough. (In June, Deborah Lipstadt, author of Nextbook Press’ The Eichmann Trial, suggested that a shift toward advocacy and away from scholarship had cost the institute supporters.) “Our goal is not to affect policy,” Samuels said, “but if scholarship can produce an understanding that advocates and politicians can use to oppose anti-Semitism, I think that’s totally valid.”

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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