The opinions expressed on this webpage represent those of the individual authors and, unless clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of Temple Beth Sholom.
Unless they respond to outside pressure and reverse course, Yale University is shutting down the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism <http://www.yale.edu/yiisa/>.
Besides the following, we also recommend visiting “Save YIISA, Yale’s Initiative for the Study of Antisemitism” on Facebook; reading “Antisemitism in America – Yale Kills YIISA,” by Clemens Heni, published in SPME (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East) Faculty Voices at <http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=8101>; and reading “Yale, Jews and double-standards,” by Caroline B. Glick, published in the Jerusalem Post at <http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=224374>.
For your information, we include:
1. A letter to be presented to Yale President Richard Levin at a meeting next week. Please add your signature to the letter by contacting Katalin Baltimore at <firstname.lastname@example.org> and giving her your title, name, address, phone number and any affiliation you wish to have included.
2. An article about the shutdown published in the Yale Daily News.
3. An article in the New York Post describing it as Yale’s gift to antisemitism.
4. A letter that had been published in the Yale Daily News maliciously attacking YIISA.
5. A statement from the Anti-Defamation League.
6. A statement from the American Jewish Committee.
We can add little to the information included in those items but note in particular YIISA, directed by Charles Small, has been performing invaluable service to the civilized world, has been of tremendous benefit to Connecticut while simultaneously bringing acclaim to Yale, and – amazingly and suspiciously – the report of the evaluation committee which made the initial recommendation has been kept secret!
Please consider writing letters to Yale officials and newspapers and submitting op-eds to newspapers. When you write, please send blind copies to Charles Small <email@example.com> and to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Email addresses at Yale:
We also suggest writing to The Chronicle of Higher Education at <email@example.com>. The Chronicle gives the following guidelines:
The Chronicle welcomes correspondence from readers. Please make your points concisely-a two- or three-paragraph letter with a clear premise is ideal. Long letters may be shortened, and all letters will be edited to conform to our style.
Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a daytime phone number and tell us what institution you are affiliated with or what city or town you are writing from.
The letter to be presented to Yale President Richard Levin.
Please add your signature to the letter and encourage others to join you. To do so, contact Katalin Baltimore at <email@example.com> and give her your title, name, address, phone number and any affiliation you wish to have included.
Dear President Levin:
The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism exemplifies the ideal synthesis between academia and the application of the world’s best minds to one of the world’s most pressing problems. We are distressed and angry that Yale is planning to close this important program. Our distress is compounded by the closure’s timing and method.
Recalling the unfair, hate-inspired criticism of YIISA after last year’s “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity” symposium, during which some speakers courageously delved into some of the world’s gravest problems, we suspect the closure has more to do with Yale caving into pressure than with academic quality. That Yale has kept secret the report of the committee recommending the closure makes its action further suspect.
We strongly urge you to reverse this decision, for the good of Yale and for the good of the wider community it is supposed to serve. If there are aspects of YIISA that can be improved, then help improve it rather than destroy a program which is particularly important at this time in history.
The article in the Yale Daily News:
Yale Daily News
Anti-Semitism initiative to end
By David Burt
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA), which has operated since 2006, will not continue next year, Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies Donald Green said in a statement.
The decision to end the program has met criticism from groups across the nation that show support for Jewish people, such as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. But Green, a political science professor, said YIISA generated little scholarly work that earned publication in highly regarded journals, and its courses attracted few students.
“YIISA suffered the same fate as other initially promising programs… that were eventually terminated at ISPS because they failed to meet high standards for research and instruction,” Green said, citing the Center for the Study of Race, Inequality and Politics as another example of an underachieving program.
By contrast, he said, other ISPS programs, such as the Ethics, Politics and Economics major and the Interdisciplinary Bioethics Center, draw “hundreds” of students to their classes each year, and programs such as the Field Experiments Initiative has produced “an extraordinary number” of articles in “top-tier academic journals.”
But several leaders of organizations that stand up against anti-Semitism have issued statements condemning Yale’s decision to close the initiative. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that Yale should have addressed the shortcomings of the program instead of ending it.
“If there were problems that the university raised, they needed to be dealt with and resolved,” he said. “The decision to end the Center was a bad one on its own terms, but it is even worse because it leaves the impression that the anti-Jewish forces in the world achieved a significant victory.”
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, echoed Foxman’s sentiment. He said in a statement that he hopes Yale will reconsider and keep the program.
“We hope Yale will review this unfortunate decision so that YIISA’s critical work can continue,” Harris said. “In our experience working with YIISA, AJC has been impressed by the level of scholarly discourse, the involvement of key faculty, and the initiative’s ability, through conferences and other programs, to bring a wide range of voices to the Yale campus.”
A column published Monday in the New York Post claims that Yale closed the program because YIISA “refused to ignore the most virulent, genocidal and common form of Jew-hatred today: Muslim anti-Semitism.”
But Frances Rosenbluth, deputy provost for social sciences and faculty development, said the committee that reviewed YIISA based its assessment “solely on the issue of faculty leadership and involvement.”
“Yale is strongly committed to freedom of speech, which gives rise to a rich diversity of views on campus,” she said.
ISPS was established by the Yale Corporation in 1968.
The article in the New York Post:
Yale’s latest gift to anti-semitism
By ABBY WISSE SCHACHTER
Last Updated: 12:37 AM, June 7, 2011
Posted: 10:05 PM, June 6, 2011
Yale University last week killed the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism — the only program of its kind in the country, an academically stellar one-stop anti-Semitism research shop. Worse, it almost certainly did so because YIISA refused to ignore the most virulent, genocidal and common form of Jew-hatred today: Muslim anti-Semitism.
Citing an official review by a faculty committee that it refuses to identify, Yale will shut down the program at the end of next month. The university’s top flack, Director of Strategic Communications Charles “Robin” Hogen, wrote an e-mail claiming that YIISA had failed a key test: It was supposed to “serve the research and teaching interests of some significant group of Yale faculty and . . . be sustained by the creative energy of a critical mass of Yale faculty.”
Funny, last year, at YIISA’s hugely successful inaugural conference on global anti-Semitism, Yale Deputy Provost Frances Rosenbluth said just the opposite, noting that YIISA was “guided by an outstanding group of scholars from all over the university representing many different disciplines,” including professors of history, sociology, comparative languages, psychiatry, economics and political science.
Actually, Hogen’s e-mail itself contradicts Yale’s stated excuse: He notes that “the steering committee did express continued support for the faculty reading group on anti-Semitism.” Plus, “institutional support will remain for the group of faculty who wish to continue their scholarly exploration of this important subject.”
Which is it — no faculty interested in studying anti-Semitism, or lots of faculty interest in studying anti-Semitism?
It apparently depends on which anti-Semitism. Christian anti-Semitism is fine; political Jew-hatred, like communist or fascist anti-Semitism, no problem. But get anywhere near Muslim or Middle Eastern anti-Semitism, as presenters at YIISA’s conference did last year, and you’ve crossed the line.
Yale certainly got an earful after the conference. The PLO representative in America scolded the school’s president, Richard Levin, complaining of the attention paid to anti-Semitism among Palestinians and Muslims.
“It’s shocking that a respected institution like Yale would give a platform to these right-wing extremists and their odious views,” PLO “Ambassador” Maen Rashid Areikat wrote. “I urge you to publicly dissociate yourself and Yale University from the anti-Arab extremism and hate-mongering that were on display during this conference.”
Other attacks came from left-wing bloggers and anti-Israel bigots, as well as one Yale law student who complained about the conference’s potential dangers.
Citing the supposed “dangerous landscape on which American Muslims now dwell” to complain about alleged “anti-Muslim bigotry disseminated under Yale’s banner of credibility,” Yaman Saleh insisted that “the university cannot preach tolerance and inclusion while simultaneously also providing a haven for bigoted ideas about Muslims and Arabs that often form the basis for Islamophobic sentiment in this country.”
Funny, there wasn’t a peep about bigoted ideas presented under “Yale’s banner of credibility” a year earlier, when a lecturer at Yale’s new Jackson Center for Global Affairs took her graduate students to New York to visit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad explained to the students that there is no hard scientific proof that the Holocaust happened.
Neither the lecturer nor the center faced much criticism about meeting with a dictator just a few months after he’d murdered, tortured and terrorized his own citizens to hijack an election.
Yale says that every new research center is reviewed within five years of inception, though wouldn’t (couldn’t?) name one it had closed. Nor can YIISA appeal the university’s decision.
Some suggest that Yale feels it can act with impunity because, earlier this spring, one of YIISA’s most powerful backers died; without his money and influence, the school can rid itself of a politically inconvenient nuisance. Alumni might want to keep this in mind the next time Yale hits them up for a donation.
Anti-YIISA Letter published in the Yale Daily News:
Salahi: Anti-Semitism but not anti-hatred
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
A conference last week, sponsored by Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, raises questions about the Initiative’s commitment to fighting all forms of bigotry. While speakers at “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity,” touched on anti-Jewish sentiment across different historical periods and geographic areas, they focused predominantly on the Arab and Muslim world. Instead of connecting the threads between different kinds of hatred, the conference provided a platform for anti-Arab and anti-Muslim speakers. For a center created to promote the critical study of one form of racism, it is unconscionable that it would indulge speakers who spread another.
Among the many anti-Arab and anti-Muslim speakers was Itamar Marcus, a member of the Israeli settler movement who offered a keynote speech on “The Central Role of Palestinian Antisemitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity.” The title alone reduces an entire people and its history to irrationality and hatred; worse, it was but one of dozens of talks with a similarly problematic theme. Another speaker, Barak Seener, has, in the past, encouraged scrutiny of Israel’s Arab population — the Palestinians indigenous to the land who remained after 1948 who now comprise 20 percent of Israel’s body politic — as a “fifth column” and a “potential terrorist threat.” Such a characterization within the context of anti-Arab incitement in Israel today fits into a discourse that seeks to strip Arab-Israeli citizens of the limited political rights they now hold. Harvard professor and outspoken pro-Israel activist Ruth Wisse, who also spoke, has described Palestinian Arabs as “people who breed and bleed and advertise their misery,” a form of dehumanization that implies Palestinians are incapable of basic human emotions like sorrow and pain.
The center’s failure to adhere to consistent anti-racist principles makes it vulnerable to the charge that it is motivated by a political agenda. Indeed, many of its speakers hailed from partisan, right-wing, pro-Israel organizations including NGO Monitor, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Palestinian Media Watch — not to mention the Israeli government. In addition, many talks functioned as apologia for recent controversial Israeli actions, including an attack that killed nine civilians on a humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza this summer that one speaker called “the Jihad flotilla.” The conference was also co-sponsored by two Israeli universities with their own troubled and persistent legacy of anti-Arab racism, Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University. Most recently, Tel Aviv University, for example, has faced charges that a new housing policy discriminates against Arab students who do not serve in the Israeli military and who often face housing discrimination in Tel Aviv.
In addition, speakers at times seemed to conflate anti-Israel sentiment with anti-Semitism. For example, in a plenary about anti-racist Jewish critics of Israel titled “Self Hatred and Contemporary Antisemitism,” Richard Landes’ speech asked, “What Drives Jews to Loathe Israel Publicly?” as if those dissidents’ claims were based not on merit but on some pathological psychosis. Landes and others were not speaking about radical organizations but rather reputable human rights organizations, prominent Jewish dissidents and international student activists — exactly the kind of people a center purporting to fight bigotry should celebrate. By sponsoring such a forum, Yale lends its name to the notion that Jews who publically criticize Israel and Zionism are “self-haters.” Predicated on a rigid definition of a “real” Jew as someone who tows a particular political line, the underlying ideological definition of Jewish identity limits the freedom of Jews to develop their own identity based on their individual experiences in their particular social and historical context. Ironically, the same logic, inverted, often provides a pretext for racist ideas about Jews around the world, for those who imagine that Jews, no matter where they are or what they say, form a monolithic body that can be blamed for Israel’s actions.
Worse still, considering the dangerous landscape on which American Muslims now dwell, is the harm that anti-Muslim bigotry disseminated under Yale’s banner of credibility may cause. At a time when Muslim communities as close as Bridgeport, Conn. have been harassed at places of worship, Yale should be especially sensitive to the impact that the knowledge produced in its name can cause in the world. The University cannot preach tolerance and inclusion while simultaneously also providing a haven for bigoted ideas about Muslims and Arabs that often form the basis for Islamophobic sentiment in this country.
While the center’s failure to abstain from inflammatory anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric is offensive and dangerous, the real tragedy is its failure to recognize that a successful and principled stand against anti-Semitism requires a principled stand against all kinds of racism, including anti-Muslim/anti-Arab bigotry in America and anti-Palestinian racism in Israel. Yale has an obligation to distance itself from the conference’s more questionable affiliations and pronouncements, while at the same time making sure that Yale’s name is not hijacked in order to demonize Muslims and Arabs.
Indeed, as Yale now views its own history of institutional anti-Semitism with shame, one wonders how, in the future, it will look back at how its actions fueled anti-Arab bigotry and Islamophobia.
Yaman Salahi is a second-year student at the Law School. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADL Disappointed At Decision To Shut Down Yale Interdisciplinary Center On Anti-Semitism
New York, NY, June 7, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said the decision by Yale University to shut down the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA) at the end of July was “particularly unfortunate and dismaying” given the persistence of anti-Jewish hatred in the United States and around the world.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement:
Whatever purported issues and problems arose regarding the Yale Interdisciplinary Center, what was required was a concerted effort to work out the problems rather than ending the program. Especially at a time when anti-Semitism continues to be virulent and anti-Israel parties treat any effort to address issues relating to anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism as illegitimate, Yale’s decision is particularly unfortunate and dismaying.
The Yale Center was organized in a serious way and, under the leadership of its director, Professor Charles Small, produced significant programs and research in its short history. If there were problems that the university raised, they needed to be dealt with and resolved. The decision to end the Center was a bad one on its own terms, but it is even worse because it leaves the impression that the anti-Jewish forces in the world achieved a significant victory.
AJC Urges Yale to Reconsider Decision to Terminate YIISA
June 7, 2011 – New York – AJC is surprised and saddened and by the decision of Yale University to close one of its premier projects, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA). The pending closure of the five-year-old institute was reported in The New York Post.
“We hope Yale will review this unfortunate decision so that YIISA’s critical work can continue,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “In our experience working with YIISA, AJC has been impressed by the level of scholarly discourse, the involvement of key faculty, and the initiative’s ability, through conferences and other programs, to bring a wide range of voices to the Yale campus.”
Harris added that YIISA has been an important resource for understanding anti-Semitism, especially in its contemporary manifestations. “YIISA has made considerable contributions to the study of this immense contemporary challenge and lent Yale’s considerable reputation to an issue that remains quite serious,” he said.
“If Yale now leaves the field, it will create a very regrettable void,” concluded Harris.
The University of Connecticut
June 10, 2011 6:56:26 PM ED