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Yale's latest gift to anti-semitism


Abby Wisse Schachter, New York Post,
June 6, 2011

Yale University last week killed the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplin ary 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.

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