Yale closes anti-Semitism institute

Yale closes anti-Semitism institute

Who has time to think about this when the world is in such chaos–typhoons, storms, towns wiped out, and those guys (Weiner, Strauss-Kahn, Schwarzenegger, et al.) behaving badly–taking our attention away from the business at hand, i.e., economic recovery? What is one to say, let alone think, about anti-Semitism in New Haven? (Oh, that again.)
I have several correspondents who are to the right of me. Sometimes I forward their communications, mostly not. Last week I received one about Yale University dropping its International Institute on Anti-Semitism, which it created five years ago. I read the report carefully and feel that Yale may, in fact, have caved in to political pressure from Arab sources. I googled the subject and noted that the only people exercised by Yale’s decision are institutions like the ADL and a right-wing columnist, Caroline Glick. But this doesn’t mean that they are wrong. [Read JTA’s news report on this matter.]
Anti-Semitism is a problematic issue. It has existed for a very long time and in many places. And in its most recent reincarnation there has been much overlap between anti-Israel positions and drifting into the anti-Semitic camp. I struggled with this subject, thinking I didn’t want to do a “shrai arai” (basically meaning, “woe is me, the world is against me”) number. But I have been noting that the left-wing of the larger progressive camp (the latter of which I am part of) really goes out of its way to ignore the topic of anti-Semitism in Islamic countries.

Usually we get into a riff that goes like this: How can you speak of Arab anti-Semitism, first of all (semantically dodging the question) Arabs are also “Semites,” secondly, it’s not all Arabs, and moreover, Jews and Arabs lived together for hundreds of years in North Africa, not to mention the Ottoman Empire; then there is another riff: it is not anti-Jewish, it is anti-Israel and that is not anti-Semitism. But when I read an interview with an Israeli-Arab woman, a peace seeker, warning her fellow Israeli Arabs against anti-Semitic language, I am confirmed. Yes, there is a problem of anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism has often been used by political elites when it is convenient. Historically, when Jews are in visible positions, and the economy is in trouble, Jews are a good scapegoat. In the case of Yale University, let’s see whether they attract big bucks after this institute closes its doors.
By | 2011-06-13T14:18:00-04:00 June 13th, 2011|Blog|3 Comments


  1. Benjamin June 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    If they caved in to outside pressure, I’m not surprised. Yale didn’t publish the infamous cartoons in the book about them due to fear and possible intimidation, after all.

  2. Grace June 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    I tried opening the link for the interview with the Arab-Israeli peace activist, but it seems to open on some strange dating site. ?

  3. Anonymous June 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    It’s troubling that Lilly can’t see what was obvious to anyone who looked at the facts. Instead she says, “I read the report carefully and feel that Yale may, in fact, have caved in to political pressure from Arab sources.”

    But the center’s leadership focused on defending Israeli policy, including the settlements, and on conflating anti-semitism with criticism of israel. The center outrageously brought an Israeli settler, Itamar Marcus, to speak about “The Central Role of Palestinian Anti-Semitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity.” Other topics discussed at the same conference included: “Beyond Criticism and Dissent: On Jewish Contributions to the Delegitimation of Israel,” “Self Hatred and Contemporary Antisemitism,” and “Scourges and Their Audiences: What Drives Jews to Loathe Israel Publicly and What To Do About It?”

    The agenda was clearly right-wing, pro-settlement, Palestinian and Arab bashing and one that Meretz, a purported “leftist” and anti-racist group should have objected to. Yale did the right thing by closing the center. Now they are starting a new center that will be more scholarly and less political. The suggestion that people at Yale were worried about criticizing Iran is absolutely unhinged from reality.

    An article in the Yale Daily News (http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/jun/23/new-antisemitism-program-have-more-scholarly-focus/) quotes Yale academics defending the decision and saying among other things: “The reason [for YIISA’s lack of success] was that it was political, had a strong political orientation,” Alexander said. “[This orientation] was to defend the policies of the current conservative government [of Israel], and the whole post ‘67 tendency of Israel’s foreign policy, which is to occupy conquered territories, to continue the settlement movement.”

    He said that Small saw antisemitism scholarship as a tool to discredit Arab critics of Israeli foreign policy. Small disagreed, telling the News Thursday that YIISA never had a political agenda. He cited the wide variety of ideologies and opinions among YIISA faculty as evidence that the initiative was not singlemindedly Zionist.

    Alexander said he was hopeful that Samuels, with his “impeccable” academic credentials, would be able to make YPSA more scholarly and reputable.

    It says a lot about where Meretz-USA members stand that one was more willing to jump to the defense of the Itamar Marcuses and those who attack the “self-hating Jews,” than to listen to dedicated Yale faculty and administrators, including people like long-time Professor Gustav Ranis who should be allies of progressives(see the article).

    Discouraging and troubling,


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