While not clear-cut, an analysis of the story lends to the conclusion that politics were in all likelihood the decisive factor in the decision. And the implications of Yale’s move for the scholarly inquiry into anti-Semitism are deeply troubling.
The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA) was founded in 2006. Its purpose was to provide a scholarly approach to the study of contemporary and historical anti- Semitism. It was attached to Yale’s Institution of Social and Policy Studies. It was fully funded from private contributions. Yale did not in any way subsidize its activities from the university’s budget.
Since its inception, under the peripatetic leadership of its Executive Director Dr. Charles Small, YIISA organized seminars and conferences that brought leading scholars from all over the world to Yale to discuss anti-Semitism in an academic setting. Its conferences and publications produced cutting edge research. These included a groundbreaking statistical study published by Small and Prof. Edward Kaplan from Yale’s School of Management that demonstrated a direct correlation between anti-Israel sentiment and anti- Jewish sentiment.
At a large conference last August titled, “Global anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity,” among other things, YIISA confronted the genocidal nature of Islamic anti-Semitism. The conference produced more than 800 pages of scholarly research materials on all facets of anti-Semitism, including anti-Semitism in Western academia.
Senior Yale lecturers like Yale’s diplomat-in-residence and eminent international security studies scholar Charles Hill, and Yale’s Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature and Holocaust survivor Geoffrey Hartman, served on YIISA’s faculty advisory committees and participated in its activities. According to YIISA’s website, several dozen Yale professors and lecturers from throughout the university community were associated with YIISA. Their participation in its activities contributed to the institute’s comprehensive study of anti-Semitism. As the only center of its kind throughout North America, YIISA’s activities were widely covered by the media. Small and other YIISA personnel have been regularly interviewed in the US and global media on subjects related to the world’s oldest and most resilient form of bigotry.
Last week Yale University announced its decision to close down its institute for the study of anti-Semitism. The move has been widely criticized as politically motivated. For its part, the university claims that the move was the result of purely academic considerations.