Tuesday, June 14, 2011


On June 1, Yale University decided not to renew the contract for the Yale Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) which was established in 2006. Since then, several reasons have been advanced for this decision, among them that YIISA produced too few peer-reviewed publications, that it attracted too few faculty members and students, and that it was too often political rather than academic in its approach.

The latter criticism, I think, is telling - as a mirror image of what was really going on. For example, one Yale professor reportedly criticized the August 2010 conference hosted by YIISA, saying that too many of the speakers used antisemitism as an excuse to dismiss public concerns with the Israeli government’s behavior. So .... let's see. That means that the only way to discuss antisemitism is to spend most of your time criticizing the Israeli government. Speaking of rank politicization!

I attended a number of YIISA lectures and participated in the 2010 conference; at all these events there were indeed relatively few Yale students. At the time, I assumed that antisemitism could hardly compete with subjects like global warming or gay rights. Especially when, to be at all honest intellectually, you must admit (as did numerous conference participants) that Muslim antisemitism is an important and dangerous factor today. That observation, alas, brands you as a 'right-wing extremist' on an American campus.

I don't think this story is over yet; YIISA may morph into some other form and migrate to another university or think tank. Let's hope so.

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